Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Big Bad Bugs

Just as I thought the garden would descend quietly into winter, I took a look under the leaves, on woody stems, and in the nooks and crannies of the garden and found the dreaded pests! Those obnoxious eaters of garden vegetables, decimators of lovely limbs and beautiful flowers - they are everywhere it would seem! 

First, I noticed caterpillars in the butterfly garden. Now, this in itself is not a big concern. It is a butterfly bed, for crying out loud. So, I should expect (and hope for no less) some caterpillars to overwinter and gestate the designated spot I created for them. The are only holing up in my butterfly bush (how appropriate) and not eating any of my winter vegetables or annual and perennial flowers. This I can grudgingly accept, although I doubt the birds will extend them the same courtesy.

Next I noticed my blue hibiscus, normally so hardy and healthy, dropping yellow and brown leaves into my lavender. I peered deeper into the heart of the plant only to discover ugly, beetle-like, unmoving bugs covering the woody branches and trunk of the shrub. Quel horreur! It looked like these disgusting things were sucking the poor plant dry. Ants also covered the affected branches. I did my due diligence research and found them to be lecanium scale. I removed the damaged branches forcibly with my handy pruners and scraped the evil things off the trunk with a gloved hand. I will need to follow up with an insecticidal oil soap soon to root out any hangers on and prevent a re-infestation. 

Slugs are the bane of every gardener, especially the vegetable gardener. My defense so far has been no defense; I expect a few casualties now and again. It is the price to pay when you attempt (semi) organic gardening. I am debating trying out the beer trick; supposedly if you place a shallow dish of beer in your vegetable beds, the slugs will be attracted to it, then fall into the dish and die an inebriated (and hopefully happy) death. This sounds like an old wives tale to me, but I may have to try it. I am tired of them eating my Swiss chard (pictured), lettuces, cabbage, radishes, and flowers.

My poor roses are infected with orange rust yet again! Time to remove foliage and spray. I can complete a drastic prune as the season turns to winter, but I do not want to lose my gorgeous blooms until the plants go into semi-dormancy. This would not be such a problem if my infuriating neighbor took care of his roses - they keep re-infecting mine! Since the are growing onto my property, I will give them a good whack this weekend - Hah!

On a happier note, Hubby and I are endeavoring to continue cooking with ingredients from the garden. To that end, I have been researching new recipes to utilize what we have on-hand. Below is a cannellini bean soup made with home grown Swiss chard, basil, and sage. Delicious! 

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