zondag 21 mei 2017

Ants in the horta.

In our post 'An horta in the Alentejo - Part 2' we also wrote about the nuisance that was caused by ants. They invaded our horta to find things to lick, scratch and gather. It seemed they wanted to build several nests in the raised beds, for we found holes in the ground where they walked in and out. Most of the beans did not come up and the beans that came up showed great damage. Around, just sprouted beans, holes emerged, which indicates that the ants had been at work there frequently. What to do??

May 2017. Onions and carrots in one bed have fun.
We often plant onions between the carrots. Because, "What goes well together on your plate, goes well together in your garden," we once learned.
We found out that there were hardly any ants in this bed. This could not be because the ants would avoid the carrots... for ants find carrots irresistible... so it had to be the onions that the ants did not like.
Well, you could plant onions all over the garden, but this no longer seems a reasonable garden plan. So we gave it a try with the waste of the onions from the kitchen. We laid this between the plants and waited. And ... yes! The ants walked by without further action.

Beginning of May 2017. Our raised bed next to the house... The result of the interference by ants, the sowing of peas, the sowing of green beans,  the re-sowing of green beans and the planting of carrots. And as last hope... some onion waste between this all.
Half May 2017. The same bed next to our house. Of course it is far too full... but the plants are quite well again and the ants are no longer active.
May 2017. And so we also put onion waste between the beans in the other beds. Here a bed with two types of beans. Where the first failed we sowed the other species.

The weakest.

But things went a little bit different with the eggplants. Nature applies a tough selection to the weakest and the 'ant-scum' is strong.

The eggplant at the left on the picture must taste the defeat. It is attacked by the ants and is also immediately overrun with aphids. The rest of the eggplants, and also the other plants in the area, have no problems at all. Time for pepper spray...

The eggplant with aphids and ants.
(See for pepper spray: 'An horta in the Alentejo - Part 2')

Our vegetable garden in May 2017.

Meanwhile, we have made the garden a little wider. This sounds simple, but here on this rocky land it is a lot of chore, which mainly means chopping and dragging with stones. We did not take pictures of the work. We were so busy that we forgot! Well, now we have some pictures of the result... and this is much nicer :)

Also anti-root cloth outside the garden, to keep the weed growth at a distance. And a fence that is hopefully cat-proof. Initially, this path was very narrow (see the width of the staircase), making the raised bed laying almost on the edge of the garden. We saw that the grasshoppers made use of this immediately, hopping from the weeds into the garden, back and forth. We had almost no problems with the grasshoppers in the beds that lay further from the edge of the garden. We hope this larger distance from the fence will work out better. The future will learn.
A small height in the corner of the garden where are only rocks below, bordered by a low wall. Nice for a barrel with melon plants.
A wide path where we can put some barrels with melon plants, besides a higher wall, giving some shelter and the opportunity to place a shade cloth.
A widened path for barrils with melon plants along the fence (with shadow cloth). The raised wall (left) also provides a nice storage for the frames that we use in the summer to cover the beds against the hot sun.

Enough lettuce and cabbage:

The beetroots we let blossom ... see if we can harvest some seeds:

The carrots are now well on there way and are very nice. The onion waste between them has now been digested. These 'Rodelika's' are of biological 'Demeter' seed; Grown on Portuguese soil. Origin: Living Seeds Cementes Vivas SA. Website: www.ls-sv.eu

Here a first harvest in June 2017.
Ants love carrots. They bring aphids to them, which then sit on the root at the attachment of the leaf. In addition, the ants make spaces around the root in the ground, allowing the aphids to get to the root posts. Sometimes there were aphids on the root in the ground, and especially on the top of the root, where the leaf begins. And yet we could harvest the carrots like this.


And all this on 'Stone Dust' with some Grass Compost !!
More difficult we will not make it :)

An after post...

Our garden in June 2017:

Well ... optimism? Yes, all plants are growing wonderful. But the combination of ants and aphids we seem not to be able to defeat. No pepper spray, no garlic-onion-spray may benefit. Meanwhile, the combination has taken possession of the four eggplants that are closest to each other. It is unbelievable what is happening there...

But... look now... if a plant is taken over by aphids like this... how can the leaves not discolor or why does the plant not die? Those plants must be very strong, wow though !!

Now we do not want to do anything to expel the ants anymore. We do not think the ants can be combated without spraying poison. And they are only busy with these four eggplant. They do not like the tomato plants that are right next to them... or the aphids do not like them... Who will tell?

Further down the garden we have another pair of eggplants. These are not attacked by ants, and are now up to making beautiful fruits:

Against the summer heat and especially against the rapid evaporation of the water in the top layer of the soil, we have laid cane ships below the plants. This helps keep the soil moist.



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