>Quality Control

>My baby with my babies!

Alex decided she was quality control today as I came in from harvesting. Big news, the first melon was a full slip, ready to be picked. I was excited since I wasn’t sure I would have any crop at all after the big scare of spider mites decimated the vine. Anyway, Alex proceeded to roll the melon several times back and forth as any good melon inspector will do. Then she plucked a tomato out of the basket to take a closer look and give it the old “test lick”. It passed her rigorous requirement- namely that it was bigger than her mouth and it didn’t squeek- so she put it back in the basket.

Keep up the good work, Inspector!

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>In between the showers

>Got outside Friday in between the showers and got some shots of things I haven’t caught at the right time of day. A quick morning round with the camera after the babysitter arrived allowed me to see some things before the heat of the day caught them and chased me inside.

Purple heart, one of my favorite plants that spreads wonderfully fast, extremely drought tolerant, and has beauiful oink flowers in the morning. And who can resist adding that kind of color to your beds?

My morning glory, madly engulfing my trellis. I have all this beautiful gree, but no flowers yet. Seems unusual for a morning glory. But I love the way the vines are reaching out to catch ANYTHING else they can climb on.

Another morning glory on another trellis, this one cascading down with flowers, having not caught the next rung of the trellis going across.

And my my wildflower/septic field is finally sprouting again after being mowed down to rid of burrs and poison ivy. But one of the spots we spared had this beautiful remnant of sunflowers. Just gorgeous.

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>Patient Checkup

>Caution: Images in this entry may be disturbing to some viewers…or just plain sad.

Well, I went out this morning to check on the melon vine, in the 45 minutes between rainstorms, this is what I saw.

Not pretty. I think it looks bad partially because I pruned off so many leaves that were too far gone from the bug damage. But I admit, it still looks oretty awful. I still have about 4-5 pantyhosed melons that are hanging in there. And in checking the leaves, there seemed to be less bugs after my spraying the other day. I sprayed some of the newer leaves today to give them a fighting chance.

And there’s hope…

a few new melons coming in, even with the cosmetic nightmare going on around them. Keep your fingers crossed. I’m hoping my spray has given some time for the predators to move in. I saw a predator fly this morning- but where are my buds the ladybugs? Maybe the rain is keeping them hidden.

This is what is tough about vegetable gardening. You start out so strong with beautiful green plants and flowers everywhere. Then the pests get a whiff of your bumper crop and arrive to party. I know in my gardening class they talked about the curve of the pest/predator, that if you just wait when pests arrive, sooner or later nature will balance itself out by the population of pests attracting the predators that will bring the population down. But it’s a chance it might be too late and your plants will be decimated. So I’m hoping it’s not too late for my cucumbers and cantaloupes.

Have any of the other veggie gardeners out there been having problems?

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Rain is really coming down and it’s only 8:30am.

Here’s our forecast…
We may see a repeat performance of some three to nearly five inch rain totals, just like yesterday, as more showers and storms move across Central Texas. Today’s forecast holds the highest rain chance of the week at 80%, with a Flash Flood Watch that now extends to midnight.

Glad I did my Gardening 9-1-1 procedures yesterday, ’cause today doesn’t look like an outside kind of day.

>Gardening 911

>Today, I hopped out to the veggie garden as soon as the sitter got here for the baby. I brought some insecticidal soap, a hose, a scrub brush and my pruners. I had thought all night about my poor cantaloupes and how they were being attacked and I was more convinced than ever that is is an aphid attack and I could stop it.

So first I pruned, taking off all of the dead or dying leaves, then carefully taking that pile of bug infested stuff out of my garden. Then I started washing leaves with the hose sprayer. They say that you can dislodge aphids with a strong spray of water, but they don’t tell you that your leaves disintegrate as well, ripping and tearing under the spray of the water. Finally I strated spraying with insecticidal soap, just getting down and dirty. I rubbed the backs of leaves to get those nasty critters off. Had water and soap running down my arm as some of the leaves have grown to ther top of th trellis.

Anyway, discovered two melons which has already died as a result. But I still have 4 that are pantyhosed-up onto the trellis.

Next I went after the cucumber vine which is also showing the same signs of stress, but maybe a bit earlier in the cycle. Again, looked under each leaf and sprayed and rubbed the little buggers away. Cut off some leaves which are already past saving. I’ve already had plenty of cukes, but I’ll be so sad if I don’t get at least one melon from the vine.

>Planting in July…lovely

>OK, I have to admit it right now. With this irregular weather we are having, I just couldn’t resist when my mother-in-law asked me to accompany her to Red Barn. “I won’t buy, I won’t buy” I repeated in my mind as my mantra. But I got there and there were signs everywhere “All Plants 50%!”. An intelligent rational gardener would have thought “Hmmm, why are they 50% off?” and walked away. But I am anything but rational, especially with the fact that I haven’t had to run my sprinkler all summer. And we are forecasted to get rain steadily all week. A perfect time for planting (which has never been muttered in July in Austin before this year) .

So, I purchased.

Just supplementing, I reminded myself. I have two beds out on either side of the driveway that I transformed from lawn last year, and the plants I put in the fall haven’t filled out as much as I thought, plus some got eaten by deer who conveniently ignore the tags on the plants that say deer resistent! Damn deer, learn to read!

So I bought 4 gulf muehly grasses. I love them in the fall. I have three on each side so this would bring it up to 5 on each side. And I bought 4 Mexican bush sage. I love their blue spires. I had one on each side, which I hated because it looked so lonely. So now, that one has friends! See, it’s really about kindness and gaving plants some friends to hang out with so they can party in the rain, be happy, grow bigger and bloom. I’m all about happy plants.

That’s rock rose, tiny in the bottom of the picture. I think the deer are using that as their dessert every night. Gulf Muehly is in the back. Mexican bush sage at the top with white lantana behind it.

OK, I have satisfied my planting binge.

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>Help, I’m being attacked!

>Alright all you garden bloggers out there, I need your help. And help spread the word to other bloggers if you think they could help.

Something is attacking my melon and cucumber vines and I need your help to ID so I can decide how to treat. I noticed it first on the melon vine, the leaves getting some yellow spots, then shriveling up. I thought at first it was aphids of another bug since I saw things on the back of the leaves, but now I am thinking that the aphids are perhaps a secondary attack from the vine getting a fungus. Maybe a mosaic virus? Researched online at Texas A&M and couldn’t find any pictures to compare. I generally suck at insect or disease identification. All the lectures in my master gardening class didn’t soak in (I should probably repeat that part of the course every year!)

OK, here are some pics.

Closeup of front of leaf starting to get yellow areas

Looking up at leaves from below, notice these are already browning.

Cucumber vines starting to yellow

Back of melon leaf- kind of crusty and yellow, and you can see some small yellow bugs at the bottom. I thought this is probably the “honeydew” from the aphids.

More crusty yellow developing

Let me know if you have any ideas on what this could be. I just hate it because the melon and cucumber crops are looking so good until this came along. I tried to buy ladybugs yesterday at Red Barn. No luck, they said something came through and destroyed all of their ladybugs about a week back. Ugh!