I’ve been trying to work on having food available for beneficial
insects this season. I usually have a good patch of borage, but this
year I’ve been firmly stepping on my tidy-freak instincts and leaving
things like old celery and fennel to go to seed, as their umbrella-type
flowers are the perfect landing pads for parasitic wasps. It may be my
imagination, but I think I’ve had less of a problem with the aphids
they feed on this summer. I only had one real case of aphids – black
ones on my chives – which I was able to take care of with a single dose
of neem and detergent.

More of a problem this summer has been the sparrows. They’re attracted by the chickens’ food, but the little
sods have been shredding everything around the coop – a whole planting
of lettuces and a teepee of peas were ruined. They’re onto my next crop
of peas now, and I really need to get some more netting to keep ‘em
off. I’ve put all my winter brassicas under a tunnel of Microclima
cloth to protect them, as they’re right next to the chooks. Still,
that’s good for keeping the white cabbage moth off too. Bastian is
working on a feeder for the chooks of the type that is opened by the
chook’s weight on a perch in front. (I have visions of the sparrows
teaming up to provide enough weight…)

Recent plantings have been the aforementioned brassica and lettuce seedlings, acquired in a trade from N for a selection of fresh vege. I’ve also planted out seeds of radishes,
spring onions, carrots, peas, corn salad and multiplying leeks. Some of
these would be far too late in the season in an ordinary summer, but
the cool weather when I planted them meant it was worth trying for another crop. Hot now though!

Beans. OMG, beans. The scarlet runners are still in full production, and the purple kings are coming online (they were planted late). My
current fave way of cooking them is just to chop them into a small
casserole dish, add salt, pepper, a knob of butter and a sprinkling of
finely-chopped salami. Cover and nuke for a few minutes until they’re
as done as you like ‘em. Fast food that’s good!

On the fruit front the apples are ready. All ten of them. Fruits that is, not trees. :-) I have three columnar apple trees of
different varieties. One has a bad case of mildew but the other two are
almost untouched. I wonder whether the infected variety is just more
susceptible, or if it’s because it’s closer to the fence so gets the
sun slightly later in the morning? It’s not much of a difference
though, so I’m thinking it might be more to do with the variety. My
garden lady peaches are ready too – they’re well ahead of the golden
queen tree. The rhubarb is still being monstrous, and has to be hacked
back periodically so we can walk up the path. (I laugh at the garden
books that say you need to be leaving your rhubarb alone at this time
of year so it can build up energy for winter. If I did that to mine
it’d take over the world!) The feijoas have flowered – fingers crossed
we get some fruit this year! The black Doris plum has seven whole plums
on it! I shall savour every one. :-)

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Comment by Kali on February 26, 2010 at 4:40pm
ahh the joys of fruit trees, possums got almost all of our apples, now they have started on the pears and I got to eat one plum, it fell off before it was ripe...heres hoping the fejoas will come to something.

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