One of the joys of living in Colorado is the gorgeous gold of the aspen in fall. Other regions may boast more colorful foliage—the reds and purples of the hardwood forests to the east, for example—but nowhere else do we get the combination of cobalt blue skies, spectacular mountain scenery, and shimmering golden leaves. Such a treat is not to be missed, so we recently joined some friends and went leaf “peeping.”
Do your lilacs look like someone took a giant hole punch to their leaves? How about your rosebushes (left), green ash, or Virginia creeper? The first time I saw the precise circle of leaf missing from a leaf, I thought someone was playing a trick on me. It didn’t look at all like insect damage.
Our family loves bok choy, so I always plant at least one block of the baby variety. And every year I harvest bok choy that looks as if it’s been peppered with buckshot. I can explain that I washed the leaves and they’re perfectly safe to eat, but really—who wants to eat leaves that were eaten by something else first? Ewww.
The culprit behind all those holes is an aggravating insect called a Flea Beetle. No, they aren’t really fleas, and they only bite plants, not people. If you look closely, you’ll see they’re shaped like beetles (fleas are vertically flattened). Still, they are very small, dark brown to black, and they can jump—just like fleas. And just like fleas, they can drive you crazy.
Last August I posted my suggestion that we add inanimate objects to our life lists. For some reason, my idea didn’t meet with the enthusiasm I had hoped for. Still, I think it has merit. Birders love to catalog things, and think of all the different kinds of beer cans, water bottles, plastic bags, and similar items we can enjoy identifying and collecting.
In any case, I’m not giving up. Perhaps we balk at trash and rocks, but how about other living objects we might mistakenly perceive as birds? Surely we can consider such additions as…
Red, green, plain or fancy, tall, squat, and very delicious, lettuce is my favorite crop. Because I plant so much of it, I’ve experimented with dozens of varieties. And since there are hundreds to choose from, I’ve only scratched the surface. I’m always open to your suggestions.
“Deck the balls with boughs of holly” might work well in Merry Olde England, or even in the eastern U.S., but it’s not very practical at my house, just north of Colorado Springs, Colorado. We have too much sunshine, the air and soil is too dry, and our soils are too lean and too alkaline. Holly won’t survive winter’s dessicating winds. At least, that’s what I learned when we moved here.
So imagine my surprise a couple of weeks ago when I was out for a walk in a near-by subdivision, and there were two bushes, covered with green leaves and red berries, planted in the strip of soil between the sidewalk and the street. Could it be?
My cucumbers are sick. As far as I can tell (although I’m not 100% certain), they’re suffering from something called Alternaria Leaf Blight. But no matter what the particular fungus is, the leaves have expanding brown spots and are beginning to yellow and die, starting from the roots and working their way upward. New fruit is being aborted. It’s sad—very, very sad.
I don’t often have to contend with diseases in my garden. Good horticultural practices lead to healthy plants, and healthy plants resist disease. However, given our erratic weather and cold nights, I grow my cukes in my little greenhouse. Because options are so limited, I plant them in the same spot year after year. Even though I renew the nutrients in the soil, fungal spores accumulate, and now I’m dealing with the unhappy result.