Monday, July 20, 2009

Devil's Plague

That is another name for Queen Anne's lace, and I heartily agree. Woe to the gardener who lets it get a foothold. I spent a good part of Sunday trying to dig it out of the birds-bees-butterfly garden, but changed tactics after a little research. QAL is a biennial, so some recommend simply snipping off the flowers to prevent it from going to seed and spreading its evil everywhere. So that's what I did. I am sure I will have to repeat this task regularly until frost; all living creatures want to multiply.

While QAL reseeds itself, further research revealed that Canada thistle, while producing seed, actually spreads best via its pernicious root system. One newly discovered method of controlling it is by spreading Pseudomonas syringae pv. Tagetis, aka PST, a naturally occurring bacterium that appears to attack the thistle. Periodically, I have noticed sickly looking thistle plants. These are likely suffering from PST. We are encouraged to harvest these sicklies, throw them in the blender with water, add a surfactant, then spray thistles with it. Best done in June, it takes around a month to work. I don't mind resorting to Roundup when it comes to thistle, but often the thistle is growing cheek to jowl with my garden plants. Roundup does not know the difference, so PST is an alternative I may try.

A solution for controlling thistle was suggested by a co-worker: if the stalks are hollow, cut them off, then pour Roundup into the hollow stem. That way the poison goes to the roots of the bad weeds without risk of spraying the good plants. I have tried this before, but I'm not sure it was specifically Canada thistle. Must investigate.

Meanwhile, here is something I have been waiting for all summer:

Yes, zucchini. By August I should be thoroughly sick of it, but store-bought is just not the same.

Some people fry up the blossoms.

But then you would get less zucchini. Hmmm. Maybe I'll try that in August.

I just can't get enough of these daylilies.

Each one is just so luscious!

The coneflowers are coming on.

These are a favorite of gold finches. They impatiently visit the blooms daily, checking for ripe seeds.

Rudbeckia and bee balm.

The bees like bee balm, but not as much as they like mint. Oddly enough, mint does not produce viable seed. Like Canada thistle, it spreads by its roots. It too is running wild in my garden.

One of my experiments this year is growing lettuce in containers.

It's doing quite well, as it gets only afternoon sun. I placed it on the chair to keep it out of the reach of curious rabbits.

The first hibiscus:

Hummingbirds like these, along with mint, honeysuckle vine, crocosmia, and Rose of Sharon.

Sunday I watched one such hummer as he worked the 3B garden like a politician working a crowd, visiting each interest group in turn. Said hummer was NOT happy to see me, however.

Speaking of birds, there is quite the breakfast buffet every morning in the mulberry tree STILL, mostly robins and bluebirds. Also, I saw a monarch butterfly Sunday. Now that I have some milkweed started in the 3B garden, maybe they will actually lay some eggs.

This is a brass manifold I purchased from Lee Valley this year, as part of an irrigation system I never set up.

The rain has been sporadic, a half inch here and there, so I water a fair amount. With this manifold, I can dribble the tulip tree AND water the Topsy Turvys at the same time. Saves me a little time. Next year, when the garden beds are better defined, I definitely will have to set up the irrigation system and save myself a LOT of time.

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