Crook plants & a wander through the patch..

Posted January 26th, 2015 by Rob Bob : )»

A Virus in the patch :-/
Plant diseases can be a persistent problem in the veggie patch if you don't get on top of them quickly.. Luckily enough for us the most common diseases we have to face in the patch are powdery & downy mildew.. Both of these can easily be treated & controlled with a simple spray made of bi-carb soda (baking powder) & water.. Plant viruses are unfortunately a little bit harder to deal with as there are no effective treatments once the plant is infected.. They first became an issue in our garden a year or so ago when we started to notice that the leaves of some heirloom tomatoes were not developing correctly.. The same deformation of the leaves started to quickly appear on 2 lots of potatoes & a few eggplants..
The infected plants all had a noticeable symptom of an fern like curling of the leaves.. This severely stunted all growth & stopped any flowers forming on the fruiting plants.. I was lucky that at the time I had a visit from a knowledgeable mate (Cheers Sir Dave) that identified the cause of the weird leaf curling as a plant virus, possibly cucumber mosaic virus, although we never had an official diagnosis made..
Plant viruses are normally spread by sap sucking insects like aphids, whitefly, thrips as well as some leaf eating insects, so it does pay to stay on top of them if you see them around the patch.. I have read that it isn't a good idea to spray the plants for pest insects once a viral infection has been identified.. The reason being that this will quite often make the insects carrying the infections flee to other plants, in turn infecting them..
There is no treatment for a plant once it's infected other than to remove the plant material & dispose of it outside the garden.. Have included a link to a webpage/PDF download that has more information to help identify different plant viruses you might encounter in your patch, the plants they can infect & the means by which they are transmitted..
This Summer we've seen infections pop up in a few spots in the garden.. The "giant tree" tomato was the first casualty, from there it spread to a few nearby capsicum seedlings.. We have also seen the symptoms show up in a few other plants like the celery & some potatoes down the back, again all located within a few meters of each other.. Most of the plants have already been removed so I hope we have stopped or at least slowed down its spread..
After chatting to some gardening friends online recently (Cheers Nathan & folks), I narrowed down the weird cupping of the leaves on the yacon to most possibly caused by a plant virus as well.. I think it may be the cucumber mosaic virus as it is known to affect many different types of plants but, as I said above I haven't had any samples tested.. On the upside, I got to do an early harvest & ended up with a few sweet yacon roots to juice & munch on..
Hope that helps a few folks that have come across similar issues with their plants but were unsure of what they were..

A wander around the patch..
Thought I'd give you a bit of a walk through the yard in this blog.. We have a few new plants on the go as well as a few upcoming changes we want to implement around the patch..
Bits out the front..
I have let some of the beds out the front have a bit of a rest over the past few months so there isn't a lot going on out there.. Most beds were given a bit of a feed with some stable scrapings with a few then going on to provide us mini harvests from volunteer plants which has been great..

The asparagus bed slowed down it's spear production for a while but has bounced back nicely after a few doses of compost tea (funny that).. The spear size we are now getting is a lot smaller & would normally be let go to turn to fern by most folks..
One way you can continue to get a small harvest from your plants once the spear size is too small for harvesting is to "tip" the thin young spears once they reach a certain length..
I like to let them grow to about 600-800mm (2-2½') & then pinch off the tender growing tip.. This way we can extend the harvest while also allowing the plant enough greenery to provide energy for the crown to grow & thrive.. It also keeps the plant ferns from exploding onto the lawn..
While the small tips look a tad scraggly they taste just as nice as the large juvenile spears..

The Perpetual spinach in the bed next to it were knocked around by the recent hot weather..
We have been using the spinach as chook fodder mainly & will be sowing a few more to replace these plants.. Am looking at turning this bed into a corn bed in a month or so after the other corn matures a bit..

The next bed has had the yellow cherry tomatoes removed as it was starting to look a bit scrappy & the production slowed down.. Half a dozen field peas were sown out in there along with a couple of tromboncino (trombone) zucchini..
To get the bed ready for the zucchini it was top dressed with some commercial compost, then a 100mm/4" layer of aged horse manure & topped it all off with some mulch.. The manure will not only feed the soil but will also keep the compost worms in the bed well fed.. A mesh wire trellis will be added so the zucchini has something to climb on once they put on a bit of size..

Kira's bed is booming at the moment..
It's looking rather jam packed with 2 volunteer Thai basil & LOADS of French marigolds.. The Thai basil is covered in flowers & it won't be long before the same can be said of the marigolds.. Has been great watching all the hoverflies & the different bees come in to feast on the basil flowers..

The next bed was planted out with some sweet corn a few weeks ago.. Unfortunately the high temperatures we had last weekend knocked a lot of the new shoots off, so I decided buy some seedlings to fill the gaps..
With Sundays temperature said to be reaching 38°C/100°F I decided to pop some small sections of shade cloth up over both the corn & zucchini beds.. That way I won't have to replant then both again ;-)

The next bed has a volunteer rockmelon pop up in the corner while the corn was in there.. Since the corn was removed it has decided to take over the front corner of the yard including the bed next to it..
So far we've had 2 fruit ripen on the vine, the first one was unfortunately split & infested with bugs but the second was perfect :-) I have a feeling that these are the offspring of a store bought fruit as they are nowhere near as sweet as any of the varieties we have grown before.. They do have a very strong rockmelon flavour though & taste great in the morning juice..


The banana tree has a bunch of fruit on it..
It only set a few hands of fruit before the flowers stopped producing.. Not really a big concern to us as we are interested in using the flower in a meal as well.. A few online friends have forwarded us recipes & am hoping to try one on Monday night..

Here is a closer look at the banana flowers for those that have never seen one up close.. I think they are most attractive.

Bits Out the Back..
Things out the back have been going a bit slow lately as a few of the beds are being allowed to rest for a few months like some out the front..

Have decided to get some late Summer tomato starts on the go.. 4 types of dwarf, 2 cherry & a few "Brain" tomato seeds should see us through to mid Winter I hope.. Have also started off some golden purslane & Ice plant to add a bit of variety to our green salads.. Unfortunately the Ice plant doesn't look to be liking the warm weather so am glad I still have a few seeds to sow out if these don't make it..

A first for us this year is using green pawpaw/papaya in salads..
It had a mild flavour & went really well in an Asian style salad we made up the other night.. Was definitely a lot better received by the girls than the ripe fruit we picked ;-) Will be making up a green mango & pawpaw salad tonight to try out a Thai style dressing methinks.. Far too hot for an Australia day lamb roast/BBQ methinks ;-)

Bianca & I have also decided to remove the longest wicking bed in the patch as we are 99% certain that the reservoir membrane has been compromised and is allowing water to escape..
At this stage we will be replacing it with a series of smaller wicking beds that will all be connected to an auto top up reservoir which will make them easier to fill.. I'm thinking they will be built along the lines of our Auto Top Up Wicking Barrels.. I am contemplating plumbing them up slightly different though so that might also be suitable to add into the aquaponic system at some point in the future.. Before that happens though we will need to harvest the potatoes & transplant the chilli bush from the bed.. Jobs I might get to today if this afternoon is cool enough..

One lot of plants I'm very pleased with so far this Summer has been the spice plants..
We have 5 stands of turmeric in various wicking gardens & barrels with all of them putting on some great growth.. One barrel in particular has even managed to dazzle us again with some very beautiful flowers..
The flower on the left with the pink tinge to the petals is a newly emerged Madras turmeric flower & the one on the right shows how it fades into a green tinge after a week or so..
We also have 4 types of culinary ginger around the patch as well..

The Kencur ginger is a low growing ginger that has a rather stunning little flower.. We haven't cooked with this or the Chinese keys ginger, as we are trying to grow enough rhizome to get larger yields next season.. Am sure that a small amount will be set aside once the plants die back at the end of the season this year to go into a meal or 2 ;-)

We also have a couple of normal gingers in the aquaponics as well as in a wicking bed..
These are doing well so far but am kicking myself for not getting more planted out.. There is always next season I suppose..

The 4th type of ginger we grow is the Thai ginger also known as galangal.. We still have the original stand of galangal in a bed behind the chook pen that we harvest as we need rhizome for our meals..
I also have a few small pots of galangal that were started from seed last season but they haven't made it out into the patch as of yet.. I'm thinking I might just have to pop one into the other bed behind the chook pen & another into an air pruning pouch this afternoon ;-)

The small air pruning garden we have on the go is doing fantastically at the moment..
Both the sweet potato & cucumber have taken off.. The capsicums are a bit slower to develop but a few do have fruit on them already.. Will have to start keeping an eye out for the fruit fly & might even start bagging up some of the fruit now to protect them I think :-/

A fishy Update..
Have finally set the fish farm up the way it was meant to run a few weeks ago when the Silver perch were removed & added into the aquaponic system.. That left 59 Jade perch to split between the 2 fish tanks of this system.. Between the fish farm & aquaponics we should be having a few meals of fish a week once they put on a bit more size, something that we are looking forward to.. Might even pop a few in the smoker ;-)
I did a bit of a clip showing how the fish were moved & also covered how much feed the fish are getting for folks that might be interested..

That's about it for this month.. Hope you enjoyed the quick walk around the patch & that Summer is treating you & your patch well.. Is crazy to think sitting here in 36°C heat that we are only 6 or so weeks away from starting off some of our cool weather crops..
Cheers folks & have a great one..

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