Six weeks into quarantine and I still have plenty to keep me busy in the garden. In fact, April is usually pretty busy and this year is no exception.
Temperatures are slowly rising and I have started more beans, a batch of tomatoes and peppers, and even some melon seeds. I’ve discovered a new pest, there’s something odd happening in my corn patch, and my nectarine tree isn’t doing well. The big news this week was my first honey harvest.
While many beekeepers are struggling to keep their hives healthy and productive, mine came through the winter healthy enough to swarm a second time. My friend, John, came over to collect the swarm and he helped me swap out heavily laden frames from one super and I added a new super on top. The bees were pretty calm about the whole procedure. Some of the honey had crystalized, but I ended up with 27 pounds of honey and 6 pounds of beeswax. I guess I’ll have to try my hand at candle-making.
Corn crop quandary
After caging one of my raised beds and planting corn, lentils, and yellow watermelon, I noticed one half of the corn is coming up beautifully and the other half doesn’t seem to be doing anything at all. It may be that they are different varieties, but, more likely, it has to do with the fact that the corn planted on the right was from last year’s seed. It may make it and it may not, but the corn on the left is doing well. If you look closely at the photo, you can see peas growing along the back, which I had thought failed, and, in the middle, you can see new growth on a broccoli stalk I had cut back to soil level. These plants never cease to amaze me.
Potato crop rotation
I decided to move my potato crop from a raised bed close to my patio to the bed farthest away. Once potatoes get established, they don’t need a whole lot of attention or protection. They had been growing in the same bed since 2015 and crop rotation is a good way to disrupt potential pest or disease problems.
Digging up all the potatoes and potato plants, I discovered dried fruit beetle grubs and wireworms. Wireworms are the larval stage of click beetles. They are bright yellow and a little more than one inch long. They have hard bodies and they burrow into root crops and stems of peas, beans, and melons, so I’m glad I decided to move my potatoes. My chickens were happy about it, too, but for different reasons.
Something bothering my beets
Speaking of soil-dwelling pests and being bothered, I discovered a new one in my beet patch. Harvesting a couple of beets for dinner, I discovered that the roots were significantly smaller than they should have been and that some very tiny, white centipede-like creatures were crawling around on the surface. Dang it. My beets have symphylans. Also known as garden centipedes, these tiny, fast-moving pseudocentipedes are not really related to centipedes at all. They are their own thing and they are a pain in the garden. Their presence explains why nearby kale seedlings never thrived. The only thing I can do is remove vulnerable plants, till the area a few times, and hope the symphylans don’t migrate into other areas of this 25’ long raised bed. Since these pests frequently burrow down 3-feet into the soil, chemical treatments are rarely helpful. I’ve read that beans aren’t as vulnerable, so I’ll plant beans there and see what happens.
Warty leaves on my nectarine tree
Once again, my nectarine tree has been infected with peach leaf curl. Our recent heavy rains made applying fixed copper ineffective and provided the perfect medium for fungal growth. Hopefully it won't lead to other problems, and I still have plenty of nectarine preserves from last year.
I’m not sure, but I think the Barbary dove eggs have hatched. There was much cooing back and forth between the parents a couple of days ago, though I haven’t seen any frequent feeding trips yet.
I hope you are all staying home and well, and enjoying time in your garden!
Kate Russell, writer, gardener, and so much more.