Why does my Aloe Arborescens have black leaves?

Is there a cure?

About a year ago I noticed my Aloe Arborescens were covered in dappled black marks, and after a few months the leaves turned black, shriveled and died.

 Aloe Arborescen - black marks on leaves

Aloe Arborescens – black marks on leaves

There is an old adage: Don’t put off till tomorrow what you should do today.

Unfortunately, I never acted immediately and when I did seek advice I was told it was a virus and there was basically nothing I could do to  cure it. I was then advised to remove all the affected leaves so only the new growth remained. I tried, but after spending many back-breaking hours pulling off the dead leaves I decided the plant was too far gone and we cut it back to ground level.

Apparently Aloe’s are rarely affected by pests although the root and dry rot can be a problem. I was about to give up on my mission to discover the cause of the black marks when someone suggested it could be a fungus due to humidity. Ah ha! After an extensive search of the web looking for clues I discovered:

Insects such as aphids and snout beetles sometimes attack aloes, and they occasionally fall prey to fungal diseases, such as rust, especially if they are growing close together. Spray the plants with a systemic insecticide to stop the sucking insects in their tracks.
Make sure that the poison runs into the growth points between the leaves as well. A fungicide with a copper base can help to control diseases such as rust, which are a nuisance in humid climates.

Credit: An article published on The Gardener

I am on a mission to find a fungicide with a copper base to save my one remaining Aloe Arborescen growing in another part of the garden. Can anyone recommend a product which I can buy here in Portugal or from the net?

Aloe Arborescen with black marks on leaves

Aloe Arborescen with black marks on leaves

All the plants pictured above have since been cut down to ground level in the hope they will regrow and I will get a second chance.

Fingers crossed!

Does anyone have any other suggestions or advice, please?

Other useful websites:
TipsPlants.com
PlantsAfrica.com

Narrow: Locks, Dams And The Douro River, Portugal

The theme for this week’s photo challenge is narrow. When I was reviewing my photographs for this challenge I was reminded of a weeks cruise with Croisi Europe along the Douro river in Portugal. The river cruise was a seven-day leisurely return trip from Porto, in northern Portugal, to Vega de Terron on the Spanish border. We navigated several locks which was a first for me. I thought they were AMAZING!

Narrow entrance to a lock

Narrow entrance to a lock

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Approaching the lock

Approaching the lock

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A long way up

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It's a long way up!

It’s a long way up!

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Finally at the next level

Finally at the next level

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Crestuma-Lever Dam, Douro River, Portugal

Crestuma-Lever Dam, Douro River, Portugal

Useful websites:

Eco Tours Portugal

Croisi Europe River Cruises

One final picture to tempt you to visit the Douro!

View of Douro River in Portugal

View of Douro River in Portugal

All Aboard The Aperitivo Train!

On my last visit to France I discovered an unusual way to serve my favourite dips hummus, Tzatziki and guacamole.

All aboard the Aperitivo Train - a great way to serve dips!

All aboard the Aperitif Train – a great way to serve dips!

The idea was SO simple yet effective I’m surprised I did not think of it myself! As you can see from the photographs the peppers form the train carriages which hold the vegetable sticks, and dishes are used for the dips.

Train

– Food glue or cocktail sticks to attach the cucumber wheels to the peppers.
– Aluminum foil to cover serving tray.
– An assortment of coloured peppers (red, yellow, orange and green) which form the train carriages.
– 1 cucumber cut into slices for the wheels

1. Cover a flat serving tray with aluminum foil
2. Carefully remove one side of the pepper and remove seeds. Wash inside of peppers and dry.
3. Attach cucumber wheels with food glue or cocktail sticks (cut to size)
4. Arrange peppers in a circle or S shape on covered serving tray.
5. Spoon dips into dishes and add to the centre of the tray.

Vegetable sticks

Cut vegetables, such as carrots and celery, into sticks and arrange in the ‘pepper’ train carriages

Voilà!

Bon Appétit…

Now I just need to invite some friends to marvel at my creative genius… yeah, right. Trots off the find some ‘dip’ recipes and then some friends.

All aboard the 'Aperitif Train'

All aboard the ‘Aperitif Train’

Gazanias – Unusual Daisies With Exquisite Detail

I love the way the droplets of water linger on the petals and leaves like tiny bubbles. These are small details we often fail to notice yet when captured in a photograph remind us of the simplicity of nature.

Gazania

Gazania

Other details include the unusual combinations of colours.

Gazania (pink and cream striped petals)

Gazania (pink and cream striped petals) Photo taken in Spring

And bees gathering pollen.

Gazania with yellow and orange flowers

Gazania with yellow and orange flowers (photo taken in Spring)

While I find Gazanais relatively easy to grow, I disagree with the experts comment that they are drought resistant. If I don’t water my plants regularly they resemble a bed of birds nests.

Are Gazanias drought resistant?

 

Gazanias are not drought resistant. (July 2016)

Gazanias are not drought resistant. (July 2016)

Useful websites for care of Gazanias
About Home
Gardening Knowhow

This post was inspired by the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge. This week’s theme is ‘Details’

Monster Tomatoes!

I don’t know the name or variety of these tomatoes but they sure are HUGE!!!  (I’ve since been informed they are ‘Rosa’ tomatoes). This year I bought several baby tomato plants from Silves monthly market which is held on the 3rd Monday of each month.

This is an excellent market for vegetable plants, fruit bushes and trees.

Giant Tomatoes

Giant Tomatoes

In my best pidgeon Portuguese I asked the plant seller for ‘Muito grande, tomates’. The lady nodded with a grunt and a smile then presented me with six plants. My purchase based purely on trust and a leap of faith were planted in my recently manured vegetable area. Yes, I splashed the cash and with the encouragement of a dear friend went to the local stables to buy some horse manure.

Monster Tomato!

Monster Tomato!

The first tomato of the crop weighed in at 1 lb 8oz

Although the tomatoes were a little misshapen and would win no EU awards for the ‘perfect tomato’ they tasted absolutely delicious.

 

The tomato weighed 1lb 8 oz!

The taste and texture of the flesh reminded me of beefsteak tomatoes we used to buy in the UK. There were hardly any pips and they were far less watery than normal tomatoes.

I will certainly be saving the seeds for next year’s crop!

These tomato plants the mother of the monster tomatoes!

These tomato plants are the mothers of the monster tomatoes!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Opposites: Remain or Leave?

The theme for this week’s WordPress challenge is ‘Opposites’. Contemplating the differences in opinion for Brexit: ‘Remain’ or ‘Leave’, how could I express the extremes behind the vote and the wisdom of the ‘Leave’ result in terms of a photograph?

In the end it will boil down to money. Some think the UK will be better off leaving the EU while others disagree. Some people will benefit financially while others won’t. There are always winners and losers so let’s just hope the UK ‘leavers’ with their ‘island’ mentality eat their words and count the money (or not).

So for my ‘Opposites’ contribution I present a photograph of money: coins and notes. Both of value yet represented by different properties.

Counting the cost of Brexit

Counting the cost of Brexit

What does recycling and growing strawberries have in common?

With a little creativity it’s amazing what containers you can use to grow strawberries.

I love Strawberries

I love Strawberries

Deep plastic crates prove excellent containers for growing strawberries, lettuce or rocket. Line the crates with black plastic and make holes in the base area to allow for drainage. Add stones, then good quality compost and voilá!

Because the containers are not that deep I do keep the soil moist and once the strawberry plants start to flower I usually water with a liquid feed about ever two weeks. So far so good and I have an abundance of sweet strawberries through the spring and summer months.

I usually buy the strawberry plants from local markets, or if I am being really ‘thrifty’ I repot the strawberry runners from mature plants.

Strawberries also grow well in crates

Strawberries also grow well in crates

Recently, a family of blackbirds discovered my stache of delicious strawberries and were eating them before I had my share. I don’t mind sharing, but they were just plain greedy!

I tried various tactics to deter the birds until I hit on the idea of using …

How to protect your strawberries from the birds

How to protect your strawberries from the birds

Yep you’ve guessed, upturned crates as covers. They not only provided a rigid protective guard they also filtered the strong summer sun which in turn helped with moisture retention.

Happy days!

Do you grow strawberries in unusual containers? Any success, hints or tips?

Image

Weekly Photo Challenge: Curve

The theme for this week’s WordPress photo challenge is curve. Initially I was drawn to architectural curves and the many photos I’d taken of archways and bridges. But how boring… so seeking inspiration I looked in the mirror and thought of ‘bodily ‘curve’s’ and the sculptures of Karl Heinz Stock displayed in the extensive grounds of Quintos Dos Vales wine estate near Lagoa in the Algarve.

Sculpture of Swinging Grace by Karl Heinz Stock

Sculpture of Swinging Grace by Karl Heinz Stock

Sculpture by Karl Heinz Stock

Sculpture by Karl Heinz Stock

Sculptures by Karl Heinz Stock

Sculptures by Karl Heinz Stock

How can bony be beautiful when you have curves like these?

Parasitic Plant?

About six months ago I noticed some strange sort of fungi, as I thought at the time, growing on the branches of the Melaleuca hedge, Olive tree and Bottle Brush bush. I took a sample to our local garden-cum-hardware shop where you can by everything from garden hoses, seeds, garden tools etc. to chemicals to treat various pests and diseases. The guy who served me just gave me a ‘Portuguese shrug’ and told me to feed the plants to encourage growth. I was also given the same advice by someone else.

Parasitic plant growing on olive tree branches

Parasitic plant growing on olive tree branches


I dutifully fed the plants with slow release blue granular fertilizer and thought nothing more about it until we noticed the Melaleuca was losing all its greenery and was completely bald in several places. Not good for a hedge that was supposed to offer privacy.

Mr. Piglet set to and started scraping off the sprouting fungi while I attempted to consult Mr. Google for an answer.I am no further forward as I write this post except I now know they are called a Parasitic Plant.

Parasitic plant growing on branches of olive tree

Parasitic plant growing on branches of olive tree

What I don’t know as yet if there is a product I can buy which will kill it without killing the host plant. Suggestions welcome!

Why am I here… ?

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is Eye Spy.

Sad Eyes

Sad Eyes

I see you,
do you really see me
behind the bars
of captivity… ?