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Procrastinating?

October 30th, 2017

The big flocks of monarch left a month or so ago, but every couple days I see a straggler. I suppose they’re late bloomers, one of nature’s ways to ensure survival. Some hatch early, some late, many in between. I was surprised when I saw a monarch early last week. I was even more surprised to see one both Saturday and Sunday.

Luckily, I plant late bloomers and leave bolting brassicas in the garden just for the pollinators. I have a very large patch of broccolini that is blooming profusely. It’s constantly covered in bees and the occasional late monarch. Sadly, the tithonia that the monarch are most fond of, got killed by the frost last week. Perhaps I should consider a plant or two of it in a sheltered location for these procrastinating monarchs.

Are you still seeing butterflies and bees in the garden? What do you have blooming for them? Any great late season or cold tolerant plants for pollinators?

Garden Fails

September 27th, 2017

Every year there are failures in the garden. I believe that failure is often one of the best ways to learn, it’s seems easier at times to figure out what works and what doesn’t when we have failures. This year one of my giant failures is in my ornamental cabbage crop. I seeded them in July, moved them outside in mid-August, then they were found by the caterpillars.

I had big dreams of pots of ornamental kale beside my front door until well into December, this is what they look like.


I don’t use any kind of pest control, even “organic” varieties. Often even those (like Slug-O) have consequences down the line. I’m thinking that I need to attract more wrens and birds to my garden. Perhaps a few guinea fowl will do the trick as well, they are fantastic at controlling squash bugs and cabbage worms. My dreams of giant drifts of ornamental kale are gone, but I’ve now learned that there’s just too much pressure at the current moment to try it. Perhaps I’ll just put one of my many pumpkins in the terra cotta pots by my front door. In the future, I may try ornamental kale again, but keep it under an insect barrier until it’s quite large. I may try seeding it a little earlier so it’s larger and more robust. I may just use my time to read a book instead though, sometimes it’s just easier to let dreams go.

What pest issues are you having this time of year? Are there any garden dreams you’ve had to let go of?

Tomato Hornworms

September 20th, 2017

It’s tomato hornworm season here in Maine, I’ve been picking them off my tomatoes like mad. I always watch for the parasitic wasp eggs, but none have been found yet. I never pick them all off, I always sacrifice a few plants in hopes that the wasps will show up. In my Ohio garden I always had the wasps.


The worst part about them is that they take bites out of all the tomatoes, which then get moldy and aren’t good for anything. They won’t ripen and are lost as a crop.

Tomato hornworms are a favorite of my muscovy duck and her ducklings, they’ve been feasting on 5-8 hornworms a day this week.

Do you get hornworms on your tomatoes & peppers? Have you ever seen one covered in parasitic wasp eggs?

UGH…..

March 17th, 2016

Well, we found our first deer tick last Friday. I took Tara on a hike on and when we got back this was crawling up her leg. Luckily, all those wild turkeys I see gobble them up.
tick
The cats always end up with lots of them, luckily they don’t get Lyme disease. I pick them off the cats almost daily in the spring/fall here. I guess it’s time for daily tick checks for the pets and for us, that’s the best way to find them early.

Do you have ticks in your garden?

Soothe the Itch with Plantain

June 2nd, 2014

Now that the weather has warmed the insects have come out as well. Here in Maine they come in droves at certain times of the year, at the moment black flies are biting like crazy. They don’t stop my from working outside. For the most part insects don’t bother me too much, but I do get bit on occasion. When I do I grab a leaf off a broad leaved plantain, pop it in my mouth and chew it for a few seconds, then I put the poultice on my insect bite.
plantain 1
plantain 2
This works like a charm every time, it also works well for bee and wasp stings. If you’d like to read a fascinating collection of the historical uses of plantains head on over and check out this article.

Do you have a tried and true way to dealing with insect bites?

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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