Tag Archives: Pest Controllers & Pollinators

In between the gaps…a gallery

A glimpse into the menagerie of the community garden and general house yard through fall and winter 2013/2014.

Always like to show off what our browsers can do when they put their minds to it.  Push down that netting to get the delectable bean leaf tips! They've developed finesse so they don't get their teeth caught in the netting...

Always like to show off what our browsers can do when they put their minds to it. Push down that netting to get the delectable bean leaf tips! They’ve developed finesse so they don’t get their teeth caught in the netting…

Apologies to our beautiful praying Mantis, who is probably eyeing an insect or two under the netting.  What a beaut!

Apologies to our beautiful praying Mantis, who is probably eyeing an insect or two under the netting. What a beaut!

Tasty greens sprouting for fall crop.  Mature beets further right even overwintered well under the snow pack.

Tasty greens sprouting for fall crop. Mature beets further right even overwintered well under the snow pack.

The typical way we keep the squash, melon, and tomato harvest aired and dry during the mild, not-too-rainy days of fall....stored under my eaves.

The typical way we keep the squash, melon, and tomato harvest aired and dry during the mild, not-too-rainy days of fall….stored under my eaves.

A record-setting snow-then-freeze episode the very first weekend of December 2013, followed by a record-setting snowfall in early February 2014, made us very aware of how little we can predict anything anymore, or when our gardens are tested to the maximum adaptability, and how miraculously resilient plants can be.  The witnessing of when a healthy, mature plant “decides” it will not struggle to survive the next year, but yield to the new energies of the next generation of seedlings.

Where's the bench seat?!

Where’s the bench seat?!

How Deep? 020814

14″ AFTER the snow has packed down for 3 days…

The birds had to learn to eat snow on their feeder for a few days.  Thank goodness for seeds on the old flower stalks, although the snow buried a lot of those.

The birds had to learn to eat snow on their feeder for a few days. Thank goodness for seeds on the old flower stalks, although the snow buried a lot of those.

And spring brings the energy of renewal…

2014-Kiwi Arbor-a

Kwan Yin being sheltered by a bower of the Siberian kiwi vine.

 

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Fall Glory

It is amazing how one can stay so busy caring for a garden that is essentially moving towards a long nap.  Maybe it is my sense of  “clean management” that spurs me on to remove the decaying matter, though not so much in the house yard.  Actually for the CG it comes down to removing the dying, so that a blanket of leaves can be put down, to be turned over in spring, and to help insulate the remaining veggies.  Slugs will probably love it, as there are quite a few lurking in the lovely lettuce, but that’s just something we’ll have to deal with as necessary.

A lovely spurt of unseasonably warm weather delighted us gardeners a week ago, also prompting all the weeds to put forth new energy, and teasing a couple of strawberry plants into producing a few berries.  Of course, the bees were very happy with it, too.  Pineapple sages and Japanese anemones are still actively blooming, much delighting the hummingbirds.

Fall splendor; a little sun, a little fog....

This week heralds the onset of a few colder nights, between rainstorms, but no frost.  It won’t be as easy to see our pollinator friends and hummingbirds now, with shorter days, colder mornings, and barely light by the time I get home from work.

Still trying to ripen picked green tomatoes, but after last month’s rain, it’s not so easy, as many want to rot before turning any tint of orange.  Drying them down if they show any color is turning out to be a better option.

Our October bounty was exceptional, now that the tomatoes and squash were all pulled in:

  • Basil: 0.75
  • Cucumbers: 8.5
  • Kale: 1
  • Lettuce: 3
  • Melons (combined): 8.5
  • Acorn squash: 22.5
  • Delicata squash: 8.75
  • Spaghetti squash: 119
  • Swiss chard: 2.5
  • Summer squash: 10
  • Tomatoes: 44.5

Month’s total: 229 pounds (rounded)
Season total: 629 pounds

And this season’s total bests last year’s total at this same time by about 61 pounds, and it surpasses our final 2009 tally by 37 pounds!  Hooray for all the superb contributions from the plants, devas, pollinators, and human caretakers!

They really exist!

Thanks to one of our natural pest controllers, who decided to quit being so shy, we had beautiful bounty, even if the tomatoes are still slow, and the summer squash are slowing down!

An elusive friend mantis making a brief appearance

September bounty:

  • Basil: 6.5
  • Bush beans: 2.75
  • Cucumbers: 6
  • Grapes: 2
  • Charantai melons: 16
  • Margarita melons: 8.75
  • Delicata squash: 8.5
  • Spaghetti squash: 6.5
  • Spinach: 2
  • Swiss chard: 2.25
  • Summer squash: 26.75
  • Tomatoes: 41.25

Month’s total: 125 pounds (rounded)
Season total: 400 pounds

Spaghetti squash near harvest

Ladybugs…workers and slackers

There’s a reason there are a few hundred ladybugs in a bag when you purchase them.  They don’t like to stay in one area, even with a food source; some don’t survive; and some refuse to go to work, even if presented with a banquet.  I think a bunch of mine had other ideas in mind.  It’s always fun checking around to see where they might be hiding after being released last evening, scattered over some roses, lavender, Jerusalem sage, and particularly upon a honeysuckle smothered with aphids.  For some reason, this is the mother-lode plant for aphids this spring.  Perhaps it is offering to serve as the prime bait plant, so as to lure them away from other plants.

While one worker has more than enough aphids to contend with, another two have "other ideas"...

Must be the feel of real spring in the wind! Irresistible to ladybugs who have been squashed together in a mesh bag for weeks. Maybe they decided they needed to generate more troops to contend with more aphids…..hooray!

Lavender is a great place to party....without aphids. Shhh....don't ask!

First blush

February held our area in a uniquely extended pattern of lovely, mild weather, which encouraged many trees and perennials to start blooming 2 to 3 weeks earlier “than average”.  Fruit trees, rosemary, pussy willows, maples, and, alas, allergies are all ahead of schedule!

We love the beautiful first signs and color blushes of plants awakening with quickened life energy, no matter when they show up!

The signs of late winter.......when the euphorbia blushes.

Colors of spring showing up

The new mason bee nest is now charged with some straws with eggs; perched a few feet above.....

the dwarf peach in full bloom.....

One gets itchy fingers for planting when the temperatures rise to 60° on a weekend! But, not everything can handle the near-freezing night temps yet, so patience!  Instead, it has been time to prune roses, clean up dead plant stalks where they give way to easy tugs, pull up umpteen weeds that have had too much of a good thing, set up the mason bee nest, and take walks.