Thursday, 22 January 2009

Fledgling Herb Garden: aaaaargh!

Okay, so, barely two weeks ago my fledgling herb garden looked like this:

Fledgling herb garden

And now it looks like this:

Fledgling Herb Garden

Readers, I beseech you in the name of all that is good and pure in this world: WHAT IS WRONG WITH MY MINT??

Fledgling Herb Garden

I have NO idea about this gardening malarky. Is it a disease? Is it a swarm of invisible aphids or locusts? Is it a Very Hungry Caterpillar??

Fledgling Herb Garden

I took some photos after dark with the flash, in the hopes that the identity of the culprit may be clearer. If you feel so inclined, please click on any of the photos and then click on "All Sizes" to zoom in.

Fledgling Herb GardenFledgling Herb Garden

Whatever the evil bastard is, it has also had a go at molesting my basil. Not even my docile innocent little sage was spared!

Fledgling Herb GardenFledgling Herb Garden

I currently put nothing on the herbs except water... do I need some sort of pesticide??? PLEASE HELP!

(On the plus side, the parsley and chilli plant seem to have been spared, as has the Vietnamese mint which is getting taller and taller each day.)

Fledgling Herb Garden

13 comments:

Zoe said...

Second rule of organic gardening is "wait for predators" (First rule is "soil first"). Have a really close look and see if you can spot a critter - it may be tiny.

Rather than put poison on a food you want to consume, get a sponge and some warm soapy water and gently sponge it all. It wont kill the pests, but will slow them down so you or the predators can get them. Good luck!

Zoe said...

Oh, and check this - http://forums.gardenweb.com/forums/load/sqfoot/msg060042341010.html

(And glad to hear you're well again and had such a lovely birthday dinner!)

stickyfingers said...

You look like you have caterpillers feasting on your succulent plants. Usually they are exactly the same colour as the leaf and feast on the underside so they can avoid the attention of the birds.

To deter predators you often need to go up the food chain, except in this case the birds - along with the possums - will take any fruit you might be growing.

Mint is bullet proof, once savaged, it will return, unlike the basil and my oregano which disappeared while we were on holiday.

For bugs, I use a spray made from the grey water left from washing my pots and pans - which has washing up liquid and oil in it. You can also make up a spray using one part detergent, a splash of oil and 10 parts of water.

I also lay coffee grounds on the soil to deter some wriggly creatures and crushed eggshells prevent snails from savaging my precious plants too. Good luck!

siskelkk said...

Definitely looks like those awful green catepillars, we tend to throw them off the balcony onto Peel Street when we find them!

organic sprays of various kinds work well, loads of recipes on the net and garden blogs, and spending time literally searching the plants for them can help (like Zoe suggests). Also occasionally water some seaweed solution (Seasol is good) into the soil. It helps to strengthen the roots and my aunt insists it increases bug protection.

And it is true as stickyfingers says - nothing can kill mint - except rust, and me, but that is neither rust nor me attacking your poor plant.

All the best and be glad it isn't spider mites - they're even harder to get rid of!

gen said...

Welcome to the sometimes heartbreaking world of gardening, but remember, only those who experience true despair will know the feeling of pure joy. When you beat these nasties you also will befriend pure joy.

Great advice from those above, you will be in minty abundance in no time! (I especially like the grey water spray deterrent)

I'm sure A can help with those coffee grounds....

Johanna said...

I don't have answers but just thought I would say I don't understand my herb garden either and most of it has survived - I have been amazed at how resilient the mint is - when I take it off the stalk it grows back so maybe you could cut off the damaged leaves - my mum 's solution is to take a leaf to the nursery and ask them for advice.

jacqueline said...

a good way to deal with nasties attacking your leafy babies is to plant marigolds in between (it's called companion planting - here's a list from helpful wiki, scroll down for kudos to marigolds! - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_companion_plants) and the other thing that i always do is to put sawdust and/or crushed eggshells around the border because slugs don't like the feeling on their bellies. once the marigolds and sawdust have done their things it's pretty easy to work out specifically what's going wrong (if there is even anything else)

neil said...

Possums stripped our San Marzano tomato after some very careful tending. Everyone's gotta eat sadly.

Messalina said...

Arghghg. This has happened to my herb garden as well. I've been picking the little green caterpillars off. Another good idea is to leave a little container of honey or beer at the base of the soil if you don't mind the fact that the caterpillars will drown in there! My friend recommended an organic pest control as well. You can get organic sprays at most gardening suppliers. Also, a thing I've found that has worked incredibly well this year is planting my basil next to my tomatoes. Apparently this co-planting helps ward of pests. Good luck Claire!

Jeremy said...

I've found you have to pretty vigilant with caterpillars and mint. I tap the mint with my hand (hard but not so hard as to knock the leaves off) and see whether any caterpillars fall to the earth. If they do, you should obviously do away with them. I pick off leaves that have been eaten, so that I can tell whether there are currently any caterpillars around. It seems that multiple caterpillars will be laid at the same time in a mint plant. If you look closely, you might be able to find them hidden on the underside of leaves before they've hatched. As I said - you need to be vigilant. I tap the leaves every few days to keep on top of them.

claire said...

Thank you so so so so much everyone for your wonderful gardening tips! I've taken lots of your advice to heart, and have been having all sorts of adventures in the fledgling herb garden (you were right about the dizzying highs and crushing lows of gardening, Gen!). I haven't written up my progress on the blog yet (don't want to saturate the blog in FHG coverage!), but will do so soon... there will be caterpillars. And tapping of leaves. And denuding of leaves. And marigolds. And sprays. And praying mantises! xx

Maralyn45 said...

Oh...your plant is so badly hurt..I think you should put some pesticides over it so that you can protect yoyr plants from being getting destroyed.These green caerpillars have eaten your plant.

Chele said...

I have the exact same problem with my beloved mint plant which was doing so well after a very harsh winter when I thought it had died completely. A google search for how to fix the problem has led me to your blog ;0)
The little buggers seem to like my strawberry plant too so everything on the balcony is now covered in grey water and fingers crossed it does the trick ;0)