Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Backyard Bafflement

Early in the morning, before the sun's up and while the humidity is still tolerable, outdoors beckons. With NPR commentators earnestly narrating the seeming hopelessness of health care reform efforts, jobless recovery and violence looming around Afghani elections in my ears, I tend to things I can control like the insidiousness of ivy and other interlopers. On Saturday, I came across this little guy, perched on azalea foliage facing the house, presumably offering up an intercessory prayer. Weed whackers and wacky weeders can only do so much, after all.

Some fleet-footed culprit has made off with every bell pepper that even deigned to bud, the stalks snapped from the stem right at the base. I've seen one bell pepper all summer, barely the size of my pinky finger nail; days later it was gone. There's been no squash, no semblance of cantaloupe--but a lot of trailing vine, early on there was some lettuce, a couple of jalapenos and a banana pepper, no beans. There's been tomatoes in abundance though, nice sweet grape ones and bigger, less sweet gold cherry tomatoes. Unfortunately, of late they've been afflicted by some baffling disorder I ave yet to diagnose. From what I've seen, it's not late blight that commonly afflicts tomato plants around here this time of year; I have no idea what it is. The symptom is a white line that starts around the base where the fruit was attached to the stalk and curves around down the length of the tomato, causing it to split. What the...?

Then there's this cottony looking growth on a miniature rose bush that I've been trying to get rid of for years (the rose bush, that is)

Good gardening news pierces my bafflement from one of my favorite nooks in the world, Burkina Faso. Mark Hertsgaard's travelling the continent, to see how Africans are coping with climate change that adversely affects their crops' growth potential more than anywhere else. Humanity began in Africa, and unless greenhouse gas emissions are drastically reduced there but mostly elsewhere, I fear it will begin to end there too, but I digress...

An illiterate Burkinabe farmer's idea is greening the Sahel, as he shares his idea and technique to grow trees from one village to the next. As a result there are nearly 20 times more trees in the western Sahel now than there were in 1975, combatting drought by helping the earth retain rainfall, fallen leaves fertilizing the soil, shade providing shelter from the sun's persistence.

Speaking of which, the sun's peaking through the leaves here now; time to seek shelter in the hammock.


Windroot said...

I live about 50 miles west northwest of DC and it has been a difficult year for gardening. The tomato thing I think is caused by uneven rainfall or watering. What happens is you get a sudden burst of rain and the roots suck up the water faster than the skin can expand to accommodate the new flesh. That causes the skin to split. The only hope of preventing this is to be faithful in regularly watering your plants and hope that you don't get too many torrential downpours.

Garden Gnome Wanderings said...

Thanks for commenting on my blog :) Your white lines that then split are as Windroot indicated caused buy uneven rainfall or watering. The problem this year in our area has been the heavy downpours along with the amount of rain that cause the splitting.


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