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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?


June 18th, 2018

This year has been an especially bad year for cutworms in the vegetable garden. Every morning, I patrol the garden looking for the tell-tale signs that they’ve been out and about. You can typically tell cutworm damage because the seedlings look like they’ve been snipped off at the base of the plant.

If you you use your fingers to make rings about an inch deep around the stem, you’ll find the cutworm, usually about 2-3 inches away from the stem. They can vary in size and are brown, so they can be hard to spot.

This past week I’ve dug up 10, the chickens have been turning them into eggs for me. ¬†This is one pest that can do some serious damage in a vegetable garden. I lost about half of my second planting of lettuce to these little beasties. Last year they ravaged by beans and cucumbers.

Are you dealing with any pests in the garden at the moment? 

Future Butterflies

July 9th, 2011

Last week I was at my mom’s and she mentioned that she had some yellow swallowtail caterpillars on her fennel. I had seen a few tiny caterpillars on my dill, but they were too small to tell what they were yet. I’ve been keeping my eye on them, and sure enough – they’re going to become yellow swallowtails. These caterpillars are quite striking with their lined and bright colors. They’ve been munching away on a bronze fennel plant I have growing in my front flowerbed. It’s amazing how quickly they grow!

This is one reason to include a wide variety of plants in your gardens. Fennel seems to be attractive to a lot of insects, as does milkweed. My mom has been working on establishing a nice stand of milkweed for the last 15 years and last year she was finally rewarded with monarch caterpillars on hers.

Do you have any herbs or plants that seem to attract certain insects?

Quote of the Day: Christy Bartlett

June 12th, 2011

“You can’t be lazy. It’s up to you to see and see something new, to sustain your interest in the world around you. It’s not up to the world to entertain you. It requires effort to be interested.”

Christy Bartlett – found in The Wabi-Sabi House: The Japanese Art of Imperfect Beauty

Sometimes all it takes is looking under a leaf to find something new and exciting. I find gardening to be endlessly interesting. The more I learn about nature the less I realize that I know or understand about it. I’ve looked at wild daisies hundreds of times and earlier this week I picked some for the kitchen table and found these lovely beauties on the underside of one of the leaves.

Things like this always amaze me. These tiny little bronze/gold pearlescent eggs are perfectly formed. I think they’re leaf footed insect eggs, but I’m not positive. I’ll definitely spend some time looking these up. (here’s the post with the images of what hatched out of these lovely eggs)

What has piqued your interest lately?

Bamboo for Beneficials

November 6th, 2009

I like to use bamboo stakes in the garden because they’re sturdy and they look nice. I also like to use them because the small solitary bees use them for their nests. I was noticing when taking down all of my plant stakes that almost all of them were filled with all sizes of beneficial solitary bees (probably some of those I saw on the last queen anne’s lace the other day).
I think it’s interesting how many different kinds of solitary bees there are. Some of these stakes are plugged with mud, others are filled with bits of leaves. They also like all different sizes of stakes, I assume for all the different sizes of bees. There’s no need to buy those expensive little solitary bee houses when you use bamboo stakes
This jewel wasp is one the beneficials that’s using the bamboo, I’ve seen them coming and going from the stakes.
I think this might be a sand wasp, but I’m not positive. It might be using the bamboo stakes as well.
It’s quite fascinating really, the way nature works. The more I garden organically, the greater the variety of insects I see flitting about the garden and these little solitary bees are no exception. With the number of bamboo stake I use (over 100) I’ll have plenty of pollinators in the spring! This is a great way to attract solitary bees and wasps to your garden and they’ll pollinate your crops beautifully.

Do you do anything special to attract solitary bees or other pollinators?

Reading & Watching

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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.