So Out in the Park became Out in the (Car) Park, as part of a much bigger event, Cuba Dupa.
And our Bee-Loved stall was there, under one of these gazebos, thanks to my qi gong teacher, Fan, who contributed some – very popular – plants of her own. And to Tasha Haines, whose lovely eye and generous heart are always valuable to have around.
We also advertised qi gong and sold some women’s film-related things.
And Anna Keir’s quirky crafts.
It was fun. And good to talk with visitors, share the plants and the accompanying handouts.
Until a Wellington gust lifted the row of gazebos. Twice. The gazebos were dismantled and we went home early.
I was proud of my plants, from heritage seeds, in their biodegradable Fertil pots from France, in their organic compost and growing sturdily: alyssum, two kinds of basil, bergamot, borage, calendula, coriander, parsley. Many flowering or about to flower. All attractive to bees. All going to provide seeds that their owners can use next year.
Now it’s time to prepare the garden for winter. There are still bumble bees in the lavender. And the anise hyssop is flowering. But daylight saving ends soon.
A couple of times a day, most days, I’m out there in my kitchen garden with a rubber glove on one hand, to collect the stink bugs with my ungloved hand and squash them with my rubber gloved hand, or sometimes within a nearby leaf. I’m pretty certain the bugs are nezara viridula. I hate the squashing process. That little POP the bigger bugs make when I kill them. I long for a spray. Soapy water, someone suggested. In the past I’ve tried neem oil.
On the public zigzag, the tomato plants are bug-free. They’ve grown without water and I’ve wondered if this is because they’re surrounded by harakeke/flax. Are they also bug-free because of the flax?
Some tomato plants in my kitchen garden are also bug-free. I can tell because the fruit doesn’t have the bug-sucked characteristics, the soggy-sh, woddy-ish outer layers. Perhaps because bergamot grows nearby, or they’re in better quality soil. But in a central patch the stink bugs in their various forms of development suck the juice from the outer layers of the tomatoes.
The bugs reproduce vigorously – the shiny black babies congregate around the tomato stems – and stay in ones or two until they become the mature plain green bug, viewed (by me) as a pair only when mating.
All the bugs seem to like the calendula seed heads where they’re easy-ish to pick off. But they also sense my intent, I think. Often, even when I carefully position myself to throw no shadow, they leap off before my hand arrives. Except when they’re babies, they’re especially sneaky on the tomatoes, skitter away from nearest point, often over the top of the tomato and around the back. or round the side to the back. Sometimes, if they’re on a leaf, they swing underneath it. And by the time I’ve repositioned myself they’re GONE.
A friend suggests these bugs reproduce according to the moon’s cycle. But I’m not waiting around to observe that closely. The tomatoes ripen within that one cycle and my focus is on them right now. And on my longing to spray, to machine gun those nezara viridula OUT OF THE GARDEN.
I’m going to build up the soil where the afflicted plants grow and see if there are fewer stink bugs in a year’s time, because the plants are stronger. (Or because I’ve killed so many bugs.) I don’t have to sell my tomatoes – or my beans, which the stink bugs destroyed last year – but I now have much more sympathy for those who grow plants for a living and use sprays, including neonics. I know more about the tensions between loving bees and ensuring the best productivity of plants that don’t need bees to fruit. As well as my own ability to kill, to protect my food sources.
The garden’s fading. Dry. Few bees. But on the shady side of the public zigzag, a little group of sunflowers.
The bergamot and the thyme are growing well out there too, in a shady spot by the path. But not flowering yet.
Some hyssop is flowering at last. But it’s not healthy, in the kitchen garden or out on the zigzag. A small insect eats at its leaves I think and it may have needed more water. Can’t see myself gathering enough to make a drink for wintry coughs.
The plants in my pots are healthy though, waiting for their next date at the postponed fair, at the end of the month. One of them’s flown to Nelson.
I love it when the plants go somewhere else. They often do much better in their new homes. On the other side of town, a bergamot from an earlier seeding is looking gorgeous.
Bees & Bee-Loved Flowers. A Global View From New Zealand.