Friday, June 19, 2009

Gardening (or, Where's the Neem? I need It NOW)

Sometime in April, I started a container vegetable garden in my boyfriend's backyard. I've been wanting a garden for a while and we were at Lowe's and suddenly there were seeds and plants and container soil in our hands. We planted an orange bell pepper plant, Brussels sprouts, and peas (these were from seed). We watched eagerly as the pea plants sprouted and grew and then watched in dismay as they fell over and died. The pepper plant has so far been reluctant to actually produce peppers. It has one rather big one that hasn't started to turn orange but rather instead seems to have fallen victim to blossom end rot. Ergh! There are finally some little peppers starting to grow near the top and I am hoping that they will be all right. As for the Brussels. . . well, they were doing fine until something came and decided to start eating them! This morning, I plucked a little green inch worm off one of its leaves. And there appear to be little green specks all about the Brussels, which makes me nervous. Is there about to be an insane (or rather, even more insane) infestation of buggies in my garden?

This is my first garden since I was little and my dad did all the work. I grew an oregano plant in the window last year, which came back this year bigger and badder than before, and perhaps that went to my head. But I suppose my gardening skills are no match for the South Philly fauna. Squirrels regularly come by and pick the mulch out of the pepper pot. The garlic/chili pepper spray I concocted does not keep the bugs or the fungus (did I mention that there are mushrooms growing everywhere? I think their spores were in the potting soil we got. I don't recommend Sta-Green for that reason.)

My attitude has completely changed since I started this project. Before, I thought, hey, people have been doing this for thousands of years! I can too! And you know what, I can. There are set backs, just like in any thing you try, and I will overcome them. Gardening is hard work, I've learned that. It's a battle and once you let your defenses down, out come the little green worms and tiny flying bugs and those fricking squirrels.

I have some neem oil in the basement. Last year, my oregano was attacked by leafminers (even indoors) and, after a quick spray or seven of neem oil (diluted down), recovered. So, not that bugs can read, but considered yourselves warned, pests!

The photo at the top is the garden before pests and death got to it. The photos below are, well, pretty self explanatory.

I'm not actually pointing to the rot in this picture, just holding back the leaf so you can see it. Oh, and you can also see the leaves that something decided to eat.

Ah, peas (the dead plants in the back). I'd say you had a good run but you didn't.

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