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Posts Tagged ‘currants’

The Good: Last year I fought a two-month battle with the currant sawfly. More specifically, I fought with its caterpillar-type larvae. This was the devastation they wrought. Who needs Agent Orange?

I didn’t really win the battle in that I didn’t get a single currant, but I did wind up with a few leaves on the two bushes in the end.

Return of the currant bush- July 2010

Because the wigglers were so destructive I had to cut the plants right back. I was pretty surprised that the bushes recovered. The darn bugs have two broods each spring, so I was watching into this July, rubbing off eggs and picking worms.

This spring I was actually able to kill adult flies. The weather was cold and this seem to slow them right down. I checked the plants twice a day for the eggs and eventually gave up rubbing off the eggs–I just pulled off the leaves.

I was much crueler with the wormies–I picked them off and fed them to the ants. (No pictures of the massacre.)

Currants set fruit on last year’s wood. There wasn’t much in the way of wood for this year, so we got a total of only 18 berries. But aren’t they beautiful?

Not sure what to do with 18 currants. Won’t make very big pie or a lot of jam. But we are optimistic for next year.

Return of the currant bush: July 2011

The Good: I often feel disappointed that the camera doesn’t capture the true colour of a plant. This pretty hydrangea serrata “Bluebird” is a sweet pink and looks great against the split leaf Japanese maple.  And I love the blue pots.

The Sluggly: Many people are calling this the summer that wasn’t. It has been grey and rainy for more than two months, though it looks like better days are ahead for our sailing trip (fingers crossed). I have been sweating about my veggy garden–the tomatoes in particular. They were purple with cold in late May and early June but were finally looking perky with healthy leaves, pretty blooms, and yes, fruit when school let out.

But too much rain…well, it’s like the damn slugs are falling from the sky. And then when they arrive they want to eat. And party with their bug friends.

So that was the end of those two tomatoes. The first two that looked like they might amount to something.  On to the kale. And during daylight, no less.

Sigh. Who’s your garden nemesis?

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I have been puttering around the garden, energizer bunny style (but without the drum), pruning and moving plants. Some plants needed more light, some need less. Many have (had!) crowded, twisted branches. Some needed to be rescued from the chomping ivories of the deer, others from the slurping mouth parts tiny voracious bugs.

I am quite proud of resurrecting the currant bushes. Remember this and this?  A month and half later they look much more robust:

I will take some credit. I have checked the leaves every day for the rotters that did the damage in the first place: gooseberry sawflies. These villains keep attempting a comeback. The adults lay eggs in neat little rows on the undersides of the leaves. They look like little rice grains.The initial caterpillar nymphs make pinpricks in the leaves and just start stuffing their gobs.

Then they grow into larger, fatter, more voracious caterpillar-types.

Unless I get to them first!

I discovered a sad little hydrangea hidden among the cranesbill.

It gets pretty hot next to the concrete wall so the plant was pretty well cooked. It was nearly dead, in fact. I whacked it back and moved it, and crossed my fingers.

Looks hopeful for next year.

I now have three favourite gardening tools. First, these loppers. They are satisfying to use–I feel like a short, weakling lumberjack.

We have several large holly bushes taking over acreage. They are an invasive species here and seed easily. I can pull little seedlings by hand, but established bushes take more muscle. This monster was seven feet tall so I had to take it down branch by branch, then Chris tore the trunk out. We had to jump up and down on it to loosen it from the soil.

I also love my secateurs, especially now that Chris has given them a tune up. They feel great in my hand. Again, I feel like a pro using them.

Finally, I love this rake. Chris bought it for me so I could clean up the piles of branches that were accumulating in the yard as the result of my zealous pruning. And with all the Douglas fir in the yard, it will help with the endless pine cone gathering. Note the drywall dust on the handle–it’s everywhere.

The rakings go to the trailer, which goes to the yard waste pile at the dump, which becomes compost, which we will buy back eventually, which will go to our yard.

Which leads me to the “lose some”. In a very shady spot in the garden, a pretty pink mallow was struggling for some sun. I moved it to the hot spot that the hydrangea was in…with sad results.

So I whacked it back, and we will just wait and see. Hoping for a little currant bush good luck.

Do you get the feeling that there is a garden god who monitors your level of green thumb arrogance and takes you down a notch when you get a wee bit cocky? Do you have a plant resurrection tale? Or have you battled bugs and won? Do tell! I’d love to hear your war stories.

And thanks for reading. 🙂

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