Ruminations and recipes from a small kitchen in a big city.

12.8.11

Garden update: lacebugs defeat seven-foot hedge.

The lettuce in several varieties are trying hard but succumbing to bugs. But the mustard greens are holding their heads high. Even the snails and grubs won't touch them, thanks to their strong flavour, I suppose (I'm not sure how you get to prove that).

Got mustard greens in plenty? Try:
- Using them in place of spinach in filo pastries with fetta
- Boiling them with fenugreek (fresh or toasted seeds) and mixing with yogurt and a good dash of salt for a delicious Indian-inspired recipe. Good with vindaloo as a cooling side dish.

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One entire viburnum tinus hedge in the back garden: gone. I planted it in 2005 when we moved here. It got to seven feet tall within five years, a magnificent hedge with small white flowers that attract bees. One of those thousands of species of bugs that followed the breaking of the drought last year got it. Apparently viburnum is prone to the problem. Spraying would kill the bees, defeating the point of growing a flowering hedge. I tried predator bugs (available on special order from Bunnings) - a good solution in which they post you out a plastic bucket full of predators that eat only the pest, solving the problem with no ill consequences for friendly bugs or bees. You spread the bugs among the foliage and they go to work and eat all the pests.

However, I had misdiagnosed the pest (it turned out to be lacebug, not red spider mite) so the problem remained unsolved. Air movement apparently assists eradication of the bugs and this hedge was against a solid fence. So out it came. I have planted a hedging conifer.

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I can't even walk on the lawn right now. For the first time in years, the ground is completely sodden. It must have been like this years ago. We are on the banks of an ancient creek (a tributary to the Merri Creek) that now runs underground.

If you step onto the lawn, you sink into it, leaving foot indentations. I'll have to wait until it dries out - or at least becomes less sodden - before mowing. The accursed October winds will no doubt do the trick.

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