17 August 2016

the catch (and other things)

Didn't get exactly what I expected. I put out eight beer traps last night- five in the vegetable garden and three among the salvia. I did catch three slugs- two big ones from the salvia area and a smaller one near the swiss chard. But the rest? Ants in one. A black beetle near the peppers (sorry for that, I think beetles are good guys). A few earwigs. Some pill bugs. And crickets! More crickets than anything else. Do crickets eat garden plants? I thought they went for decaying material, or fruit. Maybe they fell in by accident.

Wiped the underside of broccoli leaves with my hands again. I'm not sure, but it seems there are less whitefly swarms this morning. Maybe smashing off the larval stages and eggs by hand did some good. Or maybe some got caught on my yellow boards after all. I am seriously considering trashing all the sickly green bean plants and keeping the broccoli, just to continue picking caterpillars off them... A handful more of those today. I tried to identify the ones I don't know- that aren't cabbage loopers. All I was able to narrow down was that they're some kind of moth. If they were butterfly larvae (other than the cabbage white) I would have just moved them to a landscaping plant, not stashed in the freezer for my fish.

Speaking of fish, I am going to have to re-think my food trap. Functionally, it's great. The black kuhlis are ecstatic each time I lower it into the tank. But they're getting injured. It had been four or five days since the last time I used it, and their scratches were healing. I took a good amount of time sanding the edges of the entrance and exit holes with a metal nail file and tiny strips of sandpaper- now the plastic is all scuffed in those areas, but it did feel a lot smoother- at least to my fingers. Not good enough for the kuhlis though. I watched them go in for soaked micropellets. They went through the holes a lot more smoothly than before- not as much hesitation- I think the sanding job widened the opening a bit. But still they got hurt. When all was done and the kuhlis lay around hanging off of green crypt stems and lounging under the subwasser baskets with full tummies, I saw that the two biggest ones (Sluggy and Curly) definitely have new scratches. Must be the trap. I may have to go back to feeding them under a rock. It sure looked more difficult for them, and was entertaining to watch! but not foolproof (sometimes the barbs got the food anyway). However they never sustained scratches from digging under the rock.

Other notes: looks like the lysimachia in the back planting bed is dying. Of the newer plants I have lost completely one heartleaf brunnera plant, and half of the astilbes. Lupine and larkspur are dead. But these ones are fine: heucherella, columbine, bee balm, argyranthemum (although it looks funny, lower foliage has died off leaving tufts of green on the terminal ends of stems). I will have to get a picture of that. The young echinacea I put in this spring are doing great- they're not big yet, but they seem fine through all the heat. To my surprise gerbera daisy plant is steadily growing, while the dahlia remains small, stunted looking- that plant has not impressed me at all. Well, this list definitely tells me what I will be adding to the garden next spring- more of those that made it (I'm glad that bee balm is one of them. A bit disappointed that lupine is not). I just don't want landscaping plants that have to be pampered.

One last note: when I was setting out beer traps, I noticed a big difference in the soil. In the garden where I've built it up continually with my best compost and worm castings plus shredded cardboard, leaf mulch and grass clippings, the soil was nice and loose, dark and soft and full of gleaming healthy-looking worms that moved away from me pretty quickly! I could dig into it easily with my hands. Lovely soil. Makes me hopeful for a better garden next year, if I can pay attention and get on top of bug control earlier. Soil around the salvia in the landscaping bed was very different. Dry, compact, paler in color. I admit I don't give them nearly as much attention. That area gets leaf mulch and compost only twice a year- or when I think of it and have extra after feeding the garden. Only new plants get the rich worm castings when they first get planted. I'm really tough (or stingy) on that set of plants!

This post really got all over the place. I don't usually write one up about so many subjects at once- and without pictures. But it was all on my mind this morning.

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