Friday, May 15, 2009

PRG and Gardens Update

My garden is a symphony in spring. The bold notes of the white tulips are followed by the quiet low sounds of the trillium with a rumble of the pulmonaria, then the roar of the white iris. A high note of early lettuces for dinner dances across the top of the music. The crescendo of the new dawn heirloom roses is soon to explode to the first strawberries. After that, a lull. Perhaps an intermission.

During this intermission, japanese beetles take center stage for a moment. These non-native pests, the subject of this next column by our fabulous guest columnist Terry Burger, arrive and sadden us all with their pillaging.

To my knowledge, there is no good control of these beasts. I've heard reports that traps just draw more in from everywhere and milky spore is slow and only modestly effective. I suggested to a friend that she cover her roses with a crop cover during the bad beetle days. She said she grows roses for the ornamental beauty and covering them.... well... defeats that. For a few weeks at least. She's right. But I may still cover mine.

Thank you, Terry! Your column is a fun look at the frustrations that we all have when we see our beloved plants gnawed to nubs.

On another note, I am hoping to move this site to my own domain and start blogging on a completely redesigned page sometime around the end of May. I will let everyone know when I move. It will be: I may keep this site active as a photo gallery. I usualy have more photos than I have space. This time, tho no. But I'll post random images for some Friday fun. Thanks for visiting!

Cherry Tomatoes for Breakfast

My son eats a wide variety of healthy foods. His older sister, in contrast, needs most everything she eats to be fried or processed. I'm not sure, but I think it might have something to do with my son growing up being lugged through vegetable gardens. He loves to eat cherry tomatoes for breakfast.

I find this a great incentive to grow your own.

Volkswagons in love

Volkswagens in Love.
By T.W. Burger.
The flower garden was going pretty well until recently, when I noted that a number of leaves had gone to lace, as though putting on airs. Japanese
As a kid, I always thought Japanese beetles were kind of pretty, like small jewels.
That was then. This is now.
Now, there they were, uncountable clusters of them. I swear, on quiet afternoons I can hear them chewing.
So, what to do? I have no experience in these matters. A friend suggested a new kind of trap, the nature of which I still find vaguely disquieting.
Apparently, bug scientists have come up with bait for these traps that not only attracts the beetles, but fills them with desire. No, not desire; raw, drooling lust is more like it.
"It's really simple," my friend said. "The beetles are fooled into this mating frenzy, and then they fall into this trap and can't get out."
Frankly, it sounded an awful lot like my life during my 20s and 30s. But, putting my queasiness aside, I got some of the traps and placed them in strategic positions around my garden.
Oh, my.
It is a scene I find nearly impossible to describe without leaping far beyond the boundaries of good taste. Think of an armored office Christmas party, or an orgy of animated beans. Think of Volkswagens in Love.
The idea behind the traps is that there is this little thing that holds the bait, some little sponge or something sopping with lust-making beetle pheromone juice. The beetles, thoroughly porcupined by Cupid's arrows, clamber all over the upper part of the trap and, in this case, the branch to which it is tied, cheerfully greeting and getting to know 20 and 30 of their
best friends, one after the other.
Finally, exhausted, they fall into an hourglass-shaped plastic bag, from which there is no escape.
They don't stop, um, greeting one another in the bag either. I made the mistake of picking one of the bags up in my cupped hand when it must have had a couple hundred beetles in it. I will probably have nightmares.
But, nightmares aside, the traps worked. Sure enough, the cannas, the ones that haven't already been turned into brown doilies, are standing in the sunshine un-munched and peaceful.
The question arose of what to do with this embarrassment of beetles once they have greeted themselves to death. Remembering that someone I know swears they make great fish bait, I took a squirming bagful to the back yard and dumped them into Marsh Creek.
A shimmering wad of Japanese beetles plopped into the water and bobbed to the surface, separating as they made it to the surface. A few managed to drag themselves up onto the bank, there perhaps to reflect on what must have seemed a remarkable day. The remainder of the flotilla paddled around in the grip of the main current, swinging out into the broad body of the creek above the dam. It was still the hot part of the day, so the big fish had not yet started feeding,but a few smaller fish began to thin the numbers of the convoy, some of whom seemed to be merely waving their legs around drunkenly.
Perhaps they still thought they were at the party.
The galaxy of dizzy jewels drifted out of perception. It would be twilight soon. I did not think they would be swimming for long. The thought struck me as I headed back up the hill that whatever substance so love-struck the beetles might make its way into the fish population of the creek. By that time the next day, Marsh Creek could be filled to the brim with randy bass, lovesick carp, and catfish inclined to compose bad verse. What have I done? I thought.
I went to the tree to sling the plastic bag back under the bait. The leaves on the branch above bore a darkly shimmering mass of very friendly beetles.

"The wages of sin is death!" I yelled.

Nobody listened. Nobody ever does.

C 2005 Marsh Creek Media,
Gettysburg, Pa.

Yards of Mulch

I suspect many of you have a big pile of mulch in your driveway about now. I am looking forward to digging into mine! Above is an old photo of our son near a pile of mulch.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Chicken Whisperer

A friend told me we'd have fun with the chickens. He was right.

They've grown very quickly. At about 5 weeks old now, they clearly have their own personalities and seem to have grown accustomed to being pets for our children and the neighbors. The kids have been really sweet with them.

I like to have them following me around the garden as I putter.