Thursday, May 15, 2008

Bougainvillea again

Every morning when I walk with the dogs, I count the veranera in bloom.  Latest count is 31 out of 36--but peak blooming season is past.  The heavy rains are beating the flowers off the plants, and I don't expect that a good third of the plants, relatively young ones, will keep their blooms much longer.  Now comes the struggle to nurse the three that I've recently planted through the rainy season.  They were big strong plants with good root systems, and I have high hopes.

One really pleasant  surprise this year was the transformation of the bougainvillea in the picture from just your ordinary, everyday, spectacular display to a gorgeous eye-catching bicolor.  It was completely red last year, and started out that way in January, but now sports salmon flowers as well.  I have no idea why bougainvillea do this.  On the porch we have a really beautiful red and white one that is too small this year to risk in the ground.  I'd like to see it about twice as big before I plant it.

Last weekend, we fertilized nearly all the plants and trees for which that's appropriate, including the bougainvillea.  With this week's rains, the plants have responded enthusiastically, so much so that I pruned this morning, taking some of the cuttings in hopes of rooting new plants.  I haven't had much luck in that regard, but I'm pretty sure that's because I'm using cuttings that are too tender.  It does seem that it's better to use at least semi-wooded cuttings.  However, most of what I did today was snip off new growth, gritting my teeth as I did so because of course that's where the new flowers will come.  I console myself with the thought that the season is almost over, and I need to restrain rampant growth.  I've been gratified to see that one of my questionable plants from last year has suddenly taken off, sprouting two very sturdy looking stems.  But one is still worrisome; it's holding its own but it has to do a lot better than that before the rains come in earnest in July.  There's time, but I hover over it like a mother hen with a non-too-sturdy chick.


Fraydoh said...

Hi Joyce and Mary,

I just found this in a file called "Temp". After some thought, I realized it was in response to your mention of a bug problem. I don't remember ever sending it to you, but then again, I may not remember what I ate for dinner last night, so if if it looks familiar, I apologize for posting it again.


My sister said this concoction worked well on bugs on her plants. They were Rhode Island bugs, and perhaps not as macho as Panamanian bugs.

1 gallon water
1 cup tobacco leaf, dried, chopped
1 tablespoon liquid detergent

Put tobacco leaf in water in a clear jug. Leave in the sun and steep until a dark tea color. Strain into another container and add the detergent. Apply as a spray.

You can certainly try this for almost nothing. Tobacco is easy to grow and decorative varieties are lovely. Do not apply this mixture to solinacea, e.g., peppers, tomatoes, eggplant. It might kill them.

Something I have done, which works fairly well is to surround the veggie garden with plants that bugs hate, e.g., really high-intensity peppers and any variety of heirloom marigolds. A friend of mine protected his entire house from bugs by planting these plants all around it. It worked very well and that was in a forested Florida location.

I did a search and found a recipe similar to the above but also another which might be even more appropriate for you.

And here's an interesting and serendipitous discovery from back when we had a really great veggie garden. Along the edge of our lettuce patch (an amalgam of heirloom varieties), we planted garlic. All the lettuce developed a mild garlic flavor! It was the best lettuce we ever grew. We theorized that the roots became entangled or something of that nature.


And on the topic of Spanish, thank you Mary for posting your Ipod finds. I'm pretty amazed at all the stuff you can stick on this thing. It's the only way I can keep up with Science Friday from NPR, and it just goes in there automatically. (Actually, I can't keep up -- I'm 30 episodes behind since September, but at least I have them!)

Hasta luego,


Joyce said...

Hi, Frédo--

I can't believe it--I posted a long reply to this and it disappeared into the ether!

First, that recipe your sister is using is deadly for more than bugs. What's she's doing is extracting nicotine, which is water-soluble. It's also a neurotoxin, I believe. "Once Upon A Time" (that's how bad my times sense is) one of the major networks did a documentary on the mysterious illness that affected tobacco workers. They would get extremely ill, and some even died. To make the story short, these attacks of illness would occur after a rainfall, when the workers were in the fields without gloves. The rain on the leaves would extract nicotine--and it was absorbed through the skin, causing all these neurological problems. I refuse to use it.

I'm aware of companion planting, but planting peppers right alongside the tomatoes did not protect the tomatoes from either white flies or aphids.

Our friend Ricardo Espinosa gave me this great recipe for use against white flies--and, I think, it also works against powdery mildew on squash family plants.

1 gallon water
dish washing soap
1 or 2 capsful of chlorox or other bleach.

Ricardo says that it works on white flies by coating their wings so they can't fly--and then the chlorox gets them as well. However it works, I can attest to the fact that I beat off a terrible infestation of white flies with it. And it looks as if the chlorox is working against the powdery mildew, which is a fungus, but I'm not yet certain.

For aphids (and ants), I use Arrivo, which is, as I understand it, a pyrethrin derivative, and therefore low toxicity.

I love the idea of garlic-flavored lettuce. I know that a water extract of crushed garlic is used against some sort of pest, but can't remember which one. However, that's easily researched.

Thanks for reminding me! I had completely forgotten about garlic.