Thursday, July 24, 2014

A New Foe

We are having another round of rain, thunder, and lightning.  Definitely an indoor, cozy kind of day.

I have been putting off writing about the discovery we made July 16th.  It still needles and tires me to think about.  Earlier in the month, we discovered, to our surprise, that our radishes were riddled with little maggots.  None of the radishes were salvageable.  We thought this was very strange, but considered it an unfortunate fluke, composted the radishes, and forgot about it.

We had also been noticing that the onions were looking wilted, with parts of the stalks turning brown even though they were far from being large enough to pick.  We had never grown onions before, so thought maybe this was just their process.  One looked particularly sickly, so R pulled it, only to discover the same little maggots chowing down on the onion!  I couldn't imagine something wanting to munch on raw onions.  He pulled several more and they, too, were riddled with maggots.

I came inside to do an online search.  Meet the root maggot, the latest infernal beast to blight our garden.  Their favourite targets are brassicas (so this is why we lost several broccoli this year), carrots, and onions.  They have been known to go after bean plants as well, on rare occasions.  I had never seen or heard of them before this summer.  The eggs can survive through the winter, so we can't count on the frigid temps to kill them.  I will have to take measures to not only prevent the flies from laying eggs at the base of newly germinated vegetables next Spring (mulch heavily, sprinkle with diatomaceous earth or wood ash, and/or drape all areas securely with row cover), but to deal with any eggs still in the soil by adding nematodes to the soil next Spring and tilling very deeply late this Fall.

We ended up having to pull out our entire onion patch.  We salvaged parts of about about 10 onions, which we immediately chopped and froze.  The information I read online recommended not composting anything effected by root maggots, so we tossed the onions and stems directly into the trash can.  What a disappointing afternoon.  Not only did we lose our onions, we didn't even come out of it with stuff for our compost bins.  

We have had about a week of rainy weather with a number of storms, sometimes including hail.  Between the incoming storm and the sky being full of smoke from wildfires, the morning of the 18th had the eeriest atmosphere I have ever experienced.  I was sure a huge hail or wind storm was going to hit.  Everything was cast with a gray-orange, and then green, light. The clouds had a strange shape and hung close to the ground.  Thankfully, we ended up only getting rain later in the day, but words like "apocalypse", "zombies", "tornado", "creepy" and "bunker" were on the tip of everyone's tongue as I ran errands downtown that morning.

A few pictures from the past week and a half:
The onion bed.  Back to square one.

Red frilly mustard bolting.

The first Scarlet Flax flower to appear.

 The basil is finally taking off.

I am not sure what kind of dahlia this is, but it's cute.  The first few blooms have been lacking a full set of petals.

Broccoli - we have harvested and blanched 7 heads so far.  The heads started to bolt when they were still fairly small, which is always frustrating.  They certainly taste great, though!

Puddles in the garden!  It poured on the 16th.

R transferring water from the barrels near the house to the ones at the front of the property.  All of our barrels went from being empty to full in about 45 minutes.  That is 3000 litres of water, plus a 40 gallon drum.

Filling the cat's water dish.  They prefer rain water (or melted snow) to tap water!

A few days later, in the sunshine, Karl curled up on the hot lid of one of the rain barrels.

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