This past summer was one for the books: heat, humidity, tiger mosquitos, too many Armadillos, and then three solid weeks of rain. Usually my garden is dried out and dead looking about now, but I have things blooming that typically bloom in May. My Tithonia (Mexican Sunflower) is so late this year. I planted the seeds at the normal time in the early spring, but they took forever to get going. Well, so did the pollinators this year. I had a whole summer without butterflies (other than our local Gulf Fritillaries), and now everyone is joining the party.
With all of the rain in August and early September, mold was a definite problem in the garden. I had white mold on my Salvia stems. I have never found fungicides to be particularly effective so I just cut back the infected stems. I have learned that the most important thing that you can do to prevent mold and other fungal diseases is to keep a good airflow. My garden will never be overflowing like the gardens in England, but at least I am not battling pests and disease. Judicious pruning and trimming is so much better than use of chemicals. If you have container plants suffering from fungus, the best thing to use is cinnamon. Now I would not buy the most expensive brand, but go to the Mexican spice section of the supermarket and get that or go to a Mexican market. Much cheaper. Sprinkle it on the top of the soil.
Another home remedy that is becoming popular is garlic spray. This will deter aphids, thrips, other pests, and downy mildew. You can buy it commercially or make your own by putting 4 garlic cloves in a tablespoon of mineral oil. Let this mixture sit for a day. Discard the cloves and add the oil to a pint spray bottle with 1 teaspoon of dish detergent. Shake and spray infected areas of the plant. So much better than those dangerous chemicals. It is heartening to see that many of them have been taken off the shelves and replaced with safer alternatives.
Speaking of chemicals, let’s talk about Glysophate. This is very controversial and you will no doubt notice scary posts about Glysophate, usually written by law firms hoping to attract clients. There is no scientific evidence that Glysophate is carcinogenic to humans. Most major organizations like the EEU, EPA, and WHO have declared Glysophate to be safe. The major issue is that it can be carried in water and that it does affect aquatic life.
By the way, the State of California has ruled that Glysophate is carcinogenic, but they also have ruled that Starbucks coffee is carcinogenic, my golf grips are carcinogenic, and just about everything else. There are Proposition 65 warning labels on just about everything. It certainly does not make you feel very safe about just living.
I should get this posted in case we lose power. Have you ever seen so many pinecones this year in the trees? I suspect that many of them will be in my yard after the storm passes. I will dutifully pick them all up because otherwise I will see a forest of baby pine trees in my garden next spring.
Stay safe and happy clean up. It does burn calories.