Saturday, June 6, 2009

A Saturday without rain!

Today is beautiful.
First day in a while with no rain.
It is a little sticky out but I'll take it!
A few photos to update you..

I was admiring my Hosta...ready to bloom and I noticed we have aphids!
Gotta take care of that!
The Goldfish in my Pond are very happy...My Pond Lily will bloom soon...

My husband made another box for our garden.
The strawberries that survived last years deer attack need a place to live!

A little wild columbine blooming in my yard...I just love them!

Mama-Eastern Phoebe Flycatcher was not happy with me today-
she has a nest above my mothers gutter and I wanted to photograph her
baby. She dove after me and tried to nail me in the head.
What a good Mommy she is.
I managed to get a poor shot of her baby! Better than nothing!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Lady Bugs and other beneficial insects

Consider putting these beneficial insects to work for you, in your garden.You will be surprised at the results!

Utilizing beneficial insects as a biological control to destructive insects is not by any means a new concept. Gardeners have long known of the effectiveness of Ladybird beetles to eliminate aphids. There are many more 'good bugs' out there, they just haven't received the notoriety of Lady bugs, because they may not be quite as cute, or maybe the name of a Trichogramma wasp may not sound as sweet. Nonetheless, these beneficial insects will help to keep your garden free of harmful pests. and hopefully reduce or eliminate the need for much of the use of insecticides in the home garden.
Invite beneficial insects to your garden by growing plants and flowers which provide food and a home for them. You an also purchase many good bugs at most larger nurseries and garden centers, but you will still want to provide them with suitable plants. Don't over populate your garden with beneficial insects though, because if there isn't enough prey for them, they will simply leave your garden in search of food elsewhere. Monitor your plants, and if you find that the beneficials are outnumbered, you may need to add reinforcements.
Many of the insects which you will utilize don't actually do any control work themselves. They spend their lives enjoying the nectar and pollen from your flowers, and creating offspring. It is the larvae stage of these offspring which does the actual hunting and eating of the harmful insects.
Plants which attract and provide homes for beneficial insects include
  • Alyssum
  • Butterfly weed
  • Caraway
  • Clover
  • Coriander
  • Dill
  • Fennel
  • Marigolds
  • Nasturtiums
  • Wild carrot
  • Yarrow

The list of beneficial insects is rather extensive. The most common and readily available insects are listed here, but this is by no means a complete list. Check for the availability of different types of beneficial insects in your area, and choose the one which suits your needs.

    • Cryptolaemus Beetles resembles the Ladybug but is darker in color. After the adults are released into the garden they will immediately seek out mealy bugs and consume them. The eggs are usually laid on an infested plant so that the larvae can feed on the mealys as well.

    • Green lacewings larvae (aphid lions) will eat spider mites, thrips, leafhoppers, whiteflies and caterpillar eggs. This insect is normally purchased in the egg stage, and allowed to hatch out in the proximity of an insect problem.The larvae will feed for only 2 or 3 weeks before becoming adults, at which time it may become necessary to introduce additional larvae to your garden rather than relying on the reproduction habits of your adults. Lacewings are most effective when a large number of the larvae are introduced into a limited area.

    • Ladybugs (Ladybird beetles) feed on aphids, chinch bugs, whiteflies, and mites, as well as many other soft-bodied insects and their eggs. There are more than a hundred ladybug or "lady beetle" species. These insects are normally purchased as adults and released into the garden. Each adult may consume as many as 5,000 aphids during their adult life. When mature, each female will begin to lay as many as 3-4 dozen eggs each day. Upon hatching, each ladybug larvae will begin consuming 50 aphids each of the 21 days until they reach the adult stage, when the cycle begins again. No matter how you add it up... that's a lot of aphids and undesirables removed from your plants.

    • Parasitic nematodes are microscopic worms whick seek out and then eat their way into the bodies and killing many soil dwelling pests including grubs, weevils and webworms. Soil conditions and the method of releasing the nematodes are critical, so be sure to read and follow the directions. Nematodes must be replaced each spring.

    • Praying mantis feed on a wide range of pests, including aphids, flies, and beetles. They are purchased as egg casings which are set in shrubs around the garden. Hatching takes about 2 weeks, after which the Mantis will begin to consume insects. Unfortunately they will also eat some beneficial insects (not ladybugs though) if sufficient pest bugs are not available. Praying mantis tend to be a curious and friendly bug, which may end up keeping you company as you work in the garden.

    • Predator mites are very useful in controlling spider mites and two spotted mites, both indoors and in the garden. They are purchased as adults which will eat 1-3 adult mites or up to 6 mite eggs each day.

    • Spined Soldier Bug (stink bugs) prey on many types of beetles, webworms, armyworms and other garden pests. They are normally purchased as a combination of nymphs and adults. Because they are generally only effective for a month or so, it is sometimes necessary to release additional predators if the adult population has diminished or if subsequent plantings are desired.

    • Trichogramma wasps are tiny wasps which prey on the eggs of more than 200 worm type pests, including borers, webworms, and many types of moth caterpillars. The wasps lay their eggs directly into the pest's eggs, killing the eggs as they hatch. As soon as the wasps mature, they will fly off in search of new eggs to parasitize. Different species of Trichogramma wasps are more effective against certain pests, so purchase eggs appropriate for the pests which have invaded your garden.
Once you have made the decision to utilize beneficial insects to help you with your pest control in your garden, keep in mind that insecticides are no longer an appropriate option. Pesticides will kill good bugs at the same time they are removing the pests.

all above information taken from The Garden Helper



The battles and the war

Although you may never win the war against snails and slugs entirely, you owe it to your plants to fight them with every weapon at your disposal. You can control slug populations with several different methods. With each battle which you win, you have prevented hundreds of new slugs from hatching.

The battlefield

As with any battle plan, it is to your advantage to be able to set the field. Set your field by cleaning your garden, and eliminating the places where the slugs hide, sleep, and reproduce.

  • Pulling the weeds from your garden is something you need to do anyway. As you pull each weed, you remove a potential slug outpost.

  • Keep all decaying matter cleaned out of your garden beds. While leaves make a good mulch, once they begin to compost they become food and shelter for slugs and snails.

  • Prune the branches of any shrubs which are laying on the ground. Keep the old leaves and such cleaned out. By doing this you will have destroyed yet another slug haven!

  • Cultivate your soil regularly to keep the dirt clods broken up, and unearth any slugs which may have burrowed under the surface.

  • The shaded areas beneath decks can be a slug arena: keep them weed and litter free.

  • Just about anything can become a slug home. Boards, rocks, pots and other gizmos should be kept out of the garden.

  • Keep the lawn edges trimmed. Slugs will congregate under the umbrella of unkept grass.

The weapons

For the sake of the environment, it is better to make an effort to control slugs and snails without using chemicals and poisons before you resort to chemical warfare.
Hand to hand combat

  • Keep slug pokers stuck around the garden at random. Meet your enemy, one on one... Your weapon is at hand, impale them!

  • Fill a small bowl with stale beer. Put it in the areas where the slugs are active. Stale beer attracts the slugs and they drown. You may also use grape juice or a tea made from yeast, honey and water.

  • An early morning stroll around the garden, salt shaker in hand will often result in many casualties for the bad guys.

  • Destroy any and ALL slug eggs you find!

  • Bait and destroy tactics work. Set a pile of slightly dampened dry dog food in an area frequented by slugs. In the morning and evening visit the feeding station a few times.... slug poker in hand!
Battle lines

  • Cedar bark or gravel chips spread around your plant will irritate and dehydrate slugs.

  • The sharp edges of crushed eggshells around the plants will cut and kill slugs. The calcium in the eggshells is a good soil amendment anyway!

  • Sprinkle a line of lime around your plants. (Obviously this won't work around plants requiring a more acidic soil)

  • Certain herbs (Rosemary, lemon balm,wormwood, mints, tansy, oak leaves, needles from conifers and seaweed will repel slugs. However using a mulch of these plants will only turn thhe slugs away, in search of other food sources.

  • Oat bran will kill slugs when they eat it... sprinkle some around.

  • Enlist allies..... snakes, ducks, geese, toads, would enjoy helping you out as they dine on your slugs.
above material taken from The Garden Helper

Thursdays Garden Update

I did my usual morning walk around the garden today. Yesterday it rained all day long so I was hoping for some new additions to the garden...I did find a few!

First stop was the Shasta Daisey's in the front yard and they are doing beautifully.
Mr. Daddy Longlegs was very happy there.

I passed by my husbands Raspberry bushes and they are bursting!

The Swiss Chard is popping up in all the squares that I planted it in.

As are the cukes..

And the Cow Peas...

I was very happy to see the zucchini peaking through the ground-
that rain sure helps things along!

The cute little Stella D'Oro lilies are in bud-
now to make sure the deer don't get them!

More Shasta Daisey's...

I added a few Trellises to the garden...
I wanted to grow Morning Glory...
Let's see what happens!

Enjoy your garden...
See you tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Garden Bloggers Death Day

I came across the greatest post today...
Kate from Gardening Without Skills has started a Monday event for gardeners called Gardening Bloggers Death Day. As she puts it " the day for gardeners who overwater, underwater, maim, prune or otherwise neglect their plants to a state of dismal droopage or untimely death".

Its perfect!
You have to rush over to her site and check out her entire post!

These are a few of today's horrid deaths in my yard. The garden is still new so there is plenty of time for disaster!

This first photo was the job of the deer- I didn't actually kill it- they sort of did- no blooms this year. They chopped off all the tops of my 5 gorgeous Lilys.

This is the lettuce that I managed to kill- really before it got a chance to really grow!

And this -well- its a sneak peak of what is to come in the near future!

Thanks Kate for such fun. I would have hidden these photos before now I feel safe sharing them!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

A Glorious Sunday

Beautiful Sunday morning and what a joy to find that my radishes have sprouted.
We are suppose to have an unexpected frost tonight so I better scramble to find some adequate cover for these tender plants or I'm in trouble!

Two Iris are blooming!
I'm so grateful the darn rain didn't knock them over.

Last little surprise I found while strolling around the yard- some grapes on the grape vine.
I pray we don't get hammered by beetles this year - last year was a disaster.
If anyone has a sure fire "organic" method to keep the beetles away please share it with me.
We tried the hormone strip one year and it attracted more beetles to our yard -so that is out!

I read the recipe for the ripe fruit and the yeast but F thinks it will work the same as the hormone strip and attract more to our yard...I just don't know.