Thursday, March 11, 2010

Star of the Week

Johnny decided to do a project on bees for his homework this week. He got two books out of the library, one of them called 'Bees and Wasps'. I fail to see how the two are compatible at all. One makes honey, propolis, pollen and royal jelly amongst other things and fertilises plants. The other kills bees and steals their honey. It's not hard to pick the real friend.
O.K I better back down a bit. As always, nothing is so black and white. There are parasitic wasps that do great things to control white butterfly. Also the common wasp has a carniverous diet for many months which must take care of a few things. It develops a craving for sweetness late in the Summer. That's why they only spoil the picnic towards the end of the holidays.
Anyway, having twisted arms in the past to get a hand down at the apiary on the odd occasion, I was bowled over by the interest and aptitude. He is a boy of surprising talents. Well done Johnny.

Now this morning we had a frost and then by mid-morning there was snow on the Hawkdun ranges and Mt Ida. Temperatures have dropped with a thump. It's hard to believe that only the night before this last one it was so hot I had to sleep with my feet out of the blankets, where they were bitten by the cat who felt I was impinging on her territory.

These are dwarf butterbeans dangling on the wire like chooks, all hung out to dry. The seed went in on the 29th October, when I was making comprehensive notes in the gardening diary. Post Christmas and January draw a blank but it looks like we were eating them by February. That's about 90 days from seed to harvest. I left the rest for seed which is what we can see here.
Now the 2 plants one in from the left have no bun of fluff around their stalks which is the root ball. They had begun to wilt a bit and when I pulled them the stalks were nearly eaten clean through.

I've had bean plants suddenly wilt and die off in the past, especially dwarf beans and just thought it was something they were prone to; perhaps a fungal infection. I don't know why I never thought of the humble grass grub that I know so well. Sure enough, there was a plump one still in the ground. I think they must come in with the compost and they really like beans and lettuce. Nothing else seems to be affected so drastically.

From one small insect to another, whitefly on the courgettes. I had decided from the brown leaves, dried out to a crisp, that the plants didn't like too much full sun. Wrong. They love the heat but it's the whitefly that drains all their nutrients like a vampire. Kay Baxter (Koanga Gardens) says whitefly, at its root is a nutritional problem ie. 'there are some quite common, specific relationships between pests and diseases and certain soil imbalances'. In this case then, excess nitrates in the plant tissue and/or a molybedenum deficiency. Winter would be a good time to research this further and decide what it means for the gardener and what action is required.

It now being Autumn, let's put that aside and admire Bill. Every garden needs one. The sunflowers are inside because the summer was shaping up so lousy and I thought they'd die outside. Corn on the left will be ready in about 2 weeks. Corn outside has come to nought. It did turn out to be a lousy summer. Hopes are high for this crop here.

One of my neighbours has given me some interesting poppy seeds. A big blowsy orange one with the lovely round seed heads and a no less attractive one, en masse, the red Anzac poppy. The gardening magazines say to plant wildflowers in Autumn which may or may not work here but I'll sprinkle the seed about and see what happens. Flowers and colours have never been my forte so I'm actually better not to think too hard about it and just scatter. Could be famous last words...Posted by Picasa


  1. Well Miri, your garden is looking fabulous and productive as usual. Ours is looking dead as usual. Our architect has come up with a plan that will see most of it built out. "only room for a lawn'" - well that's Trevor's domain so I'm pretty relieved. Hope the native trees survive the cull but the rest neglect has killed. You got the gardening bug. I got the bugg*r!d garden.

  2. Johnny looks like an expert in his bee get-up! I am very impressed and Harry, who is looking over my shoulder, is very impressed too!
    Have a nice weekend!

  3. Very nice touch with bill with yellow gloves- picking up the yellow of the sunflowers. that one is a very lovely photo. Gardening is so technical. I think you are to gardening what Maryanna is sewing and Jen is to Robots - an expert with the attention to details which go a long way. Yesterday I got to visit the garden of Jim O'Gorman who has an organic plot in kakanui and grows seed for the ( well i think I have it right) koanga heritage seed bank (?) I kept thinking how much dad would have loved to see his place. So much like him in many ways. Anyways I came away with a huge bag of amazing tomatoes. Have you ever been there? IF not - well worth a visit.