Category Archives: Garden Pests

The Summer Is Here!

The Summer Is Here!

Today is the first day of summer! So happy summer! It’s the longest day of the year (or the shortest if you live on the other side of the world).

Summer is…

  • a time for home made and carted popsicles.
  • swimming pools or swimming holes.
  • firefly lanterns and sleep outs.
  • lemonade on the porch and watermelon in the fridge.
  • secrets with friends.
  • daisy chains and banana bikes.
  • pirates and princesses.
  • grandparents and cousins.

It’s the first day. What are you going to do with your summer?

Make it paisley!~KeriAnne

Stuff You Missed in Botany: Parasitic Wasps (and other beneficial insects)

Stuff You Missed in Botany: Parasitic Wasps (and other beneficial insects)

I’ve barely been in the garden this week, but today is cool and gorgeous; so this may be a short post.

A reader wrote me to ask what a parasitic wasp was and how, as I had suggested, they could make them their friends? What a great question to answer on Botany day!

These little guys are very small, sometimes 1/100th to 3/4’s of an inch long. That’s small. So small, in fact that they often go unnoticed, to humans.

Trichogramma Wasp, Not a Mosquito

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Throwback Thursday: Is There Anything As Cool As A Cucumber?

Throwback Thursday: Is There Anything As Cool As A Cucumber?

Is there anything as cool as a cucumber?

Cucumbers are just happy plants to grow. They’re so enthusiastic about things. If you have a cool spell, they’re  okay with that. The heat gets turned up, that’s good with them. Rainy spring? They love it.

Really the only thing they may, perhaps, look sideways at you about is if you fail to give them a drink. Cucumbers are lushes, they want a drink. No, they need a drink! But, even with the extreme drought we had last summer, the cucumbers were fine as long as I remembered to water them in the morning and not at night.

Originally from India, cucumbers are now grown on every continent, except Antarctica. (If you live in Antarctica and are growing cucumbers, please let me know) You know after I said that, I’ll bet the scientists in Antarctica do grow cucumbers. Hmmm (Great, now all I can think about is Antarctica)

In case you missed it, I love cucumbers!

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Stuff You Missed in Botany: Experiment With Organic Pest Control

Stuff You Missed in Botany: Experiment With Organic Pest Control

No, I’m not telling you what an experiment is as such. I’m telling you about a Botany experiment I’m going to be doing with my son, Jonathan.

Last week while searching for various and sundry things, I came across an interesting article about Myrosinase. This has sparked much curiosity, scientific probing,  and even a bit of the entrepreneur spirit around the Gunz household.

Myrosinase is an enzyme that is released when radish leaves are stressed. (It’s not only radish leaves, but most of the brassicas family, the largest quantity comes from rapeseed) The enzyme acts as a repellent to insects, and other foragers.

DNA of Myrosinase~it looks like confetti...so pretty and paisley!

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Stuff You Missed in Botany: Book Review

Stuff You Missed in Botany: Book Review

My stuff you missed is not a Botany term at all, but rather, a book review.

Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Botsford Comstock

I’m recommending this book to everyone, not just those with kids. In truth, I use it more than my kids, or at least as much as they do.

Inside Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Botsford Comstock

The book is The Handbook of Nature Studyby Anna Botsford Comstock. It was written in 1911 with a rewrite in 1931. Either version is great, but I prefer the 1911 personally. This book has a thousand things to learn about that you’ve always wanted to know, and another thousand that you didn’t even know you wanted to know.

So, here’s how we used it this week.

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Stuff You Missed in Botany: Symbiosis

Stuff You Missed in Botany: Symbiosis

With all the talk of the Three Sisters planting, I couldn’t help but think that the appropriate Botany topic this week should be symbiosis.

From the Ancient Greek syn (together) biosis (life). As the German Mycologist Heinrich de Bary said, “the living together of two or more unlike organisms.”

For the purposes of a gardening blog, I’m going to focus on how different plants, growing together, help each other and fulfill the symbiotic relationship.

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Beware The Ides of March

Beware The Ides of March

Throwback Thursday is a time to shine a spotlight on one of our heirloom varieties in an attempt to

Bougainvillea on a villa

Bougainvillea on a Villa

introduce it to new gardeners or remind us of a long forgotten friend.

Today I’ll be talking about Bougainvillea. Family: Nyctaginaceae Genus: Bougainvillea

The perfect plant for hot areas, the bougainvillea shines above the…..

 

 

 

We interrupt this regularly scheduled programming to bring you breaking news!

Beware the Ides of March!

What Ides you say? I’ll tell you what ides. The big three ides…Fungicide…Herbicide…and (da da dum) Pesticide!

The bane of all that is good and holy in the garden!

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What Mother Never Told You About Weeds

What Mother Never Told You About Weeds

East Texas is bursting in to bloom. The Parsnip has a job preaching at a very small church in a little town south of us called New Summerfield. It’s a tiny town, boasting one stoplight, one gas station but no fewer than 40 greenhouses. I asked one of the locals about this, they said New Summerfield is the growing capital of Texas. I’m not sure if this is true, but I’ve seen evidence myself that it may be. They have a Color Spot house, a Bonnies Plant store, and family owned greenhouses a plenty. (Haha I went to the Chamber of Commerce page for New Summerfield—it is, indeed The Plant Capital of the South according to their web page population 998)

New Summerfield, TX Greenhouse

Greenhouse in New Summerfield

It’s a lovely drive and we really have enjoyed our times spent listening to podcasts and visiting with each other for the 35 to 40 minutes it takes to get there. So, get to the point, right? Okay. This past Sunday on our way to New Summerfield we saw field after field of the most beautiful yellow wildflowers.

Fields of Yellow on the way to New Summerfield

Saffron Fields on the way to New Summerfield

The Gunz family are no slouches when it comes to wildflower looking. We take the requisite “Bluebonnet” tour each year at Brenham and College Station. We do the Azalea Tour (okay that’s not a wildflower, but you get the point) in Tyler. We have driven far off the beaten path, yea, verily I say, off the path completely, to see some flower, plant, or tree. This is the first time we have seen this saffron sea as far as the eyes can see.

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A Tale of Two Critters

A Tale of Two Critters

They are the best of critters, they are the worst of critters.

I’m guilty. I am one of those people that think bunnies and deer are cute. Squirrels are adorable and foxes are precocious and clever. Birds are beautiful, bold and brash.

Oh how sweet...NOT!

Just adorable? I don't think so!

In the garden and hen yard, it’s an entirely different story. When you realize that these uninvited visitors are the cause of your poor yields, you get a reality check. Bunnies and deer are a detriment. Foxes and squirrels, savages to bulbs and chickens, and birds…must…be…BANISHED!

Some of this attitude stems from the fact that until quite recently, I have always lived pretty much in the middle of major cities. My gardens had a few unwanted visitors, armadillo, groundhogs and the occasional nuisance crow. Nothing like what I have now which is sixteen distinct beds, seven that back up to a heavily wooded area. Let’s just say I’ve put on my “critter beware” hat and I mean business.

You worked for those veggies! He's eating them.

So, what am I doing to stop the veggie carnage? My approach has a threefold structure. One, deter with some pretty low tech methods. Two, deter with a few things the garden uses anyway. And finally, break out the secret weapon.

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Busy Bees and other Busy Bodies

Busy Bees and other Busy Bodies

We’ve had the good bugs. We’ve seen the bad bugs. Now let’s talk about the busy bugs. These are the working force bugs of the garden. Their jobs entail pollination, security, and master chef’s cooking up compost to feed the hungry veg.

The Pollinators

I guess the most common in domestic gardens would be bees. Pollination comes about when the pollen from the male anthers of a plant is transported to the female stigma of the plant. Unless you have loads of time and patience and a steady hand with a cotton swab, you’re going to want lots of bees to come and do this job for you.

The next more commonly known pollinator is the butterfly.I happen to be highly allergic to bee stings, so I live in fearful admiration of these little guys every year. I’m pretty careful about what and where I grab and wear my goat skin gloves even if I’m just moving things around. Until this year my husband has asked me not to plant things that would intentionally attract bees to the yard. Last summer he saw that I was careful, and that unless you inadvertently grab them or step on them, they just want to be left alone to do their business. So this year I am planting bee friendly plants, I have my epi-pen ready just in case. I’m sure it will all be just fine. Notice in this picture, the bee is completely covered in pollen, what a good job he is doing!

The next pollinator is the butterfly. There are a gazillion kinds of butterflies and they are always welcome in the garden. They are so pretty fluttering around. Unfortunately, they also come with baggage. Before they get to be the floating, fairy like creatures so dainty and beautiful, they start out as very hungry caterpillars. I take issue with Eric Carle though, the caterpillars in my garden never want one green leaf. The caterpillars in my garden want to eat…well, my garden! They get tossed into the neighbors yard (it’s fine, she doesn’t garden…sorry Gwen). After the transformation, they are welcome to return to the Gunz’ property.

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