Except for the tinkling of wind chimes, the whir of fans and chirping of insects in the grass, all is quiet. Late Summer has arrived here at The Portable Homestead!
We've had a blessed break from the oppressive humidity and heat, which started the end of last week and has only gotten better with each day. Windows wide open until about 3pm, our hottest time of day here, then the a/c for a couple of hours and back to widows wide open until afternoon the next day again.
The appearance of Autumn-like weather has been just what my spirits needed and just in the nick of time too! Because of the humidity & heat + bronchitis & sinus infection, I've spent most of July indoors at home and cabin fever had me in such an awful, sad mood.
Normally I go for a garden walk every morning. This daily morning ritual isn't just about having to water early (especially during heatwaves), taking photos and spending time appreciating the beauty of my small space, it's about looking over everything in the garden - squirting aphids with water to get them off the roses, removing black spot from the roses, treating powdery mildew where I find it, deadheading & pruning, and making sure nothing else is wrong in the garden.
This past Thursday and Friday, I didn't go for my morning garden walks. We'd had plenty of rain on Thursday so I didn't need to water. I was just plain exhausted and didn't have the energy to go out there. (Those of you living with disease can relate, I know). Everything had been fine on Wednesday.
Saturday morning I started making my watering rounds and discovered the foliage of two sections of morning glories, beans and my raspberries looking like delicate lace!
What in the world...? (Of course, that's the censored version of what actually came out of my mouth!)
And then I found this on the underside of one of the leaves:
|Tortoise Beetle aka Golden Tortoise Beetle.|
And then I found another, and another, and another, and another... I may have 2 different Praying Mantis's in my garden (which apparently like to eat the nasty tortoise beetles) but, if they ate all that I found, they would have likely exploded!
Disgusted, I filled a 5 gallon bucket with hot hot hot water and added dish soap. For the first time ever, I cut down my raspberry canes (what was left of them) and into the bucket they went. I ripped out the morning glories + one section of beans and into the bucket they went. Along with pieces of my heart. After draining the soapy mess, the debris went into a garbage bag that went into the dumpster.
On Sunday I clipped any leaves that had holes or didn't look healthy from two more sections of beans and now what's left of only one of two sections of morning glories.
Along with the usual deadheading of roses, yesterday I spent the morning cutting down lemon balm, bee balm and salvia, along with clipping leaves, weeding, and pruning the butterfly bushes - all of which looked like those poor morning glories, beans and raspberries by the time I got to them on Saturday.
My poor garden has taken so many hits these last few years! Feast or famine weather extremes, Hurricane Irene in August of 2011 then Hurricane Sandy just 14 months later last October, which did the most damage of all. Before Sandy, I had maxed out on space for plants. Now the gaping holes greet me every day. There has been very little budget for gardening at The Portable Homestead this year so I've yet to really begin replacing what's been lost.
The casualties are adding up like crazy: 3 trees, 2 fences, 2 gates, 2 arbors, 5 roses, 2 butterfly bushes, 1 clematis, half of 6 roses, half of 2 butterfly bushes... And now add this! Plus the overwhelming blackspot since before the roses even had buds this year...
I'd hate, hate, hate to have to spray - I prefer to garden chemical free - but, I have lost so much due to forces beyond my control, I'll be damned if I'm going to lose more by those I can control. Aphids are one thing - these tortoise beetles are another matter entirely (and one I've never seen in my garden before).
DA Gertrude Jekyll (rose) has quite the case of 'naked knees' due to blackspot & powdery mildew. (It may be my imagination, but I'm quite sure Queen Elizabeth grandiflora (rose) is snickering over it!)
And I may, maybe, might, possibly, have rose rosette on two roses... (I'm not in denial, YET, I'm keeping an eye on the suspects to see how they grow).
(insert wailing & garbled whining here)
I've found myself asking why I even bother?!
When Nature betrays you, it's utterly heartbreaking. Devastating.
But, like writing, I can't not garden. It's who I am.
So I will curse, I will cry, I will do my best to take the bad with the good (sometimes I won't do my best and I'll go back to crying) and then I will go back to tending what's left of my garden with love & being thankful for being able to do so in this space.
And maybe soon, I'll be ready to start again.