Monthly Archives: June 2015

To weed or not to weed…

With some weeds, it’s not an issue. I just pull them. But with others, like purslane or wood sorrel, I wonder whether I should pull them or not.

I didn’t pay $40 to grow weeds at the community garden, but there is lots to consider:

  • the edible varieties, like purslane, wood sorrel and dandelion, are full of nutrition (and taste delicious!)
  • Their long taproots allow them to pull up nutrients from the soil and make them available to other plant
  • some weeds are great trap crops, keeping pests off your cultivated crops. Lambs quarters trap aphids really well
  • some are really great for the compost or to make fertilizing tea, like nettles

My concern now is that it’s mid-season and not much is growing or is growing really slowly. If I let weeds take off, then maybe that’s all I ‘ll be left by the end of the season so for now I’ve been pulling (I’m probably pulling up seeds I planted in an effort to stay on top of weeds but that’s another story). The purslane hasn’t been looking too succulent lately.

It's pretty thin. Maybe we need to water more.

It’s pretty thin to touch. Maybe we need to water more.

Incidentally, did you know that purslane, if left alone, will flower? I was reading about this on a Facebook gardening thread a few weeks ago and then I happened to see some selling at a flower shop in my neighbourhood. I couldn’t believe it! Do people really buy this?!

Flowering purslane at a nearby flower shop

Flowering purslane at a nearby flower shop

This incident reminded me of when I did community stewardship for the City a few years back. We spent a lot of time pulling garlic mustard at the Brickworks. Someone mentioned that there were stalls at the organic market that sold it. We felt pretty proud knowing that we could harvest it for free. In fact, I’m pretty sure some people used to take home handfuls that we weeded to make pesto.

Incidentally, I noticed garlic mustard growing at my relative’s place in Hamilton.

Garlic mustard by the shed

Garlic mustard by the shed

It’s a bit close to the ground and they have a dog, so I haven’t been harvesting it. Also I don’t really know when I harvest them and I’m not a great fan of pesto, which is the go-to recipe I hear about for garlic mustard.

Here are some interesting articles on how and when to harvest and why you should.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Marigold or ragweed?

When I was last at the community garden, my neighbour to the right walked by, pointed to what I thought was marigold, and said, “that’s ragweed. You should pull it.” To ease the pain, he did confirm that some may be marigold (“did you plant marigold?”, “yes”), but one was definitely ragweed.

At first I didn’t want to believe him, so I moved what he said was ragweed to the back corner of the plot, just in case. Then I inspected the leaves more carefully, compared them to what I knew were marigolds in surrounding plots, and discovered that they were different.

Ragweed

Ragweed

Marigold -- the leaves are much different

Marigold — the leaves are much different

A smaller ragweed

A smaller ragweed at the back of the plot

I found this cool leaf ID chart online. It looks to me like the marigold and ragweed leaves are both odd pinnate, but the ragweed leaves are lobbed while the marigold are lanceolate. Interesting.

Anyway, I pulled the ragweed. Only hope I can tell the difference more quickly in the future.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

A new pest for 2015

And this seems to be the worst one I’ve come across so far: the bloody flea beetle!

Flea beetle damage on radishes

Flea beetle damage on radish leaves

They are decimating my collards in the community garden and other seedlings in Hamilton. They may not be new to the garden (I may have attributed the damage to another pest in the past), but they are certainly making themselves known this year.

Flea beetle damage on eggplant

Flea beetle damage on eggplant

Flea beetle damage on tomatoes. New tomato leaves seem to be OK for now

Flea beetle damage on tomatoes. New leaves seem to be OK for now

They are a real pain. I can’t get close enough to squish them, they just hop away. They are definitely the most mobile pest I’ve encountered.  You Grow Girl says that they don’t enjoy moist environments or shade, so maybe once things start growing and shading other plants it will get better. Diatomaceous earth, row covers, and sticky traps are useful sources of organic control. Radish is supposed to be a trap crop, so I guess I should feel happy that its doing its job.

I read this interesting article that stated tomatoes planted near collards will deter the flea beetle. This is interesting because I thought that brassicas and tomatoes weren’t companions. Maybe some cabbage family members are more of a problem for tomatoes than others (and vice versa). Anyway, it’s good news as I think I’ve planted a tomato near my collards because my brother wanted two tomatoes in the community garden instead of the one I had planned for.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The rain, the soil, and other things

The weather has been all over the place this season. We had a really long winter in Toronto and not much of a spring. Summer weather in May with frost on the May long weekend. Drought conditions in early June and more recently several days of storms with torrential downpours.

I planted my first set of seeds at the community garden the first of May. I checked back frequently at first, then low and behold three weeks past without a visit. My brother had been watering religiously so I wasnt too worried. Then he came home one day and told me that our friendly neighbour to the right told him, “man, you guys need to weed!” I went to visit the next day and was shocked by what I found.

At least the onions are OK

At least the onions are OK

View from above. I recognize lambs quartre, but the rest are a mystery!

View from above. I recognize lambs quarter, but the rest are a mystery!

I rightfully felt shame for the neglect. As I weeded for the next two hours I thought about the signs these weeds were showing me:

positives

  • lots of weeds means the soil is fertile (I read this online somewhere)

negatives

  • nothing I planted is growing (except the onions)
  • these weeds are harbouring a ton of lema beetles! (and if you look closely at the weeds above, leafminers are just as active)
Lema beetles making babies

Lema beetles doing what they do best — making more lema beetles!

Babies

Lema beetle eggs

More eggs!

More eggs!

unsure

  • lots of white spiders with large white sacks. I think these are good guys but they took off once the weeds were gone.
White spider with giant egg sack. Spiders are good right?

White spider with giant egg sack. Spiders are good right?

OK, so some things managed to survive: a sunflower, some beets, a few marigold and cornflower, a nasturtium…

First radish of the season!

First radish of the season!

And one lone radish which I promptly harvested along with some onion tops and enjoyed that night as a reward for all my hard work :).

First radish of the season

First radish of the season


 

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized