There’s A Fungus Among Us

There’s a fungus among us and I don’t mean mushrooms.

If you have attempted to grow any sort of vegetation for any amount of time, you have probably dealt with an unfriendly fungus.  While a great many varieties of fungus are essential to plant life and a great many others are neither good or bad, there are a  few bad varieties and they really cause problems.

Before moving to the island, the only real battle I had with fungus was black-spot on the roses and powdery mildew on my veggies.  But, one summer in a tropical setting and I have had a crash course in fungus!

As I will chat about later, watering the soil is very important.  One day, only one day, I got lazy and got out the hose and sprayed everything down instead of using the watering can.  JUST ONE DAY! And, I even did it in the morning. BUT, in 72 hours, my Belinda’s dream roses were covered in black spot.  Lesson Learned- water the soil NOT the plant.

Fungi live in the soil, on our skin, in our house, basically any and everywhere.  The problems arise when conditions are just right, and the fungi populations begin to multiply at breakneck speeds.  When this happens, the host of the fungi population will be destroyed- this means your vinca will wilt and turn to goop, or your zucchini will disappear under gray fuzz or your rose bush will turn brown and yellow before becoming naked stems. Or, all of the above if its are really bad day.

In the garden, this hyper-growth of fungi will lead to plant death or really fabulous compost.  The problem is when the garden beds are turned to compost piles because the fungus took over where it did not belong.

So, instead of focusing on how to kill the fungus, we should focus on how to prevent the colonies from getting out of hand.  The environment is what determines if the fungus will thrive or simply exist and not cause problems.  As gardeners, there are several things we can do to set out gardens up for the best possible outcomes.

  • Soil Health
  • Plant Selection
  • Effective Watering

Soil Health

Soil heath is essential for any aspect of plant life.  A plant cannot thrive without healthy soil.  Soil health will also determine the health of a plant’s immune system.  Very few of us have perfect soil and even if you do,  if you constantly take from the soil and never put back, you won’t have healthy soil for long.  By amending the soil, you can put back into the soil.

Essential amendments are organic compost, green sand, lava sand, and rock phosphate.  For a deeper look at fixing you soil, click here!

Plant Selection

Choosing the right plant for an area is essential to success as a gardener.  A plant that loves  the sun will not survive a shady spot and a shade loving plant will die in the full sun.  This seems like it shouldn’t need to be said, but I deal with folks everyday who just can’t accept the fact that a rose bush won’t bloom in a backyard that gets only 3 hours of sun per day.  Plants have DNA and we can’t simply rewire them just because we want it that way.

Also, if there is a disease resistant variety- choose that variety.  There are a lot of hybrids out there and some are bred to be resistant to fungal diseases.  If those are available to you, then choose that plant.

If a plant is in a poor location or in poor soil it will be stressed.  If a plant is stressed it will be compromised.  A compromised plant will not have an immune system that can fight off disease.

Effective Watering

More damage is done by overwatering than by underwatering.  Fungus thrives in warm, wet conditions.

If you are keeping the soil soaked you are laying out a welcome mat for fungus.

If you water at night, you are laying out a welcome mat for fungus.

If you are spraying your foliage instead of watering the soil, you are laying out a welcome mat for fungus.

Do you see a pattern?

Fungi LOVE moisture.

So, water in the early morning so that what water does get on the leaves and foliage can dry.  One inch of water once a week is sufficient water, except in times of high heat and drought, then water twice per week.  If at all possible, water the soil, not the foliage.

One thing that a human cannot control is the weather.  If you live in an area that is high humidity and warm, fungus is something with which you will battle.  Galveston Island is my home and this year has been crazy with the fungal shenanigans.

Organic controls of fungus are fairly limited, but what is available is effective.  Sulfur and copper are excellent fungicides but they can only be applied with the temperature is below 85′.  Bicarbonates can be used at anytime.  In an effort to be proactive, I spray a bicarbonate weekly, before signs and symptoms appear.  For an indepth look at fungicides, read this article.

Don’t let challenges keep you from gardening- educate yourself and keep planting.

May the odds be ever in your favor!

pink zinnia
Zinnias are an excellent choice for disease resistant summer color

 

Celebration Day! 27 Years Strong

tony holly state park 2 2018

Today is our Anniversary!  27 years ago I made the best decision of my life!

As I sit here and think about what had transpired over these years, I am in awe.

There is a phrase I like to use about Tony when people are talking about marriage and so forth-

“Just as the sun rises in the East and sets in the West, Tony Ross is a faithful man.”

It is the plain truth.  A few months ago, I was on my balcony watching the sunrise and reflecting on the past two years (this has been the most difficult season of life we have ever walked) and I said to God, “Just as the sun rises in the East and sets in the West, you are a faithful God.”  It struck me then, I see God better because of the way my husband loves me.  THIS is what marriage was meant to be.

Big romantic gestures, long strings of words expressing his undying love are not his style.  He speaks love by his day in and day out small acts of kindness, grace, and faithfulness to me.

There have been those that have said Tony was too laid back for them or too boring. But here’s the thing- when the proverbial sh@# hits the fan- I don’t have to wonder where he is or what he will do.  I know- he will be by my side, leading the way, and telling me that it will all be okay.  Life is “exciting” enough, I’ll take a Mr. Steady over Mr. Excitement any day.

There are not adequate words to express what he means to me, to describe what 27 years of being one means, but I don’t want this day to go by without telling you how GRATEFUL I am at being Mrs. Tony Ross for 27 years!

Flowers I Pass

When I moved to Galveston, I was determined to make the most of every spare minute and spend those spare minutes on the beach.  I have been successful this far.

From my home, the beach is just under a mile from my doorstep. So, if I have a morning that allows me a walk before work- I go.  If I have a lazy afternoon that allows for a walk- I go.  If I need a walk to clear my head- I go.

Not only am I rewarded with sand between my toes and at the roar of the sea in my ears, my eyes feast on so many beautiful blooms along the way.

Here are some from my last walk:

Morning Glory

Morning glories!  These wild little devils can give gardeners fits!  They come up volunteer and drop about a million seeds and strangle any civilized plant in the reach of their little tendrils.  BUT they are so beautiful!  I love them!

pink crinium

crinium

Crinum Lilies come in ALL shapes and sizes in Galveston, they are a living part of history in the town.  With different blooming times, there are always beauties to admire.

Pride of Barbados Blooms

pride of Barbados

Pride of Barbados, also called the Mexican Bird of Paradise.  This large shrub/ornamental tree is a tropical beauty.  I had never seen these before and I thought they were Mimosa trees before the blooms appeared.  These pictures don’t really do them justice, I will have to try again!

Summer Stroll

Everyone thinks that living at the beach is just a perfect life.

Well, actually…

It is! Or at least it can be.

But in reality, a perfect life is where you are and what you make it.

I could be irritated, angry or depressed here in my historic neighborhood if I choose to.  Or I can be happy- just like I was on my farm.

Living at the beach does not make all of your worries go away.

But when your morning stroll ends in views like this-

Well, worries seem to wash away with the receding of the waves.

 

 

Introducing: Herb & Sea Home

Have you wondered where I have been?  Have you wondered what I have been up to?

Maybe, or maybe not.

You may have read my post on my facebook page, that we were relocating to Galveston, Texas or you might not have seen that, and lets be real- you might not have cared!

But just in case you do care- I thought I would share with you this brand new- sort of – blog and site.  It’s brand new because I have never lived by the sea before and it’s not new because I haven’t deleted any of my old blog posts.

So. Here. We. Go!

Officially, we moved to Galveston Texas in September of this year (2018).  So many of you were surprised and to be honest, so were we.  I have loved this island for many years and my second daughter moved here when she married her love three years ago.  Many hours were spent dreaming of what it would be like to live in a town steeped in history with a view of the waves whenever I wanted it.

Well, now I know and I LOVE it!

Even though I dreamed about it, I did not really think it would happen and certainly not at this time in our lives.  But, God had other plans and the doors opened up for us to make the move and we took the chance!

But what to do about Hollyberry Herb Farm?  Many of you have asked that very question and others have asked if we would be at the garden shows come spring and I have been hesitant to answer.  I hated to disappoint you and I hated the idea that the season of Hollyberry Herb Farm might be over.

However, after sitting and pondering the options ( most of this done while sitting with the waves lapping at my feet- don’t hate me) I had to accept the fact that this was a new season and I could not bring everything from the former season with me.

So, the answer to”what will we do with the farm?” was we will sell it.  And we did.

“Will you be at the garden conferences and shows?” the answer is “No, we will not”

But the answer to “will you still teach on herbs?” is YES!

And that is where this blog comes in!  I still love my herbs, use them every day, and want to share them with anyone and everyone who it interested. So, here is where I can share those things with you!

Also, I want to share my journey of learning to live in a coastal town with the sea just yards away from my front door and the harbour just yards away from my back door.  I can even hear the ships as they blow their horns when they enter the harbor.  Gardening is different down here and I am looking forward to learning about a new climate and weather conditions- I hope you will enjoy the journey with me!

Online classes are in the works and more videos are on the way!

If you want to join me in this journey, then all you have to do is follow this blog!  Just enter your email in the field at the side, you will receive an email whenever a new blog post arrives.  You can also like our Facebook page, also a field at the side of the page.

By commenting at the bottom of the blog posts, you can interact with me.  As a matter of fact, you can comment below and tell me something you would like to know about the world of herbs!