Tuesday, 1 March 2011

I've got Big Bud Mite.

Well, not me personally, obviously - that'd be daft! As far as I can tell I am not now, nor have ever been a blackcurrant bush ..........I've been called a bit of a nut and a complete fruitcake on more than one occasion, but never a blackcurrant bush!
Anyway, having cleared that up, I have to sadly report that all my blackcurrant bushes do indeed have Big Bud Mite. How do I know this? Thanks to the sharp eyed vigilance of Carah, aka Her On The Hill, at http://viewfromthehighpeak.blogspot.com/

She spotted the telltale round buds in a photo in my previous post and, bless her heart, took the time to write to me explaning it all and to give me a link to the appropriate site to check it out :- http://www.dgsgardening.btinternet.co.uk/bigbud.htm

Having BBM explains why for the past two or three years, my blackcurrant bushes have started off well, then many buds have just shrivelled up and died! I had no idea that the buds shouldn't be round and she has NO idea how grateful I am to her for spotting the problem and telling me about it! Thank you so much :)

Carah writes an excellent, amusing, newsy and informative blog that's well worth a visit if you've never been over there. She's also doing a 2 year City & Guilds course in Practical gardening, hence her knowledge of BBM. This does make me feel that I really ought to do some sort of 'proper' course instead of just making it up as I go along, like I do now!

This is what healthy blackcurrant buds should look like - nice rugby ball shaped buds. I struggled to find these few on my bushes.

This is what Big But Mite affected blackcurrant buds look like. Bigger, rounder, more like a beach ball . No problem finding a plethora of these to photograph! :(

Of course, having now read all about BBM, I know that I have to dig up all 8 - yes 8, of my beloved blackcurrant bushes and burn them to stop the mites spreading. I then have to get new bushes and put them in a different part of the garden. This will, of course, necessitate moving our large fruit cage .......however , I have a cunning plan!

There's a very nice patch of newly cleared ground where the conifers used to be - up behind the greenhouse at the opposite side of the garden - still sunny, still protected from the winds (in fact, better protected from the westerlies we get here!) and if I move the fruit cage, the redcurrant bushes, the gooseberry bushes and the 2 blackberry bushes that I planted the day before Carah spotted the BBM, then that leaves a large empty space topside of the tea house and japanese garden...Hmmmm!
Now what could I possibly do with a 20ftish x16ftish space so close to my tea house eh?! :D

Whilst you're pondering on that one, just to prove that spring is happening - albeit more slowly than usual, here are some snowdrops and a couple of crocus.

The flowering cherry by the vegetable garden is just coming into blossom.

and a few more snowdrops, because I love them and it's my blog so I can put as many snowdrop photos in as I want! :)

And just for The Gnome up in Glasgow on Down On The Allotment here are the home-made anti-squirrel devices I was telling you about! One or two one litre pop bottles with the bottoms cut off and some 'trician's tape on the pole to stop the bottles sliding down - job's a good 'un!

Have a good weekend.


Rob (ourfrenchgarden) said...

Woah! Drastic action to take, I'm sorry to hear about the blackcurrants. There's definitely no other way?

Spring's arriving here this week. Temps around 15 or 16 but down to minus 2 most nights.

That new area by the teahouse, who knows, small tea plantation perhaps, funny aren't I? I'm off, it's Friday and it's wine o' clock, Bon weekend!

Ali said...

Oh I don't think I could get any sadder for you - are you sure you have to dig up all your lovely blackcurrants? Is there no other way???

Pondside said...

This is something about which I'd never heard - sounds awful!
Other than the terrible mite and the work that it will cause, things look lovely and spring-like around your place. I imagine you're looking forward to time in the tea house.

Liz said...

Hi Liz,

Sorry for only just replying to this... My blog inbox thingy only just told me you've posted! The cheek of it all, honestly.

Sorry to hear you have a nasty mite thingy, I'll have to check mine, although I'm pretty certain when I last looked they were the normal shape...

I love your Squirrel proofing, you could patent that idea! ha ha. Poor Squirrels, all hungry and abandoned ;)

Nutty Gnome said...

Hi Rob.Nope - diggin' 'em up and burning them is the only way to deal with them according to all the info! :(

Shifting the fruit cage all all the other fruit bushes will be a bit of a pain, but well worth it in the end. I was never too chuffed at the abrupt way the tea house garden had to end there - at least now it can extend and I'll have the borrowed benefits of the trees behind it too :D

That looks like good wine you were supping! :P Cheers

joey said...

So sorry, dear Liz :( Don't you make a nippy vodka with the blackcurrants, so hoping to sip beside you when the tea house is finished! On a happy note, you see spring life ... your snowdrops and flowering cherry ... and I see green grass, tulips, and crocus. My beds are still covered in a blanket of snow and, as I write, more is falling. Spring ((hugs)) from across the sea :)

Gordon Mason said...

I love a cunning plan!!

Nutty Gnome said...

Hi Ali - yep, not been the best ever start to the year, but good will come of it all!
The blackcurrants definitely have to come out and be burned because the mite infestation has got too bad. If I'd known about it a couple of years ago or if the infestation is only mild - with only a few buds affected, then you can just pick off and burn the affected buds, but every branch on every bush is affected to some extent - so burn they will!

Hi Liz - glad you like the squirrel proofing! It really does work - they soon get fed up of being inside a bottle....but they look very funny when they're in there trying to work out what's gone wrong! :)

Nutty Gnome said...

Hi Pondside. Yes, there's a fair amount of work to get rid of the blackcurrants and move the fruit cage - and the other soft fruit, but it'll be good when it's done. I do quite like the idea of not having the fruit cage immediately behind the tea house .....and all that space to spread the Japanese garden in to !!! :D

Nutty Gnome said...

Hi Joey. Yes I did do the vodka! Don't worry though because I've bought two new plants to get fruit this year so that i can have you blackcurrant vodka sitting waiting up on the tea house veranda for when you arrive! :)

I hope your snow melts soon and you get your spring!

((hugs)) from here.

Ey up Woody - so do I! :)

Casa Mariposa said...

I had to rip out all of our azaleas when they became infested with mites. But I ended up replacing them with something prettier and more bug resistant. When you look back, you'll be glad you made the change, hopefully.

Shady Gardener said...

When something happens to give you pause, isn't it nice that someone else has the info AND YOU have a solution? Your very helpful husband and family will certainly pitch in.

Absolutely! You can post as many snowdrop photos as you wish - I don't see many of them.

How's the tea house coming? And what's the status of your garden shed/potting house?

Nutty Gnome said...

Hi Casa Mariposa.I'm feeling jolly positive about the change, despite it being quite hard work - it took me all day yesterday to dig up the 8 bushes and prep them for burning. I've still got 4 gooseberry bushes, 1 redcurrant bush, 2 blackberry bushes and 2 rhubarb thingies to shift, then the fruit cage to relocate to the other side of the garden BUT once I've done all that, I can extend my Japanese garden.....! :D

Nutty Gnome said...

Hi Shady.I had NO idea my bushes had got BBM, so it was a chunk of work I wasn't expecting to do! I have dug up all the bushes now - and have the bruises from the ones that fought back! Himself will help me move the fruit cage but, as he works very long hours, the rest is down to me!

There'll be a post on the next stage of the tea house soon :)
We've not done any work in there for a while because the fire knocked the power out, but there's stuff done that I've not posted about yet anyway....!

The potting shed is cleared and cleaned. We've had builders etc from the insurance company round and we've asked to have the 2 internal walls taken down (not a necessity from the fire, so not covered by the insurance). The price for that has been agreed and will be done when the builders are soring out everything else. The upshot is that within a month or so, we'll have a better, cleaner, more useable space AND lots of brand new gardening goodies, so it will have been worth all the hassle and stress! :)

Janet/Plantaliscious said...

Eugh, I'm off to check my currants, hoping for rugby balls. Plan sounds good though, and all that new space to play with.

Nutty Gnome said...

Hi Plantaliscious - may all your buds be rugby ball shaped!!!

My head is buzzing with ideas for that new space.......:)

Kathryn said...

Oh, boo hoo hoo. SOOOO sorry to hear about the inconvenience of having to do all that work. UGH. I sometimes ponder all the things I regard as Invaders. I realize they are just trying to survive, just like I am, but, hard to imagine when their presence means I'm going to have to really get to work. Hope it goes quickly and easily and that you have lots of help and how lucky to have the perfect spot for the next batch! Hugs across the pond! xoxo

Andrea said...

Hi i somehow missed coming over here again more often. I love how you write, full of humor and fun. I love it when you said you can post more snowdrops, anyway it's your blogsite!!! hahaha. I dont know about blackcurrants we dont have them here in the tropics, but i can say you will be doing a lot of work there, digging, hauling, burning, replanting. Oh terrible. God bless and have fun.

Pat said...

Glad to hear you solved the problem.
Nice to see parts of your yard,you've got flowers !
Is the tea house done yet? You know we're all waiting.

Nutty Gnome said...

Hi Kathryn.The BBM is a bit of pain - especially as I might not get any blackcurrants this year! :(
HOWEVER, it's quite exciting thinking about and planning what to do with that space once I shift the fruit cage....there are many unexpected pleasures to be had in life even when things appear to go 'wrong'!

Hi Andrea and thank you for your lovely compliments. I write very much as I speak, so it's great to know that people enjoy it!
No Blackcurrants??? Oh you poor thing - missing out on the delicious joy of the pop of sweetness as they burst in your mouth.....:)
Mind you , you must have some scrummy things in the tropics that we don't have here?
Back to work outside today once the heavy frost has cleared. More digging and more moving compost....!

Hi Patsi. Lots of flowers are popping up all over the place now, it's great!
The tea house is on its way....as is another post on its progress! :)

Tatyana@MySecretGarden said...

How interesting! Very few people around here have blackcurrants. I do have several, but they stopped producing good berries several years ago. The berries are small and wrinkled. I'll watch how the buds look this spring and might want to do some replacements. Thank you!!!

Nutty Gnome said...

Hi Tatyana. For the last 2 or 3 years our blackcurrant crop was poor and the berries were small and a bit wrinkled, so it would certainly be worth you checking your bushes!
I had no idea what shape the buds should be or I could have picked off the dodgy buds when there were only a few of them rather than waiting until the whole 8 bushes were affected :(

Thomas said...

It seems like yesterday you were covered in snow. I wish our winters disappeared so quickly!

Nutty Gnome said...

Hi Thomas. I had been wishing for more snow but now that spring has shown its face I'm ready to move into spring mode!
Although we had a couple of beautiful days on Sunday and Monday, it's been very grey and foggy ever since....I want some sun now!
You had WAY more snow than us so it's bound to take longer to go - but your spring will come and then you'll be despairing that you've not got enough time to get everything sorted in the garden!!! :)

Unknown said...

Good blog my friend!

Paula said...

Hello - I really like your blog - in Australia, we have a similar pest that attacks lemon trees. We used to be told to cut off all affected growth - pretty much cutting the tree back to a stump for most people - but now they say to slice into the knobs before the mites hatch and fly out. This leaves the tree unaffected by the damage they could do... For the first time in 5 years, I have a tree full of fruit and no evidence of nasty bugs. Is there any chance you could try something like that to save your plants?

Monica the Garden Faerie said...

Wow, I've never heard of BBM, and it does sound quite drastic if one has to dig out and burn all blackcurrants!! Ah, the joys of gardening!!

Nutty Gnome said...

Thank you Steve, I'm glad you like it! Please feel free to pop in whenever you want :)