A Safe Solution to Wasps

While wasps certainly are a normal part of nature and serve an important function we don't always want to be around them.  Wasp stings can be quite painful and some people even have adverse reactions to their sting (as I can attest to, see the post on my swollen foot - not for the squeamish!)  Removing wasps from an area can be a challenge especially if you are like me and don't want to spray chemicals all over the place. Recently I was sent a product to test which does a very good job at capturing wasps without having to use any chemicals in the garden.  It's called the Trapstik by Rescue. The Trapstik is very simple to use.  I just removed it from the box, took off the paper wrap that was on the sticky part of the trap, then hung it up.  I put it on my children's…

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5 Common Garden Insect Pests

Every garden experiences pest issues form time to time.  Insect pest can be frustrating and sometimes when you discover what is damaging your plants it's already too late to do anything about it.  Here are five common insect pests that you may see in your garden for today's Friday Five post!   Pest #1: Flea beetles You'll first notice flea beetle damage when you start to see tiny holes in the foliage.  Mature plants can resist flea beetle damage but younger ones are very susceptible to it.  In my garden they target eggplants more than any other type of plant.  I'll see them on tomatoes and potatoes but the damage is not nearly so dramatic. To deal with flea beetles try using neem oil, insecticidal soap, or diatemaceous earth.  A combination of those treatments may be necessary! For companion planting consider planting catnip. Just don't let the catnip go to…

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A Monarch Butterfly Visit

Yesterday we had the good fortune to witness a Monarch butterfly stopping by our 'Clara Curtis' mum for a fill-up.  Monarchs are on their way south now to find their winter homes and have to stop for nourishment along the way.  We usually see them a couple times a year passing through looking for places to lay their eggs or just stopping by for nectar from the flowers.  They love to use Aclepias purpurascens as a host plant for the larvae which is also known as purple milkweed.  It grows native near us but so far we don't have any in our garden.  We do have Asclepias tuberosa or Butterfly weed which is also another viable food source for Monarch caterpillars. Is it a Male or Female Monarch? If you look carefully in the above picture you will notice two black dots or splotches near the back of the Monarch…

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Mr. Tomato, Sphinx Moth, and a Garden Fresh Pizza

Please forgive the randomness of my title for today's post.  It's hard to sum up a weekend in just a few words!  Weekends are always busy times in the garden when the weather is as beautiful as it has been.  Sunday's humidity was a bit high in anticipation of the rain that's falling on the rooftop at this moment, but otherwise the weather was sunny with occasional clouds with temperatures in the 80's - great gardening weather! In the garden on Saturday we harvested a good batch of tomatoes.  They were mostly Amish paste tomatoes which were destined to become our dinner in the form of pizza!  I skipped a step on my pizza making and completely left off the sauce in favor of sliced tomatoes.  After the dough was rolled out I put a little olive oil on the dough then layered it with tomatoes to completely cover the pizza. It…

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Black Blister Beetle Battles

Another unforeseen issue has arisen in my garden: blister beetles!  These voracious beetles are systematically devouring the foliage of our plants.  So far they've taken turns tasting our tomatoes, tomatillos, and even a clematis.  I'm not heartbroken over the clematis as it's a sweet autumn clematis that grows like a weed - it will come back.  But I do want the tomato plants in the vegetable garden to prosper and so I need to find a way to eliminate the blister beetles before the foliage is all removed. I have what are called black blister beetles.  Blister beetle larvae are predatory insects that love to eat grasshopper eggs but when the larvae mature they become vegetarian and only eat the leaves of your favorite plants... Black Blister Beetle with droppings I noticed our blister beetles when I saw some strange droppings on top of the leaves and on some tomatoes…

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5 Gardening Aggravations!

Aggravations are sure to enter into everyone's lives at some time or another and when we think of aggravations as a part gardening a whole lot of subjects arise! In fact this list of 5 gardening aggravations that I'm about to share with you could extend well beyond the necessary 5 items for a Friday Fives post.  It could even be material for future posts on the subject - which would result in quite a few future posts!  Today I'll list the five gardening aggravations that are on my mind at the moment. Feel free to suggest a few more in the comments below. 5 Gardening Aggravations Drought - Drought conditions are all over Tennessee at the moment.  The grass is crinkly and brown and even the drought tolerant plants we have are showing signs of stress.  Drought tolerant means they can deal with these conditions not that they enjoy…

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Look at This Strange Cocoon!

Large cocoon on ninebark For several months I've been watching this strange cocoon attached to my ninebark.  I was curious what might come from it, and a little apprehensive too, then yesterday I found a second one on a viburnum.  What if it was something that would chow down on my garden?  What if it was some dangerous?  What if it was some giant moth insect that would need Godzilla to kill?  Well I did some looking around yesterday on the internet for a clue.  Do you know what I found? That maybe two out of the three questions I just posed to you could be true!  Which questions? The first one and believe it or not that last one!  There are some caveats of course. Large cocoon on viburnum In my web surfing I found that this cocoon is very similar to the cocoon of the Hyalophora cecropia.  Which…

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Fritillary Caterpillar and Butterfly

One of the fun side events caused by the gardening habit is the witnessing of nature's amazing works. Lately I've been seeing quite a bit of the fritillary butterfly in its various stages of growth.  It's probably the gulf fritillary butterfly but there are several different kinds in our area and even though I'm a plant person I'm not necessarily an insect person!  I found the orange with black spiked caterpillars on a passion flower vine in the back near our shed. The passion flower vine is one of several possible host plants for the fritillary butterflies. I saw this next caterpillar hanging out on a wild white eupatorium that decided to plant itself in my self-sowing garden. It's a pretty wildflower but needs removed before it goes to seed or else it will be everywhere! (which it already is). Then I found this cool display near my corner shade…

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Sunrise, Plant Propagation, and My Foot

This post is a little bit of a Hodge-podge of topics. A conglomeration of a couple of interesting things and one maybe no so much for you (but something I can whine warn you about!) Sunrise This morning we had a gorgeous sunrise that highlighted the early morning clouds.  I snapped I picture from our upstairs bathroom window. It's a small narrow window up high above the tub so I had to be creative with my picture taking but it's what I had to do in order to actually get the sunrise photo from above the neighbor's trees! Plant Propagation Today you might say I'm giving you a hand with your plant propagation techniques!  Yes I know that's a bad pun but it was irresistible (and you know the worse the pun is the more irresistible it becomes). What is actually in my hand is a rooted cutting from my…

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Bee Photography

Here are a few pictures of the bees in my garden.  I hope you enjoy the beeutiful photos! Bee on a coneflower Purple Coneflower Bee on a sunflower Sunflower Bee on a cosmos flower Cosmos Bee on verbena Verbena bonariensis  Bee on 'Oranges and Lemons' Gaillardia 'Oranges and Lemons' Gaillardia Two Bees on coneflower 'Sunset' Coneflower My garden "bee" friendly, don't you think?

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