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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Ugly is as ugly does...

Summertime is the ugly time to garden in zone 9. Gone is the pretty that had emerged about a month ago. Instead leaves are beginning to yellow and distorted and annuals are starting to dry up and die.
I have been doing an endless amount of tomato pruning. The leaves are tattered and hole ridden from their battle with aphids and caterpillars, but gratefully with a few applications of BT, it seems so far that we have won - the tomatoes and I. As a reward, my heirlooms that had been doing nothing but dropping blossoms in a sign of disgust have begun to fruit blossom after blossom as to say thanks for the help.
To my dismay though, my war on pests is not over. I had discovered entire limbs of one of my tomatoes missing and wouldn’t you know it. The infamous tomato hornworm. There is a reason why this little creature has earned a reputation of being quite a character. He is ornery and doesn’t like to be messed with. And to make matters worse he’s not easy to kill. I thought that I would take care of him as I had the caterpillars by smashing him. But he is thick and filled with goo so I didn’t want to ruin my shoes or squirt it all over the place. So I thought I’ll just pierce him. Well every time you go to poke him he rears his head up. It’s quite scary. I finally got up enough nerve to just do it and thought - huh - take that. Then I came back a while later only to find him trying to crawl away. My final attempt was to put him in a plastic bag, tie it up and throw it in the garbage. Either way, at least he will be removed from the property tomorrow along with the garbage.
Also, with my take no prisoners approach to my pruning, I can finally walk again in the side garden.
The cucumbers are also pretty ugly right now. The box elder bugs have decided that they enjoy sucking the life out of the older leaves. So far it has not been detrimental to the production of fruit. And as long as I have cucumbers coming out of my ears, the box elder bugs can stay.
In my last entry I had been belly aching over whether or not to let the artichokes bloom, and I’m glad I did. One plant has made all of the ugly worth while. Keep in mind, I wouldn’t exactly call it pretty, but it is pretty amazing!

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