Sunday, May 24, 2009

I'm declaring a war on pests.

Hello everybody! I'm a little late in getting this blog out, but it's been a busy day filled with errands and rain. It's been raining just long enough to where I can't mow the lawn because it can't dry out. This is driving me insane because there are patches of weeds everywhere. In fact, everything in our yard has been growing out of control. Here is a view from the house into the yard. When we moved into the house (4 years ago), you could easily see our neighbor's house and yard. We transplanted a few bushes, and voila! Instant privacy! ...ok, so it wasn't "instant," but it only took a couple of years to fill in.

And here a view from the back corner towards the house. You can see the garden on the right, with the beans growing up the fence, and the arbor on the left, with the jasmine and muscadine grape growing up it. To the very left is out banana tree, in the middle of the yard we have our cypress, and in the background the pecan trees.

There's nothing like a happy dog (I just had to sneak Brodie in there, he's so cute).

And finally, the garden. It's filling in, wouldn't you say?

Once the rain slowed down, I went out and picked some veggies for dinner. It's kind of like having a grocery store in your backyard, except (1) you don't have as big a choice of what you can have, because you can only have what's ripe that day and (2) home-grown veggies are SOOOO much better than store-bought.

So today we had some cucumbers (I made cucumber salad).


Our first eggplant!

Our first beans! Yes, only a few, I didn't want them to get tough. There's more coming.

...and of course some fresh dill to go in the cucumber salad.

If you think back to those first few blog postings, you'll remember that I scattered many seeds in a patch of dirt at the back of the yard and hoped for the best. Well, just when I'd thought it was being taken over by weeds, I had this little basil pop up! There are many more around it, and I've already dug up two to give Ted and Beth as a housewarming present. (Ted, are they still alive?) I plan on digging these little guys up and transplanting them, since the dogs like to trample around this area a bit.

Hurray for pollination! Here's a bumblebee making sure we get beans this summer. The number of pollinating insects has been rising, which makes me happy! Still haven't seen a single honeybee in the backyard, but the lantana in the front yard has seen a few honeybee visitors.

And with pollination comes... veggies!
Check out the eggplant. And there are still more flowers on it!

Our first batch of jalapenos.

Another bell pepper. There's actually several more growing, but this is the largest.

The roma tomatoes are still just doing their thing.

Same goes for the cherry tomatoes. They are just growing lots and lots of tomatoes, but no red ones yet. If they all turn red at once, I might have to have a tomato-eating party!

So if you read the title of this blog, you are by now thinking - what's with the war on pests? I haven't seen any pests! Well, get ready.
Below we have a beautiful green lacewing. This one is NOT a pest, but a very beneficial insect. As an adult it eats nectar.
As larvae (yes, they look totally different) these guys eat soft-bodied insects. I found this one in my failed wildflower garden and quickly transferred him to the veggie garden for a feast. He's the beige-colored guy below.

I am hoping he will feast on this little sucker. This is (I think) a cucumber beetle larva. It is (as you can see) very destructive and is wreaking havoc on my plants. I saw several adult beetles out on the plants today, and unlike some other insects, cucumber beetles are FAST! So I've been researching the 'net to try and figure out what I can do to keep the garden organic and get rid of the beetles. I'll keep everyone posted on that. Click on the photo below to see the worm.

Just to give you an idea of what I'm dealing with, here's a photo of the evil, evil little thing on my thumb. I think it's amazing that I found it at all! I was sceptical, but then I saw the beetles and knew what I was dealing with. Sorry, no photos of adults, they were too fast. You can look up spotted cucumber beetles and see my mortal enemy up close.

This one is, I think, a weevil of some sort. I'm including the photo because it made me say, "aww!" It looks like a little anteater. No matter how evil a weevil, it's still cute.

Well, I can't include many-legged friends and foes without my friend the orb-weaver. We last visited this spider as it was building its neat, upside-down web in my blueberry bush. Last time I mistakenly called this spider a "she." I now think it's actually a "he" because of the large pedipalps that are visible in this photo. Pedi-what? Look it up!

Well, I was taking some awesome spider photos and tragedy struck! I was holding the twig the spider was sitting on, and suddenly the twig broke, sending the spider flying off the bush. I was instantly very upset with myself! This super cool spider has been living in this plant for months now, and I've gotten to see it grow and spin beautiful webs... and in a brief second it was gone. I've checked twice, but of course it didn't come back to the same spot. Spiders don't do that.
I was cheered a little today by the fact that two new spiders have taken up residence in the blueberry bush. They are (from what I can currently tell) two different species. One was spinning its web right in front of me. I've never actually seen a spider do that before and it was so awesome - it was much faster than I realized! I tried to get it on video, but my camera wouldn't focus on the teeny, tiny spider.
Here's a photo of the awesome orb weaver before he went flying through the air to his new home - wherever that may be. No special effects in this one, just the sun playing along at the right moment.

And last but not least - the one rose bush we have left in the yard from the previous owner bloomed today! Here's what it looked like yesterday...

...and here it is today! I love this color!

Check back for updates on the WAR ON PESTS.
I sure hope I can get rid of these stupid beetles.


Ted said...

1.) both basils are still alive. in fact, i transplanted them to my herb container on the front porch.

2.) the orb weaver photo is awesome.

3.) that is a gorgeous rose.

4.) once we get our place cleaned up a little and i clear out the broken glass and branches scattered around the yard we're going to move onto our garden and i nominate you to help. : )

German Girl said...

YAY! I can't wait to help you in your garden! It's so a fantastic blank slate. Can't wait to see what you have planned!

Glad to hear the basil is still alive. I just transplanted a bunch more into a pot indoors and it's doing great.