Saturday, September 25, 2010

A Stinky Invasion!

I love bugs, I really do.  They are such an important part of my garden, I know that sounds odd but it’s true.  Bugs of all kinds play a very important role in gardening. I love to watch the pollinators, I love to see the giant beetles that help break down old tree stumps, I even love the worms that help to turn my kitchen scraps into compost!  Right now though, I am not loving, these….
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The brown marmorated stink bug.
These little armored tank bugs hale from Asia and arrived in Maryland around 2003.  They were first seen in Pennsylvania in 1998 and have since worked their way down to as far south as West Virginia.  These bugs are harmless to humans and animals, they don’t bite, they don’t sting, they won’t eat your house and they don’t mate indoors.  Where they are a problem and potentially a huge one is for farmers, vineyards and orchards.  You see these harmless looking bugs suck the juices out of fruits and vegetables and one local Maryland orchard in Maryland is blaming a 30% apple crop loss on these bugs.

The adults emerge in late spring and mate. The eggs hatch into small red & black nymphs that go through five molts. Adults begin to search for overwintering sites starting in September through the first half of October which is why so many people are having problems now!
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Unless your house is 100 percent sealed at every crack, crevice and corner, these guys are going to get in.  Chances are that even if it is sealed that well, they are still going to get in just from you going in and out of your house.  Manual control is currently the only way to handle these guys, that means gathering them by hand.  A jar of water with a drop of dish soap to break the surface tension will drown them.  You can use your vacuum them up as long as they won’t be crushed in the process of doing that.  These guys stink and when the stink is released it attracts more to the area.  Currently the departments of Agricultural are hard at work trying to find a solution to these guys.  I’m sure it’s pretty important to them because I suspect these are going to become a problem all over the United States.
For more information check out these sites…
Home & Garden Information Maryland

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Only the tough…

It’s the time when the leaves are starting to fall, mainly poplar leaves but enough so that the familiar crunch was underfoot as I walked my yard this morning. With the dry comes the deer, some of my hosta have been munched to look like stalks of a odd grass, it is part of my gardening life though so cest’ la vie!  The true tough characters of the plants in my gardens shine at this time of year.  It’s dry as bone here we’ve even been under wildfire warnings because of the lack of rain, low humidity and wind. So to see anything blooming is impressive to me!
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My pollinator garden is a mass of mostly green right now, there are a few blooms scattered about, a few daises, some basil, some boneset and this flower that is planted solely for sentimental reasons.  This delicate little pink flower is from my grandma’s garden, passed to me via my mom.  It’s a perennial begonia that I love, it’s happily spreading here in this bed, mixed among ferns, miniature hosta and milkweeds.  I treasure this flower as it reminds me of two women that I love and deeply admire!  My grandma has long since passed and I miss her very much, yet when I’m out among my flowers weeding or walking I can still feel her with me.  My mom is very much alive and is still gardening with a passion that she passed on to me.  I’ve learned more from her about how to be a gardener than any books I’ve ever read.  The respect for nature and the love of all things wild was given to me by her.  She I am sure doubted how much attention I paid to the garden club meetings and sales that she towed me to when I was a little and even as a teen, but it appears that osmosis works better than she knew.  I owe her much, for if I hadn’t been blessed with the knowledge and understanding of plants and nature that she gifted to me, I would have missed so much!
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My butterfly bushes are still blooming, though they need tending to very badly.  I need to deadhead and stake up some branches that have fallen over into the surrounding plants.  I’m hoping that this weekend will be favorable to some much needed gardening!  The process of deadheading, weeding and leaf mulching will be starting if this beautiful weather holds.
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My Asters are blooming their proverbial heads off and they are gorgeous!  This is something that I really want more of in my gardens!  They really are super easy to grow, perform every year and as a bonus the deer don’t eat them!
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Another hard worker are these lovely almost blue perennial ageratum, each year they comes back and each year they bloom regardless of the weather.  Granted the leaves are a bit shriveled right now because of the lack of rain, yet here it is, lovely as ever. 
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My transplanted sedums are doing pretty good all things considered and behind them, I noticed some firecracker goldenrod getting ready to bloom. Since I thought I’d lost all of that, I’m pretty happy to see it back there.
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Finally there’s the pond and it’s thriving!  The annual water lettuce spread nicely this year (maybe a bit too much lol) but it’s provided shade for the fish and hiding places for the frogs that are heard but not seen.  The fish seem to be exceptionally happy in their new home and have been eating like piranha this year!  We’ve designed a new leaf net for the fall, you can see the line already in place and I suspect we will be putting the net over it pretty soon.  Last year between the wind and lack of landscaping too much leaf matter got into the pond even for the monster skimmer to handle, didn’t want to repeat that!
I’m ready for fall I think, ready for the leaves to change color, the temperatures to cool and for some rains to come and soften the ground.  I’ve still got some trees and shrubs in a holding bed that really need to be planted!

Compost is going to happen!

I have had bins, I have had big round compost heaps and they have all had the same frustrating outcome…no compost.  I admit it, I want to du...