Monthly Archives: June 2012

Critters!

The garden has no end of creepy crawlies. There are the usual suspects you expect every year – slugs, snails, earwigs, ants,  earthworms – some of which are helpful, even beloved (I’m thinking about the earthworm), while others do no end of damage when you’re not looking.

We’ve had problems in the gardens this year with aphids and leafminers. When I bought my tomato plants, little green bugs that I suspected were aphids were hiding under the leaves and on the stem! I spent the bus and train ride home obliterating the little buggers with my fingers to ensure that I wouldn’t put them into the garden infected. That could have been disastrous!

Leafminer trouble on a nasturtium leaf

The whitish brown spots on the beet greens are leafminer damage

I’ve read that the least toxic and best method of controlling leafminers is to remove the affected leaves. Not a big deal. It took a while before I could see improvement in my plants but they improved. After our most recent community gardening day, where we work on the community areas of the garden group, I was tending my garden and talking with another gardener named Michael. He was able to tell me what was affecting my plants, which helped me determine that the blotches were leafminer damage and not sun damage from watering the leaves as I’d thought or potentially some other kind of disease. For his help, I gave him one of my many onions.

On Sunday June 3rd, while I’d gone on a washroom break, my brother came across the creepiest critter: a long, thin, white worm! Horrific and disturbing! Needless to say we rushed home in search of info on this awful creature. Turns out it was a horsehair worm, a cricket and grasshopper parasite. Completely harmless to humans (pfew!). My brother recorded a video, but since I haven’t enabled video in this blog, you can check out the Cricket infected with parasitic worm video on Youtube to get the full effect of the damage this little guy can do to its hosts.

Horsehair worm

After that horrific encounter with the horsehair worm, I become fascinated by this awesome snail exploring the garden.  So amazing – the colours and symmetry of the shell, the different textures (hard shell, soft body), his antennae (where my brother tells me his eyes are)… still, he would only do damage so I had to remove him.

A snail exploring the garden box

Snail exploring my garden glove

My brother said pick him up with my bare hands. Yeah, right.

My garden is always overcrowded because I’m too lazy and nervous about thinning out the weaker plants. What if I pick out the strongest one by accident? Or pick out a plant instead of a weed? My brother also likes to go with the “let’s just see what happens” method of gardening. Well, I’ve learned that this practice can lead to disease as well as overgrowth of weeds that can choke out other plants so I’ve had to learn how to practice tough love.  I can always replant more seeds if I pulled up something I shouldn’t have.  Tough love!

The garden post weeding and harvesting June 3rd

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What’s in my garden

I use the Square Foot Gardening technique developed by Mel Bartholomew as a guide for my gardening.

Garden May 15th

My 8′ x 4′ pine box (32 square feet) is raised and gridded using twine. I use Mel’s plant spacings (how many seeds to plant per square foot), but I don’t use Mel’s Mix (1/3 blended compost, 1/3 peat moss, and 1/3 coarse vermiculite). Instead I go in for the premium soil mix of organic leaf compost, peat, sand and screened soil the community garden gets delivered from a local farm every year.  I started my plot with this soil the first year and it was amazingly productive.

What’s in my garden this year:

Herbs

  • Basil
  • Cilantro
  • Dill
  • Garlic Chives
  • Parsley

Flowers

  • Borage
  • Calendula
  • Cornflower
  • Sunflower

Veggies

  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Collard Greens
  • Cucumbers – new this year
  • Onions
  • Kale
  • Lettuce mix
  • Spinach
  • Tomatoes
  • Zucchini – new this year

Garden June 3rd

Favourite purveyor of organic seeds and plants: Urban Harvest! Great seeds and plants and very helpful staff. They even let me exchange an unopened seed packet (I picked up a black boy cornflower seed pack instead of blue boy).

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Welcome!

This is my 3rd year as part of a community gardening group – and I love it! So I thought it might be fun to blog about my adventures as a newbie gardener.

The garden is a wonder. Learning is an adventure.

Hope you enjoy!

Yours in dirt,

DirtyGreenThumb

Ground-eye view of tomato, onion, lettuces, nasturtium, beets, and cucumber plants June 12th

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