Beau May 31st, 2009
Last week was all about rain, but now it’s really starting to feel like summer. I must forget each year but it seems like there’s more insect critters about than I’ve ever seen. Great hoards of gnats and other flying bugs all about during the day. Maybe the rain really helped them along a bit.
Thankfully the garden has been relatively pest free. See? We have a little garden angel to protect everything.
Except it didn’t work very well for whatever bugs kept eating the beets! I planted a huge row, and only about a third of the beets made it to a larger size. Something came along and ate them at the base of the stems or chewed the leaves off. I’ve planted more starts to transplant in a week or two, along with some turnips. For now the beets look a little sad between the potatoes and cucumbers.
But everything else is coming along, and we’ve got an experiment going with planting squash near some lemon balm (Melissa officinalis). The lemon balm has a wonderful lemony scent when you crush the leaves, and some of the same compounds as citronella. I’m hoping the citrus scent repels a few insects and that there won’t be as many squash bugs around. The lemon balm is at the back along the fence, with the squash and lettuce in the front.
I’m really looking forward to the tomatoes- they’re growing well and have quite a few flowers already on several varieties. The boy pointed out a small tomato- it sure seems early. How long it takes to turn red is the question. Appararently researchers have found that reddish colored mulch or something under the tomato plant can modify the light spectrum enough to actually enhance carbohydrate uptake resulting in earlier fruit production and development. I haven’t modified our tomato plantings with red colored mulch or anything, but the mulch is brownish. Maybe that’s helped, I don’t know.
Something else I’m trying this year- planting all the tomatoes along the south and east sides of a little fence. I’ve read that soil temperatures above 90 degrees F can really slow tomato production in mid-summer. Last year the ones along the fence did really well in part because the moisture drains that way. But I’m hoping that during the really hot days of summer the small fence will help shade and cool the roots from the southwest sun while the leaves and fruit up top get all the light they need. Just a home-grown experiment, but kind of fun to see how it works out.
It seems that Quackers likes to patrol the shoreline of the pond looking for tender plants to munch on. He also likes bread… okay, I’ll admit it- I walked down and fed him last week. Now whenever we are near the pond he comes over looking for a handout. He’s a very relaxed duck, and seems quite proud of himself. I found him taking a break near the shoreline one day and he didn’t seem to mind my curiosity.
Watching him paddling around evokes a certain lazy feeling, just right for reading under the shade of a tree. In a few weeks we’ll hear the drone of cicadas high above as spring gives way to summer.