Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Sooty Mold, Sap Sucking Insects and Ants

What sooty mould, sap-sucking insect and ants have in common? Well, lots of it. They are actually a part of a feeding chain. When you see this ugly black coat of sooty mould it is a sign that your plant is infected by sap sucking insects as well. The sooty mould doesn't feed on the sap but feeds on the sweet product of sap-feeding insects that usually occupy the underside of leaves.

The sooty mould looks really ugly but also blocks the sunlight and makes the photosynthesis difficult. New foliage wasn't affected so much, but there was lots of mould on the old leaves. 
I spent one hour and a half cleaning my lemon tree! Firstly, I used an old toothbrush to remove the shield aphids. They settled along the main vein of the leaves and the stems as well.

 When using chemicals to kill them one have to use an oil-based insecticide which will allow the chemical to come under the insect's shield.  
The aphids produce sweet and sticky secret that serves the sooty moulds as food. As the secret drops on the leaf surface, sooty moulds start to appear. 
After the brushing, I gave my lemon tree a good shower to wash away the remaining aphids and moulds.

And ants?
They too feed on the honeydew produced by aphids. They don't make any damage on the plant itself but may attack ladybugs and other beneficial insects that feed on aphids.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Tropical Weather

July is supposed to be the hottest and the sunniest month in a year. This dark picture of my garden illustrates what kind of weather we actually have for days. The periods of sun and rain exchange regularly every few hours. And, when it rains then it rains cats and dogs! Every time. In just a few minutes, all the streets are flooded. This almost tropical weather combined with frequent rain showers has provided the ideal breeding conditions for slugs. There is certainly more slugs in my garden than the last year, but some of my friends collect one plastic Cola bottle of these slimy pests in no time! I keep cutting them in half with a sharp knife. Slug pellets are useless in this wet weather.

My tomatoes are few this year. The weather again. Fungi infected the stems and the lack of sun prevents ripening of the fruits. I harvested some vegetables in the morning. Courgettes are doing rather well. So are the French and climbing beans, kohlrabi, Mangold and Swiss chard. What a pleasure it is to pick up fresh vegetables from your own vegetable garden. 

The white cactus dahlia doesn't seem to mind this weather. The Dahlias love plenty of water and thrive in this moist growing conditions which are not the most favourable weather for roses. Many of them lost the foliage due to fungal diseases. I've been waiting for the dry spell to spray them with the fungicide. I avoid using chemicals in my garden but sometimes I have no other choice. Though, some of them flower, like this cream-white rose called 'Elfe'.

Friday, 25 July 2014


I have planted some of the Kale seedling into the flower beds. It is, or, better be said was 'cavolo nero', the black Tuscany kale. It is really attractive plant with dark green foliage. Yesterday afternoon I noticed that all of them have been eaten by these tiny bugs on the photo.

I have no idea what it is. Looks like a stinkbug to me. Google research hit only one result. The photo matches my bug, but the author himself does not know its name. Anyone?

Thursday, 24 July 2014


Gaura lindheimeri, beeblossom

Gypsophylla paniculata, baby-breath

Lysimachia clethroides, gooseneck loosestrife


Hybiscus syriacus, rose mallow

Monday, 21 July 2014

Gardening Is Hard Work

Working in the garden these days wasn't a very pleasant job. The air temperatures and the moisture levels were pretty high. And, I had rather hard work to do - clearing the jungle behind my plot. 
This is municipal ground, but nobody takes care of it as it is hidden away from the eyes of the responsible ones. I do take care about smaller part of it because I keep my compost boxes there but every now and then I loose the battle against the blackberries, nettles, various shrubs that stretch the branches towards my garden, trees that germinates from seeds and all kind of weeds that grow like crazy! The chainsaw and grass trimmer are needed to finish the task, which I don't have.
So, I am stuck with my scythe, secateurs and a good will to do the job.

At the moment, the rose 'Eden' carries lots of beautiful flowers that are just about to open completely. I am afraid they won't have the chance to because the pretty heavy rainfall is announced for the next few days and they usually rot as buds.

The Day Lilies passed their peak and are slowly fading away. But, some other flowers catch the eyes - sunflowers, Veronicastrum, cone flowers and this yellow Heliopsis 'Asahi' on the photo above.

Coneflowers and Sedum 'Purple Emperor'

I love hydrangeas because they produce flowers for a long period of time. In rainy weather, the stems may not be able to carry the weight of the wet flowers and bend towards the ground. I saw some people stake them or shaking off the rain, but there is no need for that. In my experience, it is best to let them be. As they dry, they will slowly and naturally come back again. 

Sunday, 20 July 2014


Some of he yellow flowers in my garden:

Oenothera, Evening Primrose

Lonicera, Honeysuckle

Helianthus, Sunflower

Lysimachia, Loosestrife

Digitalis, Foxglove

Monday, 14 July 2014

The Quick Storm

Yesterday afternoon the storm struck my town. The strong wind and a heavy rainfall lasted for about 20 minutes.

Quite enough to do the damage on trees and flood the streets. My garden is fine, thanks God.

The rainfall looked like a water curtain - 24 L per square meter - no wonder the drainage couldn't take it.

Saturday, 12 July 2014

In the Vegetable Garden


This weather, with plenty of rain and moderate temperatures, is surely very good for plant growth. It is also favourable for development of fungal diseases but, so far, only tomatoes suffer the one. To be honest I don't miss hot summer at all. Anything above 30°C is a nightmare to me.

The runner bean 'Fire-storm' is really very healthy and has attractive red flowers. Normally, I should harvest the first pods by now. But, the weather in spring was rainy and cold and it took them long to germinate.

I almost couldn't believe the colour of this kohlrabi. It is ready for harvesting. I used to buy seedlings on the market but this year I wanted to grow them from the seeds. They look better then the one I bought as young plants.

Kales have new neighbours - self sown tomatoes. They witness how mild winters became. Everywhere, where the tomatoes were left on the ground, I had plenty of seedlings. 

Courgette, ready for harvesting as well. I am going to cook courgette stew for lunch today, with cream and dill.

Tomatillo first husks hiding the fruit. Funny, I was checking them out for fruits every day wondering if there is going to be some. And now, the green lanterns are on every plant. It was raining non-stop for a couple of days and I did not go out to see what's new in the garden.
I was afraid that I haven't enough tomatillo plants to cross-pollinate themselves. 

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Garden Update

The summer goes on. Maybe it isn't the typical summer as the weather concerns but, to me, it is just about of right temperature and moisture. I don't stand the heat at all and it suits me when the temperatures don't exceed 30°C. And, plenty of rain certainly saves the money because I don't have to water the garden using the tap water. The most of the plants do very well in such weather conditions. On the other hand, the roses don't stand rainy weather very well. Most buds die and rot before they have a chance to open. The lack of sun and too much rain takes its toll. Anyway, it is the second wave of flowering and there are still beautiful flowers to enjoy.

'Red Eden Rose'

The Morning glory twines around the rustic fence I made in spring. It is in the garden shed area, as I call it, which I plan to re-plant in autumn. I will transfer all of the herbs there I have a 'proper' herb garden. The site is ideal with lots of afternoon sun. One almost dead sage I planted there in spring doubled in it's size!

The cone flower will continue to flower in August for at least two more weeks. I did not cut flowers last year and they shed the seeds. I have plenty of seedling which are ready to transplant elsewhere in the garden. This new white one is called 'White Swan' and I am looking forward to collect it's seeds.

Houttuynia cordata is an interesting plant with colourful leaves. It doesn't smell nicely but looks great as ground cover. Its Chinese name literally means 'fishy-smell plant'. To me, it doesn't smell like fish. The smell is rather unique and I cannot really describe it.

I have the cultivar called 'Chameleon', which certainly lives up to its name. But, only the foliage in sunny positions develop the red colour while the leaves in shade remain green and yellow.

After the Rain

It has been raining for four days (it feels more like Autumn that Summer) but it doesn't bother the day lilies at all. They are blooming tirelessly.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014


My Aronia bush is still in the pot where I planted it last year. I still haven't found a place for it in the garden. Sounds ridiculous because my garden is pretty spacious. But, the garden is already planted according to some plan of mine and wherever I put it it looks out of place.
This year, every branch carries a bunch of berries. Last year it was only one bunch of flowers and I haven't try any of the berries because the birds ate them all!
I am thinking about putting some net over the bush to prevent birds stealing the berries from me. They have just started changing the colour.