Thursday, October 10, 2013

Losses and Gains

It has been quite a while since I have flat out lost a plant to a pest but it appears that the drumstick tree or murungai sapling (Moringa oleifera) that I have been tending for the past year has succumbed rather rapidly to the predations of spider mites. The speed at which this has happened is astonishing; until about a week ago the spindly little plant was doing better than it ever had, rapidly putting out ever bigger new leaves. Then the mites appeared, and within days all the leaves turned a sickly yellow and dropped. Luckily all the surrounded plants seem to be unaffected so far - fingers crossed that it will stay that way. I will give murungai another try once I get a hold of another batch of seeds.

Drumstick tree sapling in its spider mite-induced death throes

Meanwhile, a new generation of basil plants is growing on my bedroom window sill, including both bush basil (Ocimum basilicum var. minimum) and holy basil or tulsi (Ocimum tenuiflorum), the latter protected against cold and drafts - and maybe spider mites - by a little miniature cloche made out of an inverted vase.

Bush basil babies (Ocimum basilicum var. minimum)

 Tulsi (Ocimum tenuiflorum) under cover

I continue to be surprised that the fine-leaved bush basil is not more popular outside of southern Europe - I can say from personal observation that it is quite common in Portugal, Spain, and Turkey, and the seeds I use are imported from Italy, so clearly it is grown there as well - despite its great fragrance and basil taste and the fact that it is naturally bushy and wonderfully adapted to windowsill culture. The much more common 'Genovese' cultivars are downright prissy by comparison, and not nearly as ornamental.

6 comments:

  1. Red spider mite can be a huge nuisance on indoor plants, and not always easy to control either.

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    1. They are awful! Luckily they only seem to haunt very specific plants, and so far I have rarely had to contend with them!

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  2. Replies
    1. Thanks! I was looking for just anything that I could use to shelter the little seedlings other than mere kitchen foil, and then I found that little vase in my cupboard.

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  3. In my garden, the drumstick tree is attacked by hairy catterpillars every year...ugh!

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    1. Oh no! I guess they are as popular with pests as with people... :(

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