Monday, September 14, 2009

The Good and The Bad

My gardening ineptitude didn't seem to bother my plants which have grown, flourished even, flowered and fruited. Until now. I've had my share of the good... now I'm into the bad.

I honestly don't know where to begin. Suffice it to say, I'm a little overwhelmed by my tiny garden.

The tomatoes have mold, my strawberries have aphids (probably not only my strawberries) and my mint has red spider mites. Ugh. Obviously not overnight problems but I guess this is where my ineptitude comes into it. Ok that might be unkind, let's call it my "inexperience".

The aphids were freeloaders from a chilli plant I bought and the mites from the spinach. Probably not that huge a problem unless you're adverse to killing things and don't have natural predators on a balcony up high. The chilli and the spinach are both long gone but their "friends" remain. I've tried sprinkling with garlic and chilli (silly me, I think its a delicacy), the mint is growing amongst the chives (obviously not a deterant) and I've sprayed with soapy/oily water. The mites are semi under control, spraying jets of water seems to have slowed down their production; the aphids on the other hand, have to go, talk about population explosion.

I'm not offering solutions mind you. lol. I'm undecided if I should buy spray or continue to try to do it naturally. I should have been more ruthless at the start. Whilst other gardeners seem to find pleasure squishing bugs, I stupidly have a problem with killing anything.

And my tomatoes. Sigh. The snow peas got mold (I assume this is where it all began) and I pulled them. Probably too late. The tomatoes have showed signs for a few weeks and rightly or not, I have no idea, I've been pruning branches that show any mold. I thought maybe I could keep it at bay. The tomatoes have been the biggest joy of my gardening adventure so you can understand how much I dreaded the thought of losing them.

Again, I'm not presenting any solutions. There are so many green tomatoes on the branches and I don't want to let my plants go but I did have the thought that maybe I'm putting the other plants on the balcony at risk.. maybe its already too late? Maybe even if I pull these tomatoes the mold will still be lurking? This is where the experience would kick in, if I had any =P Regardless, I thought maybe its time to start some seedlings in case. I opened the bag of compost my dad gave me and...

Yeah... Possibly some of these are tomatoes? lol.

Not sure if its good, bad or irrelevant! but I did plant out my seedlings the other day, add some compost and scatter some seeds (mainly chamomile and herbs). I couldn't remember exactly where I'd sown what and suddenly so many new shoots have appeared I was a bit confused. I couldn't remember sowing so many chamomile seeds but they're so tiny that I could very well have lost track. Now I'm starting to wonder if it was all in the compost? The seedlings are so small they all look alike (which could mean they are all chamomile after all!) but there is one in my zucchini pot that is definately a volunteer. That is not chamomile.

Also I shouldn't have done it but I chucked the scraps/dirt off the balcony tidy up into my umbrella tree pot... I really hope this is basil since the seeds I _planted_ haven't sprouted ;)

There we have it, bugs, mold and seedlings galore... and I still don't know where to start.


  1. I had a similar situation with aphids across several plants in my garden. I wanted to be good so I started with White Oil. But I finally declared war with Pyrethrum. It turns out Pyrethrum is organic, but trust me, it kills aphids a LOT better than white oil (mites too I believe). The only harm it can possibly do is if you accidentally spray it straight onto a "good" bug like a ladybug. But otherwise it's not harmful to birds, pets, or people, just bugs. It breaks down quickly so there's no long-term residues. The only other precaution is not to spray near flowering plants when you need them to be pollinated or the bees will stay away as long as they can smell it.

    I'm not sure what to do about mold but one precaution to help stop the spread: always clean your tools, a mild bleach or dettol will do the trick. If you got any mold on your clippers and used them on the tomatoes, it's a free ride for the mold.

  2. I wish I could help you, but I just let my lady bugs and lacewing larvae take care of aphids. This probably doesn't work in a balcony garden. Our area doesn't get a lot of spider mite problems since we are so wet. Spider mites hate wet weather.

    Fungal diseases we certainly get. Lots of them. I spray my tomatoes every week with alternating sprays. The first week I spray them with a compost tea/aspirin spray (dosages are on my blog). The second spray is Serenade, which is a commercial spray. It is a beneficial bacteria that feeds on fungi. Good luck.

  3. Can not offer much help. You mentioned a soapy water, this is what I would use, too. Good luck!

  4. Thanks Alexa! I think I'm at the point where I'm willing to go the next step. Pyrethrum sounds like just the thing. Not sure if I've seen any good bugs around tbh but I'm glad it doesn't affect birds, coz those I do have =)

    Daphne you've given me hope! I'd only ever heard of spraying milk/water which didn't seem to work for me. I will most definately try your recipe. Thanks so much for the link!

  5. I think milk/water is good for fungus - or is it blossom end rot - yes for this because it's a sign of calcium deficiency.

    I was also going to suggest making sure your tools are clean. I usually don't pay this any mind, but if you have a fungal problem - which may be a little different from mold (I think!!???) you might spread it by making cuts.

    I use my castile soap/water mixture for everything. I could probalby be more diligent with more appropriate products, but it's easy and seems to work for everything - even big old stinkbugs!

    That one little seedling looks like basil!

    Good luck! I'm sorry about your tomaotes, but sure everything will come along beautifully! I actually picked all the green tomatoes and have them in a box with a few apples (to help ripen) becuase they seem to fall prey to disease or pests. annoying.

  6. Thanks Tatyana =)

    Good to know I can ripen the green tomatoes if anything, thanks Wendy. I guess I'm lucky in that I wouldn't normally have to think about it, regarding pests anyway.

  7. i use cinnamon powder for fungus while soapy water for all the remaining things. nothing more nothing less. best of luck though

  8. The real initiation into gardening is the bugs. The mold or mildew is the hardest, as there's not much of a natural cure that I know of. Using dish soap or squirting off the aphids works for me. Of course when there are so many, sometimes the plant has to go. One just has to be strong.