Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Pests in my container garden

Some things are eating my vegetable garden! Most of the plants, anyway; whatever the pests are, they seem to have a particular hankering for the cucumber leaves; the zucchini, not so much. Weird, I think. The way I see it, the two look sort of alike, that should account for something, but apparently not. Anyway, of course I need to get something done about it. Excepting the zukes, everything else is getting chewed up, not just the cucumbers, either. Starting all of the food from seeds, some of the plants are still small enough that I can imagine what are munching away at them could very well eat the whole damn plants!

Since my aim is using no chemical whatsitcides of any sort, whatever it is has to be organic but also cheaper than just cheap, basically free from whatever I already have around the house, that's about all I can afford for now. I was going to do that dish soap and water spray thingy I read about, until I realized that what I have is anti-bacterial. With triclosan.

Which I didn't know was such bad stuff, no good for man nor beast, sucks for the planet, too. Yikes. I used to didn't pay much attention to being very earth-friendly, and I use so little of dish soap, it has lasted for a couple of years already. Just as well to use it up now, I guess. No matter how I could get rid of it, it's still going to wind up somewhere. But it ain't ending up on my garden, that's off limits for sure.

But I digress with the triclosan. I was excited reading that planting garlic as companion with other plants can work for a natural pesticide; also basil and oregano, those are supposed to work, too, a perfect mix I would definitely use. That would be a bonus way to stop the little creepers. Never have grown garlic, but I assume I can just jab some cloves down in there alongside. Guess I'll find out. As for the herbs, I'll pick up some cheap seed packs. Until that gets going, though, I think I'll try used coffee grounds that I also saw suggested. I don't know how much, and I'm wary of too much acid in the soil if I overdo it. Trial and error, I suppose; I'm just hoping for as few errors as possible.

There's some garlic and oil spray concoction, too, to be sprayed directly onto the leaves. We've been having quite a bit of rain lately, with more coming and I'm just afraid any effects from that would be too short-lived, washed away tomorrow or the next day. I'll probably mix up a batch of it, though, for when we have a drier spell. But I really need to do something sooner than later. It's kind of disheartening, after being so (overly, I know) giddy about things growing, to see my little container garden making some nefarious buggers' salad bowls.

I really don't want them dead, if I can just get them to keep away, I'll be happier with that. I don't like killing anything, no matter how pestilent; but if it comes down to between my garden and their crawly selves, the bastards are kicking it. Maybe that coffee grounds thing will prove to work, meanwhile the garlic and herbs can start growing. Hopefully, anyway. Hopefully that the coffee might work, and also hopefully the garlic will grow just stuck in there. I should have planned on growing some of that anyway, at least this got me reminded to do so, whether or not it works as a bug rebuffer. And so it goes.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Organic Garden Variety OCD

It was probably the worst day of all to do it, but this past Thursday I decided it would be a fantastic idea to go ahead transplanting the bigger of my seedlings into their permanent containers. By happy chance, all went well, but honestly... I don't know what I was thinking, why that would be a good idea, considering the remarkably high winds we had that day!

Fiftyish mile per hour sustained max gusts, and with absolutely nothing at all to cut off the wind here, it's a wonderment the little guys could manage holding on without any chance to adjust and for digging in. But they somehow managed and seem to be doing amazingly well. I'm really flaky, though, about constantly checking up on them now, making sure they're still whole and living; it's an obsession, practically a disorder of some sort, probably.

I've said it before that I am no stranger to gardening; I have been estranged from it, however, for a lot of years... but I'll be damned if I recall ever worrying so much about the stuff I'm growing. It's like when they were in their little starter cups, I felt that they were some way kept safe, and now that I've got them stuck out there on their lonesome without my regular watchfulness, all manner of pestilence might swoop in and desolate my little setup.

Because I've never done it the organic way before, that's why. I am seriously oblivious about how to best protect and produce, cides-free anyway: the herbicides, the insecticides, fungicides and pesticides, whatever other sundry biocides I used back when... aside from the chemical varieties, I'm totally ignorant what to do. I have a lot of Googling online searching to do about that, which I ought to have already done, my bad.

Particularly I need to educate myself about homemade methods for safeguarding, unsynthetically, my veggie charges, since I'm hardly in a financial position at the moment for buying commercial organics. I'm anxious for them to do well and to provide for me some awesome food later on, and I want to take care of them au naturale, but it's sort of intimidating. I suppose I'll learn as I go, though, and be smarter for it at the end. Most of all I hope to finally get over my garden variety OCD, of course, and naturally.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Container Garden, the Beginning: Seed to Seedling in 48 Hours

Now that Mother Nature has stopped being such a bitch all winter long, and gone back to acting more like a proper and friendlier lady, I'm pretty excited about getting my container garden growing. The weather has been crazy fantastic here, earlier in the season than is usual for a streak of 80-degree days, the upside of global warming. Yay, greenhouse gases!

So anyhow, last Tuesday I got busy repurposing some of my collection of done-with yogurt cups for starter seeding what (hopefully) will end up good eats later on. I suppose I could have just gone ahead planting them in their final resting places; I've got the containers set up and ready to go, it just seemed overwhelming such tiny seeds in such giant buckets! Also it allows me to bring them in overnight if need be, since the Great Mother still occasionally relapses into being spiteful and frosty this early on.

As it is typical of me, once I got everything seeded I felt let down afterward, with just so many cups-o'-dirt to show for it. No wonder why way back when I used to do the common sort of gardening (the less creative, stuck-straight-in-the-ground kind), I always opted for starter plants over seed whenever I could; I need instant gratification, terrifically impatient about most everything, and all I had there were some throwaways filled up with muck.

It didn't help much that the flipside of the packets said I'd have to wait anywhere from 7 to 14 days for the seeds to germinate. Whatever, par for the course, such a long time to sit tight, twiddling green thumbs. So imagine my surprise when less than 48 hours later, Thursday morning, behold... smidgens of green from the iceberg lettuce, and by early that afternoon, also a couple of cucumber nubbins! By Friday, three days in, the zucchini started taking a stab at daylight.

Of course I am happy about it, actually growing stuff already, but how come so quickly? All I can think to attribute it to is the amazing dirt I dug up for planting, from in the wood behind my home nearby the creek running through it. The regular soil closer to the house is way too clayish; I tried it earlier, and all I managed from that experiment is making too many brick paperweights. I can't afford buying any good stuff, nor even the not-so-good, being literally "dirt poor" for now, but that out back looked so black and rich I figured I'd shovel it up.

I'm supposing it's mostly natural compost, really, what with so many fallen leaves, motley foliage and whole trees, all rotted over umpteen years, plus the cow and horse shit down there, too, nature's smörgåsbord. A bacteria buffet, a fungal feast, a crawler's canteen, and most importantly, free black gold for me! Judging from such pronto results, I can only hope that this bodes well for continued growth and production, but only time will tell. So far, the rest of the fruit and veg hasn't caught on, but I can be more patient with them, now that I've been appeased for awhile with some already sprouted, closer to ready for their big boy buckets!