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July 1st, 2018

“Insects are less conspicuous and less glamorous than songbirds, dragonflies or hedgehogs are the foundation from which a healthy wildlife garden is built. The American word ‘bugs’ contributes to a profound misunderstanding of the importance of insects as part of the chain of life. The more varied the garden’s insects population, the healthier it will e. Without a healthy insect population, the whole food chain of birds, mammals and flowers starts to fall apart. Not only to we want more insects, we need them.”

Monty Don in Down to Earth






I love this and have always said all insects are good, even if they are one’s we don’t want to see in the garden. This week I’ve been seeing lots of insects I don’t necessarily want to see, but they’re part of the ecosystem. I’ve seen: cucumber beetles, squash bugs, mosquitoes, deer flies, but also butterflies, bees, tiny native pollinators, and so many more.

What insects are you seeing this week?

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?

Hello Little Guy

August 8th, 2013

One day, Mr Chiots and I were sitting out back under the maple tree taking a break and we noticed this little guy walked across a log.
caterpillar 3
I grabbed my camera to take some photos so we could i.d. it. A quick google search leads us to believe it is the caterpillar of the white-marked tussock moth. From what I read, they defoliate trees and the birds love to eat them.
caterpillar 1
They’re rather interesting little caterpillars, so intricate with so many different kinds of hairy tufts.
caterpillar 2
This is one of the things I love about gardening, you get to see so many interesting thing, particularly insects. Check out this spider I spotted the other day. I told Mr Chiots that I found Shelob in the garden. It had a grasshopper all rolled up in it’s web.
spider
You just never know what you’re going to see when you head out into the garden every day!

Have you spotted any beautiful insects recently?

Toadpoles

May 11th, 2011

Last year Mr Chiots and I installed a small pond in our garden. We filled it with goldfish and surrounded it with rocks and plants. Sadly our fish didn’t make it last summer but we did see the occasionally toad soaking in the pond. We let the leaves collect in the pond over the winter to get a good layer of natural muck in it before adding some new fish this spring. We figured this would make the water more like regular pond water. So far it seems to be working as our fish have survived longer than they did last year (last year they got the ick).

When I was out looking at the pond a week ago I noticed toad tadpoles – or toadpoles as we call them. It’s super excited to see the pond swimming with thousands of these little guys. Why was I so excited to see so many toadpoles?

Toads are one of the best forms of “organic” pest control that you can have in the garden. They eat slugs and many other common garden pests. When we first moved in, our garden were infested with slugs and earwigs. We didn’t want to use any chemicals, so layed a few boards in the flowerbeds to attract toads. The next year we saw a big toad and ever since then I rarely see a slug or an earwig.

To encourage toads to move into your garden place a few large flat rocks or small boards in your flowerbeds. Installing a small pond will also attract not only them but other beneficial things as well, like birds. Of course you’ll want fish to keep the mosquitos at bay. You don’t necessarily need the pond, but it sure does help if they have a spot to reproduce.

Toads appreciate moisture all season long, so if you make sure you have moist areas for them to encourage them to stick around. Perhaps you can keep one area of your garden watered more than others, add some water loving plants. You can also install simple water features for toads, beneficial insect and birds by placing a pot saucer on the ground filled with river stones. Make sure you dump out the water and add fresh each week to keep mosquitos from breeding (although mosquitos feed bats, hummingbirds and other animals so I don’t worry too much about them either).

Be warned, if you use any kind of treatment for slugs, even “organic” ones you can inadvertently kill toads, frogs, birds, and fish. So don’t use them if you’re trying to attract toads to your garden. Remember, if you want a beneficial insect or animal to move in you often have to allow the pest insect population to reach a certain level to attract them. You may lose a crop of something one year, but you’ll save so much time and money by not having to use pesticides (even organic ones). You’ll also end up with a healthier ecosystem in your garden, which in turn makes your plants healthier!

Do you have toads in your gardens? Do you do anything specific to attract them?

Peppermint for Beneficials

September 17th, 2010

The peppermint is blooming in my garden right now and the bees, butterflies and other pollinators are loving it. I’m so happy that it’s blooming at this time of the year when nectar and pollen are quite scarce. I love watching the peppermint patch as it’s abuzz with all types, sizes, and colors of pollinators.





I must divide these plants and add more clumps around the gardens. I know they can be invasive, but in my woodland gardens invasive things barely hold one against the saplings and wild flowers. I find myself trying to incorporate more and more plants that bloom and provide nectar or pollen throughout the season just to provide sources of food for these lovely little insects.

Do you have any plants blooming for the pollinators? Do you plant with them in mind?

Seeds and Sundries
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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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