Mighty Mites

plants on deck: melon aphidsplants on deck: melon aphidsPlants on Deck’s bane is back. Like clockwork the pesky sap-sucker, this time we’re looking at melon aphids, has made a mess out of POD’s cucumber patch.

With a little discouragement from UMass Amherst and Clemson, identification is hovering around 99.9%. Even more depressingly, POD never realized what a wide array of life-sucking aphids existed.

Adding insult to injury, these beasts can transmit the sooty mold (yup, POD’s got that, too) virus within 15 seconds — let’s repeat that: 15 SECONDS — of piercing the leaf with their nasty little slurping mouthparts.

And they’re fertile too, naturally, “…winged females colonize crops in early summer, and wingless females produce live young for about 15 days (70-80 offspring per female) resulting in multiple generations. The time from birth to reproductive adult can be one week.” Yup, we’re doomed.

Prevention is the best medicine, but needless to say, despite ample experience with the boogers, reflective mulching was not employed in this year’s slack-bottomed garden. One of the benefits to plants out front, though, is that daily hosing of the undersides of the leaves is (more or less) keeping things in check (more or less) for now. Long enough, the Hurricane hopes, to harvest a just a few more delicious cucumbers.

With a Mighty Triumph O’er Her Foes

early girl tomato blossomYup, up from the grave she arose. This brave, and now tardy, Early Girl managed to survive early planting (the poor dear was delivered in early April — way too early in POD’s experience to be planting tomatoes in Philly), crap soil (which, after a full refund was augmented with a good deal of organic fertilizer), and Hitchcockian bird attacks.

You’re looking at the one, and only, plant on late early girl tomatodeck. Sheer laziness (and good deep-soil planting technique, thank you very much) was its savior, as this gardener was far too despondent about the prospect of the total failure of Plants on Deck to bother removing it. And it’s a good thing, too, as the three sizable and just ripening tomatoes out front were stolen away in the dark of night by one of South Philly’s charming pedestrians.