It was a long and interesting spring in my garden, with the usual round of successes and set-backs that included excessive rain, an abundance of slugs, and a fairly steady-but-small harvest of root crops and greens. Currently, we are bringing in tomatoes and cucumbers every day, with an occasional summer squash or eggplant. The summer squashes (both green and yellow zucchini) are a bit of a miracle at this point.
The squash plants have been attacked by squash vine borers and by cucumber pickle-worms. Half the plants have been killed by the borers, but I have done my usual treatment for borers a couple of times now, and the remaining plants are still un-wilted on sunny days and still putting out squashes, some of which do not (the miracle continues…) contain pickle-worms.
My “usual treatment” for squash vine borers is to slit the stem open lengthwise in the area that looks damaged, saturate the inside of the stem with a liquid version of Bt for caterpillars (I use one called Thuricide), spray the Bt all up the length of the rest of the stem, then heap compost over the slit-open part of the stem, as shown in the picture above.
This treatment usually gives me at least a couple of extra weeks of zucchini. You can read more about squash vine borers, with more detail of the treatment and pictures of the damage, in my article on Summer Squash in the Southern Garden.
In addition to the summer veggies currently coming into the kitchen, we have some volunteer arugula. I had let my entire 3×3 foot patch of arugula go to seed in the spring, so that I could save seeds for next year, and some of the seedpods shattered in the garden. Sometimes, the plants that come up on their own are the best surprise!
Pretty soon, though, those volunteer plants will start sending up flower stalks. At that point, I will pull them from the garden.
Also in the garden right now
Meanwhile, we have okra seedlings coming up in the space where we recently harvested the sweet corn, many varieties of peppers that will soon be adding to the daily harvest, and eggplants finally putting out an abundance of flowers and very small fruits.
Black-eyed pea plants have their first flower-buds, winter squashes are forming on a hilariously long vine, the sweet potato slips are all planted, and even though a mole tunneled under the area where the watermelon seeds are planted, one seedling is growing well. This is all good news.
And some flowers
One of my “special projects” for the garden this year is adding more flowers for pollinators. My garden seems to have plenty of “pest insects”, but we are woefully short on beneficial bees and flower-flies, which are (in general) more efficient pollinators than butterflies and moths.
Anise hyssop and dill are two of the flowers that I planted with pollinators in mind. Back in north Georgia, flowers on these plants would be covered up in bees and flower-flies. Here, there are times when I do not see any insects nearby, even when the flowers are fully open on a beautiful, sunny day.
In other news
We visited a son in Tennessee a couple of weeks ago, and we were able to see the Brood X cicadas. They weren’t too abundant right near my son’s home, but when we hiked in the Forks of the River Wildlife Management area, their collective sound rose and fell in a rhythm almost like breathing. The experience was pretty glorious.
I am happy that I did not miss this round of the 17-year cicadas.
Hope that your gardens are all growing well, and that you also are having some pretty-glorious moments!