Blossom end rot

Blossom end rotOur brandywine tomato plant went from being giant and promising to decrepit and homely before any of the wonderful golden fruit could be harvested. The fruits have sunken, black bruising on the bottom that I initially mistook for simple bruising. Luckily, mom has had the same blight before and clued me in to blossom end rot. Looks like the problem isn’t stressed growth, crowding, or drought, but more than likely a calcium issue. Or possibly uneven watering.

Either way, I’m hoping to address it before all the fruit is ruined. The brandywine is the easiest way to recoup the cost of a yard garden because the math is so simple. One tomato = four dollars. 15 tomatoes, and the entire raised bed has been paid for. Two tomatoes and all the initial seeds are paid for. Now I have to use other math.

Perils of spring weather

Michelle and I took full advantage of the glorious weather to work the yard in to shape. We also added a third raised bed in the front yard, which Michelle agreed to with some trepidation. It’ll be nice to have another bed that gets more sun and won’t be as likely to have heirloom tomatoes plucked by passer-bys.

This evening after a second full day of yard work, we decided a walk to Pause was in order. On the walk there, we discovered that the two warm days was enough to get the ants out, and we passed through hatch after hatch of flying ants. The patio at Pause was even getting swarmed, but I seemed to be taking the brunt of the, well, nuisance. The nuisance quickly turned in to sheer terror when one ant landed on my ear lobe and crawled up and in to my ear canal. A quick finger after him wasn’t enough and he crawled in to some place that tickled like hell. The movement somewhere that only water and wax goes was the stuff of childhood nightmares. The tickling was roughly where my jaw hinged, and it was not normal. For the next 4 minutes I thrashed my head around, used my finger to suction and plunge, and finally flooded my ear with water. That seems to have done the trick, though I kept having to remind myself that the ear was a closed-enough system that nothing could go too wrong.

Still, I hope that never happens again.

Soldier Fly Larvae

Earlier this year my parents discovered a hatch of larvae in their compost bin. They asked me if I knew what they were, but I’d not seen that many of the little burrowers before. My mom called the county extension office and found out they were harmless but I don’t recall what the little dudes were.

As it turns out, the little grubs were Soldier Fly maggots, and they’re excellent vermicomposters. If we’d thought of it, we could have simply given some to the chickens as well.

Alan is going to give me a handful of red worms and soldier fly maggots to seed my compost bin. I’m less interested in keeping compost for gardening, but I’d like to keep food scraps out of the waste stream. The chickens aren’t very reliable for eating scraps either. It’s like pulling beaks to get them to eat lettuce, though they do seem to enjoy the star anise that I can’t get rid of from the various flower beds.