Alarming Aphids

1) I knew last year there were aphids in parts of the plum tree.
2). Our plum tree is swarming with bees this year, and it’s done blooming. They land on a leaf, walk around a bit, then go to a new leaf.

I couldn’t figure it out- bees don’t eat aphids, and these are definitely honey bees. My research finally came yesterday to honeydew. Aphids eat by piercing the veins of leaves and sucking out the sap. It’s mostly water, so they need to drink quite a bit to get the nutrients they need, and the excess is excreted as honeydew. It’s quite sweet, and shows up as shiny patches on the leaves. Bees love honeydew! The only issue is that it can be harmful to them if the tree sap contains neurotoxins, which are concentrated in the honeydew. The only tree I could find mention of was the lime tree, so hopefully this isn’t dangerous to our bees.

I pulled off a leaf yesterday, to see if I cold find any aphids (the branches are pretty high up), and gasped at what I saw.

20130526-154241.jpg

Aphids cause leaf curl, and can inject parasites into trees when they pierce.

I was thinking live and let live, and wait for nature to take its course. Surely the ladybugs or parasitic wasps would come soon to this burgeoning food source? Now I’m going to spray tomorrow with my homemade spray (1 tsp peppermint Castile soap to 1 cup water.). But I’m still a little torn- this is a great food source for the bees. There are MORE bees on the rhodie, though, so I’ll just plant some extra flowers this year!

You Can Grind Cinnamon in a Blender

I made an apple fritter cake today, and found I was out of cinnamon halfway through. Guess what? The vitamix turned cinnamon sticks to an amazing, fragrant, dark cinnamon. I’m kind of loving this- it has a bit of texture to it.

20130525-134454.jpg

Garden Sale

20130519-084842.jpg

Mom and I grew over 400 plants this year- 50 for her primary, 250 for my annual sale, and 100 to donate to our homeschool co-op Spring Event.

The school sale was this weekend- along with my tomatoes we had flats of flowers donated by a local business. There were games and a bouncy house for the kids, a little yard sale, a waffle truck, and lots of local businesses with information booths set up. This was all to raise money for our PTSA and co-op.

May Garden Update

20130502-134423.jpg

20130502-134440.jpg

20130502-134452.jpg

20130502-134505.jpg

20130502-134518.jpg

20130502-134530.jpg

20130502-134614.jpg

20130502-134655.jpg

20130502-134713.jpg

20130502-134722.jpg

A new experiment for me this year: water tepees for my tomatoes! The channels hold water- they absorb heat during the day and keep the plants warm at night, warm the soil, protect the plants from wind and rain, and… I think the red light is supposed to do something good for the plants. One that was on uneven ground collapsed today- thankfully my daughter was out watering plants and came and got me. Poor little tomato- I staked it up and will try the tepee again this afternoon, with some supports.

Strawberries are blooming and so is last year’s kale. The kale needs to come out, but I wanted to leave the flowers for the bees.

We found a broken robin egg in the garden- we have two or three nests in our yard. I’m not sure how many are occupied, but I think the crows succeeded in stealing an egg. The robins have been ferociously defending their territory the past week, and are always out digging up worms and finding bits of fluff for their nests.

We have some bits of ajuga popping up in the yard- I love the purple leaves and flowers, so I normally leave it. Even when it pops out of my cinder block wall.

The oregano is getting huge- I need to trim it back and dry the leaves. I like to let it flower in the summer too, because bees LOVE it.

My husband and I happened to walk by a p-patch in Seattle a month or so ago. So, so, so cute. I want a cute garden!! Seriously. Anyway, there was a flower in full bloom that I’d never seen before. Plus, when do you see orange blooms in April? Nearly everything is blues and yellows. I saw a bucket of it at Freddy’s and it came home with me that day- kumquat nemesia. Full sun, drought tolerant, annual, blooms in the spring, not fussy… I am smitten.

Greenhouse Update

20130502-133141.jpg

20130502-133155.jpg

20130502-133207.jpg

20130502-133224.jpg

20130502-133308.jpg

Things are growing nicely- the tomatoes grew fast in Mom’s greenhouse- I brought home about 175 tomatoes, kale, and tomatillos to sell this weekend. It’s time, they’re getting too big for our pots! They’re all snuggled into my cooler greenhouse now, alongside my fresher seedlings for the warm months.

After this heat spell we’re in, I’m going to take my sunflowers, squash, borage, calendula, and marigolds up to the bigger greenhouse to grow for a few weeks. I needed to make some room for them first! There are still about 200 plants up at the other greenhouse- 150 spoken for that will go out in two weeks, and about 50 others that need to come down.

Half of those sold today, I know we won’t have trouble finding a home for the rest!