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A plague of aphids strikes

by Darcy Robinson
A Gardener's Diary
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Bumper bean crop and the jo...
A plague of aphids strikes
A mild winter brings things...
Massive pear harvest follow...
A wet cold summer means slo...
Vege gardening with a baby ...
Spring in sight
Summer's bounty
Winter fun
Summers End
The first year

This season my first job was to divide and replant the strawberries. I replanted as many as I could as they are a popular commodity round here and with another little one old enough to eat them this year we need a good crop. We had a lovely warm spring, some beautiful days with some rain in between but also a fair share of strong nor'westers.

Early in the season I sowed carrot, spring onion, pea, radish, lettuce and salad greens and planted early potatoes. Iíve given over more of the garden space to potatoes this season, as theyíre relatively easy to grow, are a winter staple and never go to waste.

Low seed germination rate
My first sowing of seeds didnít go particularly well, due to the noríwesters I think, which dried things out so quick I would have had to stand there all day with the hose to keep the seed beds moist. Late September/early October I resowed the gaps and though the pea germination rate was better the carrot and spring onion rows were still pretty patchy.

The broad bean seed I planted went well - maybe because the seed is sowed further down in the soil and so in less danger of drying out. Some I had planted in autumn were frosted over winter but soon had new growth on them and are now flowering.



In early to mid October I planted more potatoes and built the layers of manure and straw quite high on top of them to encourage a better crop. It didnít take long for them to come through and all of a sudden they seemed to double in size and are now in need of more layers. 

Silverbeet for babyfood
We have had large amounts of silver beet from my autumn plantings, which I am trying to use as much as I can. Baby food has consisted of good amounts of silver beet, and I tried a silver beet soup the other night, which worked out well. They do seem to have once again gone to seed quite quickly as have my sowings of mizuna. We have had some pretty hot days so this maybe why.

I planted some cucumber and squash seeds in trays indoors but had the same success rate as last spring - practically zero! I puzzled over this for quite a while and then it occurred to me that it might have been the quality of the seed raising mix I was using (which wasnít particularly good). Given I usually have no trouble raising seedlings Iím hoping this is the answer so I can avoid a repeat next year. I do sow far more things direct in to the garden now as I find this less time consuming and easier to manage.

Cats and cucumber
I ended up buying cucumber seedlings for the glasshouse, just two, one of which was promptly eaten by slugs or similar. The other I found the cat having a great time rolling around on, breaking the stem right at the base. So I went and got two more - one is going well the other was only in a few days when a neighbourhood cat had a wee snooze on it, once again breaking it off at the base. Not my year for cucumbers I have to assume.

We have had a major infestation of aphids in both vege and flower gardens this year. Never seen so many. Other gardeners in the area Iíve spoken to are having the same problem so itís not just my garden. Usually we have some aphids and I think I should do something about it but never get round to it - this season for the first time I feel I have no choice as there were so many on so many different plants.

Baking soda aphid spray
I used 1 spray bottle with water and bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) and 1 with water and neem soap. Both seemed to work quite well and the population took a dive. The key I think would be to spray with these regularly to really make a dent in the life cycle. I plan to do mine again ASAP. I also spray them with a high-powered hose whenever I get the chance. In the glasshouse I have tried some yellow sticky traps, which seems to have generally helped the health of the plants in there.

For the second year the chives and parsley in my herb bath have been infested with what I think is a kind of aphid. I have cut them right back and sprayed with the hose numerous times to no avail so I decided to get rid of the plants completely and leave it for a few weeks before replanting. Too soon to say if itís worked.

In late November I once again sowed carrot and onion seed to fill in the gaps where previous seed hadnít germinated and sowed more peas and sweet peas (the last lot of sweet peas didnít germinate and Iíve just noticed that some of my seed packets are out of date, so that may be why. It was also a good reminder to record dates when you collect your own seed.) More sowings of mizuna and mesclun also went in.

Later seed sowings fill gaps
Iím trying a few more cucumbers and Bennings Green squash (my own seed) in pots out in the garden and glasshouse and had to resow lemon grass seeds which I had sowed a couple of weeks before after some little people had done some digging just as they were coming up!

Beans also went in, some from bought seed and some I collected last year which germinated just as well as the bought ones. I also sowed some of my own radish and both curled and Italian parsley. The radishes came up very quickly, parsley Iím still waiting on.

Now at the end of spring, as well as silver beet we have a good crop of strawberries (enough so the adults in the house are even getting the odd one!), peas are just starting to come in, both snow and pod varieties, as are the broad beans, along with lettuce, radish and salad greens. Fresh produce picked just before you eat it makes it all worthwhile.





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