EARTH EDUCATION: Heat, bugs and radishes

McClatchy InteractiveJune 9, 2008 

Summer has come to the South. June began, and a couple of days later, right on cue, the temperature shot into the high 90s. It's been hovering near 100 for the last few days, with all the lovely humidity that accompanies a Southeastern summer. I spent a little time weeding this morning and had to bring a towel out to mop myself off.

My enthusiasm for planting seems to run in inverse proportion to the outside temperature. Nonetheless, I finally got the radish seeds in the ground, once the shade came over the garden. It's quite warm for radishes, I know, but they germinate quickly and hopefully I can keep them damp enough to stay cool. If they don't turn out, well - I've plowed two failed rows under already, and I can do it again if I need to.

From the One Step Forward, Two Steps Back Department: I sprinkled some blood meal around the bases of my existing plants, to boost the nitrogen level. Then I found bugs. I'm pretty sure the green ones are aphids, and I hope they'll be driven off when I water later today. There are also some white leavings on some of the leaves, and I don't know quite what left them. I picked up a bottle of something called Organocide at the garden supply store today, as well as some bigger stakes, and I figure I'll re-stake and de-bug in one fell swoop.

Still not a lot of progress on the pepper front. They've gotten taller - they're a couple of feet tall now - but I don't see much of anything growing once the blossoms fall. I'd been more worried about the tomatoes suffering in partial shade, but now I wonder if the peppers are the ones that are struggling most. Or maybe peppers are just a lot slower than tomatoes. On a positive note, none of the bugs that that are feeding off the tomato plants have made their way to the peppers.

From here: As far as the vegetables go, it's mostly maintenance right now. I'll watch and see if the radishes come up. I'll inspect the other plants for bugs - I found a caterpillar on one of the berry bushes today, along with the mystery beasts on the tomatoes. I also still want to find some flowers that grow well in the shade, so I can use the space with the little wall, and maybe even the strips under the eaves.

Kristen Halverson is about to pay for the mild winters in North Carolina. Email her at khalverson@mcclatchyinteractive.com.

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