What?! It’s Friday already? Not that I’m complaining! I have been up to my ears in work as I put together the Refueling Power Moms Giveaway (running October 6-10) and balance my other jobs and home as well.
Our garden is kinda doing more of the same right now. Producing, sprouting, getting ready for sunflower seed harvesting, etc. We did pick ALL of our grapes last weekend (about 70 pounds worth) and would have ended up with more if we’d harvested a week earlier — and hadn’t had to get the darn things off the roof of the barn. But we already had the peaches to deal with anyway, and thankfully had a few reinforcements here (Stefan’s parents) to at least keep Mackenzie occupied during Grapemania 2011. We also cut the grape vines WAY BACK in preparation for next year and plan on actually building a wire trellis of some sort for them to grow on next year.
The last few years, we’ve pretty much just let them grow wild up on the roof; partially because last year I was in no shape to get on the roof, and because we were a bit intimidated about getting up on the roof in general. Thankfully the guest house roof is rather level and not nearly as scary as the other really steep roofs on our farm. And I feel so good that we actually took care of cutting everything back already instead of just harvesting. I fear that if we’d let it go again, it wouldn’t have gotten done.
I ended up with a rather red back thanks to gardening in my swimsuit top (it was SO hot that day). But the sunburn has mostly gone away and the wine is fermenting, so life is good. I will share some tidbits and how to’s about the red wine making process (which is far more involved than making white wine) and if we play our cards right, we’ll be making a batch of Riesling this weekend too!
This week, I thought I’d share a bit about the organic fungicide I mixed up that actually made it possible for us to harvest any grapes at all. The last couple of years, they have gotten HORRIBLE mildew all over and the grapes eventually shriveled up before they were able to ripen. Despite the mold, they still tasted alright (it was a powdery sort that would wipe off) — but you don’t want to go to the trouble of trying to make wine with substandard grapes.
I actually posted some information about making your own organic fungicide about two years ago. But that particular formula was found lacking. I mixed it together that fall of 2009 because we were desperate to try to save our tomatoes from late blight — and the recipe needed things we already had at home. The original formula did help many of our other plants in the garden that year (especially watermelon, zucchini, eggplants and grapes) which had some powdery mildew on them, but the new and improved formula is so much better! My roses were actually able to open this year (they always get bad mildew issues) and the majority of the grapes had no mildew whatsoever. It was of course an interesting challenge to spray the grapes that were about 3 stores up in the air — but at least since this is organic and the ingredients are all safe, I didn’t have to worry too much about the rain I was creating.
Making your own organic fungicide is far easier than you might think and one of the reasons I like to make my own garden tonics is because I want to know just what I’m going to be eating later. Most organic treatments can be applied to plants right until the day of harvest without any harm to those eating the fruits or vegetables, even children. I know a lot of chemical products seem to be faster working and sometimes more effective than the organic variations, but if I can save myself a trip to the garden store while I keep my plants healthy AND have a little peace of mind, I’m going to go for it. Plus, organic fungicide is just plain cheap to make!
You will need to reapply this solution about once a week and especially after it rains. If you have a very aggressive fungus problem (like blight) you probably want to spray it daily. Try to spray plants in early morning when the sun is least intense to prevent leaf burn. You can also spray in the afternoon, but a lot of plants will actually be more encouraged to mildew since the spray may not dry by night fall. This homemade organic fungicide is also effective against anthrocnose, powdery mildew, early tomato blight, leaf blight and spots.
Homemade organic fungicide
- 1 -2 tablespoons neem oil
- 1 heaping tablespoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon dish soap
- 1 gallon water
- Pour ingredients into a large sprayer and shake well. Spray on affected plants (top and bottom of leaves). Continue to shake ingredients periodically to ensure it says well mixed.
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