pesticide

Getting Creative with Bugs

So I have this cricket problem.  They’re eating me out of plant and garden.  Voracious little critters, they seem to be able to destroy a pumpkin vine in a matter of days, a helpless little Brussels in a matter of hours.  I tried bird netting.  But the squares are a bit too big.

Crickets can jump clear through them.  Not always on the first try, mind you, but give them enough chances and out they go!  Rascals.

So I had to get creative.  For my netting, I’ve doubled up.  This way, the pattern won’t match up identically and some of the squares will be rendered to triangles and the crickets won’t be able to escape.  More importantly, they won’t be able to get in.  The hoops are 9 gauge wire cut into pieces that I bend to suit my needs. More

Dirty Dozen

You’ve all heard of the dirty dozen, right?  Not to be confused with Dirty Harry (though my mother would plant him in her garden, if she could!).  These are the top twelve fruits and vegetables known for being laden with pesticides and fungicides.  Unfortunately, my favorite “Granny Smith” tops the list every year. 

Apples.  The number one offender when it comes to toxic residue.  According to Environmental Working Group (EWG), the group who publishes the list every year, it’s believed “more pesticides and fungicides are being applied after the harvest so the fruit can have a longer shelf life.”  Huh.  Well who’d a thunk it.  Yet another reason to grow your own.  That’s what the kids think, anyway.  This week we chased caterpillars from the garden and talked pesticide.  Organic pesticide.

The little boy looked up at me in horror.  “You want me to squish it?” More

Hornworms Anonymous

I quit.  I’ve had it up to here with the dastardly hornworm.  He’s BACK in my garden and devouring my tomato plants at alarming rates.  Egads–have you ever seen anything so horrid?

It’s not pretty.  Probably can’t see him in there, tucked beneath the leaves.  But look closely.  Head like a walrus on one end, cute little tail like a puppy dog on the other, these creatures can eat their weight in tomato leaves in the space of ten minutes, taking out your entire plant by the end of the day.  (Those missing leaves are his doing.) More

Worms Can Be A Dirty Business ~ But NOT Stinky!

Cleaning my worm bin this weekend I learned a few things.  Number one, proper worm bins do not smell–a fact I attempted to share with my husband as he walked by and warned, “Don’t track any of that stinky stuff through the house.” 

Now see, if he were taking part in this project with me, he would know better.  Worm castings done right, don’t stink.  Ask my fab friend Angie who turned me on to worm bins (though admittedly, I think she’s a lot better at this stuff than I am).  Course, if you want to talk “stinky” try fish emulsion.  That stuff smells like low tide on hot dry summer day.  Nasty.

As he stood there glaring, waiting for a response I threatened, “If you’re not nice to me, I’m going to blog about you.”

He shrugged.  “Big deal. I live that blog.”

A smile tugged at me.  True.  But now he sounded like the kids.  “Why do we have to be the gardeners?  It’s your blog!”

“It’s our garden, children.  Now run along and grab some more weeds, will you?”

As I return to the business of harvesting worm poop, I gather the bottom most bin and gaze in wonder at the gold–er, make that black–mine of a bounty they’ve produced.

Lovely, isn’t it?  Next, I smear the fresh worm castings across the cardboard.  By doing so, I’m separating the worms from the poop. 

Don’t want to lose any of these beauties!  So I painstakingly remove them one by one (or clump, if I’m lucky) to be sure they don’t suffer an arid death.

Next, I lift the baby and return him to the safety and comfort of his bin where I will add fresh food and continue my “layering process.”  This is where the lower bins are the oldest, upper bins are the newest.  Easier to add food this way, right? :)  

Now as I’m doing this, I’m thinking to myself there’s got to be an easier way. Granted worm castings don’t stink, but plucking worms from their midst is a tedious task.  I’m not about to lose a single one.  Not only are these pumpkins valuable to me, I hate the loss of life any life.

It does inspire me to schedule that trip to my local worm farm. I’ve been wanting to go and I’m sure they can guide me in the best methods for salvaging the worm poop from my bin.  And come to think of it, it sounds like a great field trip for the kids at school.  Plants love worm poop and kids love worms!  Is it a wonder why the students love their garden so?

Number two lesson?  Make worm pee in the process!  Not only does it provide the perfect method for cleaning your “worm removal” tool…

But it also make great plant food and insect repellent! (You’re all a tingle with excitement, aren’t you?)  Oh, how I do love a multi-tasker!

Dry your harvested poop until crumbly.  Here’s a gander at how they differ.  And no, it’s not your imagination.  The dried worm poop in this photo still has some “undigested” eggshells.  What can I say?  I’m an impatient sort and organic gardening is WAY exciting.

Then store in airtight bag for later use.  Your plants will thank you.

I’ll bet some of you have some helpful tips for me.  Do share!