Tuesday, January 24, 2012

It's a new year......

It's interesting how the new year brings new issues and events, that can either challenge you or make you wonder what else is lurking to make the year horrible? In the garden, my tomatoes which started off so well last year in October, by December I had pulled them all out. They had the most dreadful attack of red spider mite and blight combined, that I have ever seen. I've been reading up on plant diseases in The Garden Guardian's guide to environmentally responsible garden care, by Johan Gerber and luckily there is a good section of photographs showing what the various plant diseases look like. It's a bit like the medical textbooks which show the absolute worst cases of skin diseases you could imagine. It's extremely useful, because it doesn't help to treat a plant that has a fungal disease with a remedy for a bacterial disease. This book also shows the insect pests, but fortunately these are not really an issue for me, because the bantam hens have eradicated most pests by eating their larvae and eggs which are often in the soil. I manage to keep pests off broccoli by growing them under special netting.
I recently discovered that one can treat plants which have fungal diseases with milk. One part organic milk to 10 parts water, sprayed on all parts of the plant, will prevent disease like powdery mildew. I also discovered that bicarbonate of soda is great for preventing fungal diseases. You use two teaspoons of bicarb in a litre of water with a drop of detergent and a drop of vegetable oil. You need to spray preventatively, so I'm spraying once a week with one or other mixture. I am also experimenting with Echinacea spray against bacterial blight. I've been spraying once a week with a mixture of  Echinacea tincture and water. Time will tell if this is going to work, because blight seems to attack the plant as it gets older. After the loss of the first lot of tomato plants, I decided to plant a new batch of seedlings, and with all the fussing over them, and lots of compost, they are looking very healthy so far!! Fingers crossed.

I was very sad to lose one of my two old hens about a week ago. She appeared to have had a stroke and rapidly declined, dying within a day. I kept her comfortable giving her sips of water and placed her in a safe spot away from the other chooks. She was about ten years old and I had a very heavy heart for at least two days after she had gone. Now one of the young lot is sitting on five fertile eggs from my neighbour up the road. The other two bantams are sitting on unfertile eggs, together in a basket in the garden hut. I'm tempted to share the eggs between the three hens, so that they all get a chance at motherhood.
Sitting in vain, bless them. Should I give them two of the fertile eggs?