The ugly bug ball

The ugly bug ball

One of the nice things about being a gardener is that you’re happy when it rains! Well, kind of… Meanwhile I’d hate anyone to get the impression that all’s growing splendidly in the garden. There are certainly some problems, but not what I’d naturally expected. Aphids, yes of course. They are stuffing themselves silly on the dwarf broad beans and, despite the ants, keep multiplying – where are the ladybirds? When I was at Luis’ the other day I saw his crop was infested too. Oh yes, he says, I’m going to spray those soon and then I’ll do yours. Er, no thanks Luis – we’re trying to be organic! The plants seem to be growing ok and there are certainly plenty of flowers so fingers crossed. A new bug for me is the flea beetle. As the name implies it’s a beetle that leaps into the air when disturbed. The brassicas are covered in their tell-tale little holes, they love ’em. My organic gardening book says you can avoid these by planting earlier or later (which of course isn’t what the seed packet says). Kale and cabbages are growing everywhere in the fields nearby so I must have look and see if they are infected too. If not I suspect they’re being sprayed… however, the plants are growing valiantly and I’m hoping that once the flea beetle season has gone there’s enough leaves for the plants to survive!

Black aphids... and flea beetle

There are pretty patterns appearing on the leaves of other broad beans and the peas…

Mmm, these shouldn't be there!

Here is a picture of a parsnip, no problem there. But where are the others? I sowed three rows and only one worked! Mice? Bad luck?! But most disappointingly is that I have just discovered that our quince tree is suffering from quince leaf blight. It was looking very sorry for itself last year, hidden under giant bramble branches and triffed-like vines, but after rescuing it we were rewarded with loads of lovely flowers. Alas, having done some research, the reason the fruits last year were a bit strange was because it had blight then. The website I found tells me this: As with nearly all fungal infections, good hygiene works wonders.  Rake up and burn the leaves and cut out any infected shoots and burn those also (never compost infected matter). Spray your quince tree with a copper based fungicide immediately and then again in spring just as the leaves open. But all the leaves, which are now open, seem to be suffering and all the ones fallen from last year have gone in the leaf mould cage – ready to be put on the beds to improve their texture in the autumn! Suppose I better find out what copper based fungicide is in Portuguese.

The lonesome parsnip... and the dreaded blight

Good news is that, for some strange reason, there have been no slugs or snails on the beds although I’m sure it’s just a matter of time. Time to console myself with some more delicious strawberries. Oh, and did I say it was raining?

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