Monday, August 10, 2009

Spores and insects

(Black knot fungus.  This is the scourge of DrTom's plum trees.  "Out, out, damn spot!")

This is the year of the fungus. We have had double the normal amount of rain this summer, and spore-producing organisms apparently love it. The tomato blight is sweeping through the Northeast, eliminating September caprese salad for many; I even received a special email from Johnny's Seed Company a week ago warning of these infestations and what to do about it. Fortunately, there are only two vegetable gardens within a mile of mine, and they are both down wind. So my tomatoes have been spared, for now.

But I have black knot fungus on both my plum trees, mildew on my Cortland apple tree (completely dead?), and apple blossom rot on the Ida Red apple tree. In addition, Colorado potato beetles are all over my squash plants and Japanese beetles are devouring plum leaves. I spend considerable time squishing these pests between my fingers as I peruse the carnage. I notice that the Japanese beetles also love to spend time on wild raspberry and elderberry plants along the edge of my forest not far from my gardens, so there is an endless supply of new insects to meet the demise of my digits. Often the potato beetles and the Japanese beetles are in copulo when I squish, so I get a twofer in those cases. I'm not sure this squishing helps, but I get great satisfaction from actually doing something.

Of course, there is the possibility that this new rainfall regime will be the new normal. In that case, maybe I should plant water cress. Make lemonade from lemons.

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