Saturday, March 14, 2009

Insects, friend or foe?

I need serious help. I just spent four HOURS reading about bugs. Sheesh.
Also this is really cool if you're at all interested in these sorts of things. ::gives sideways glance to Randy:: The Lost Lady Bug Project. It's really what started my whole bug obsession this evening. I've known about this study for a couple of months now but tonight it grabbed my attention for some reason and I started thinking about all the bugs I see in the garden and how they effect the plants and each other, etc. Anyway I've started taking pictures of "the ladies" I see around here. Most of the time I get the very common seven spotted ones that are sold at garden centers for pest control and are imported from Europe, but a few weeks ago I got lucky and found a Adalia bipunctata which is a rare native two spotted lady beetle. Sweet!
So I sent in my picture to the Cornell lab. I'm still on the hunt for a nine spotted lady though. Maybe when the weather warms up a bit? Yeah, I never said I wasn't a dork.

I also got my peas planted today, started a new crop of butter-head lettuce, thinned my broccoli and tomatoes starts down to just the plants that will go in the garden and potted those up out of the flats. The dark little soil squares reminded me of cake. ;^) I also hopefully fixed the problem of some of the stressed out starts by increasing their drainage and giving them a good watering to help flush any of the excess fertalizer I might have over done it with. I really didn't think it was that much but yikes - they're not happy. Let me repeat, I do not like flats. I'll go back to my old routine when I begin my summer crop starts.

I decided to try the square-foot spacing method this year too. We'll see how it goes. It appeals to my sense of neat freakishness organization. Here you can see some templates I kinda hacked together. Ideally, of course, they should be clean clear plastic perfectly measured and machined templates but let's wait and see how much I like this system before I get all coo-coo about it.

This is the appropriate spacing for spinach amongst other things. I'd hate to have to measure this out every time I want to plant something so templates seemed to be the way to go.

You can easily see where I planted radishes even without the template showing. They're even closer together then the spinach!

I also found out that to become a certified Master Gardener I need $700 and 40 -75 hours of volunteer time. Ha. Pipe dream for now. Ah well. I'll just keep teaching myself what I want to learn.

Weather: 43.9 °F and *DUMPING** rain
Windchill: 44 °F
Humidity: 87%
Dew Point: 40 °F
Wind: 2.0 mph from the West
Wind Gust: 14.0 mph


Randy Emmitt said...


Nice photo of a lady bug I've never seen. I don't seem to pay much attention to them honestly. I do like photographing tiger beetles they are so cool. One place you might want to post bug photos is to If its butterflies or dragonflies I can do them pretty well.

Liisa said...

Sweet find on the ladybug. It never occured to me to count the spots. I'll have to keep my eyes open. Lord know I have enough aphids to keep them well fed in my yard.


Annie's Granny said...

I like the templates. I have been tempted to make some from 1 sf vinyl tiles. They would be moisture proof and stack easily for storage.

Just Jenn said...

Randy... just a nod in your direct that you like bugs in general, not specifically lady bugs. ;^) I'll never be as good as you taking their pictures though.

Lisa... I never counted either. It's been a fun little side distraction while gardening.

Granny... you're such a smartie! I should've used some left over tiles! ::smacks self in head:: Doh! We'll I'm sure it won't be long before I forget and accidentally leave one or two of these in the rain and will need to replace it. ;^)

engineeredgarden said...

Jenn, I really like your templates! I want you to know, that I learned something from this post....the correct spacing for spinach. I've got mine at 4 per sqft! Crap.....Oh well...I'll know next time. $700? Holy Moly......


Cheryl said...

I saw a gold lady bug last year. It looked like somebody had spray painted it.

A cold frame at the end of a raised bed. That's the coolest thing ever. I've gotta use that one.

Granny, I've got tiles in the basement. Now I know what to do with them.