Wednesday, 26 May 2010

More crawlies

It is very much tent caterpillar season. Here is one with the mark of satan on its brow: a parasitic (ichneumon?) wasp has laid its egg on this unfortunate. There's a moral choice here: kill the caterpillar for a swift death, and wipe out a beneficial insect? Or leave the caterpillar to experience an Alien-type of death? Nature can be a difficult place.

Spring is also a time of digging in the garden, and I had an interested bystander last week who watched me carefully to make sure I had not uprooted the rock that was its home.

I decided to extend a little patch of garden by digging a couple of feet into the lawn

which meant digging up some grass and, in the process, a large population of wireworms

as well as a large population of leatherjackets, a couple of snails

and a cutworm larva.

My war against slugs continues, and I think I'm getting the upper hand, mostly by hand-picking at night. But I complement this activity with some slug traps made out of used styrofoam or plastic cups,

baited with home brew (water, yeast, sugar and flour) and it attracts a good number of drinkers who hang out in the bar past closing and then fall in.

I have been surprised by my slug populations' fondness for onions.

The chives are in full blossom, which is good for my salads and visiting bees:

The garden spiders have moved to the strawberry pots:

My overwintered artichoke has offered a second bulb and seems perfectly happy under the downspout of the garden shed, surprisingly. Plagued with ants though, and I'm not sure if that's harmful or not. More research needed.

The potato car tire experiment continues, behind the shed, next to the fence, so well out of direct sunlight. They seem happy enough so far, as do the burlap bag specimens.

The leeks are looking better in the pot than they do in the garden (where I suspect wireworms have been nibbling on their feet), and the radishes are helping to pass the time between them:

Lots of flowers on the fava beans:

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Creepy spring

Last year's battles with tent caterpillars were gruesome, but I have (so far) managed to find and destroy the few nests that are turning up in my apple tree. Not so with the ones in my neighbour's plum tree - I have visitors dropping in periodically - but hopefully they will go away soon.

I believe this is a sowbug,

one of the night-crawling culprits who (together with the slugs) are making my rhubarb look like this:

I have been on slug patrol the past few nights and found so many slugs I lost count. Most are babies. I have been putting out slug brew for them (served in plastic party cups) and had quite a few takers, but will need to go slug-picking more often to keep them under control.

Meanwhile, I discovered several conglomerations of spiders, which I think are baby Garden Spiders. I would like them better if they ate slugs...

More potato experiments this year. I'm trying them in a burlap bag

as well as car tires again, and some in the earth as well. Meanwhile, the artichoke I planted last year survived the winter and looks like it will offer me something nice to eat this spring...