20 June 2011

Ashy gray

There have been an interesting sequence of insect events transpiring in our yard. As new leaves emerged on the shrubs this spring we observed an abundance of aphids. They seemed to be everywhere. But then we started seeing these critters:

fierce future ladybug

our knights in shining armor, the ladybug larvae. The aphids vanished.

Then the larvae started pupating, and we were finding things that looked like this all over our house.The larvae had done such a number on the aphids that it seemed they were lacking prey; we observed some larvae attacking and eating some ladybug pupae!

Fortunately the predation seemed minimal because now the ladybug adults are emerging and, lo and behold, the white pupae turned into this:

Ladybug Olla_IMG_0092

The Ashy Gray Lady Beetle. I had no idea such thing existed. So cool!

13 June 2011

Quick garden update: 13 June

The garden is looking lush, green and awesome. The potato beetles have found our lone ground cherry plant, so every time we go I squash a couple egg masses and 2-6 potato beetle larvae on that plant. They're avoiding the peppers, and have only shown up on one of the potato-leaf tomato plants so far. I'm hoping it stays that way.

The onions are getting bigger and we've started thinning them, using the picked ones in dinners.

We also had our first ripe strawberry, tiny though it was.

It's nice to be bringing things home from the garden, feeling like it's starting to produce more.

10 June 2011

I spy...

Last weekend J and I were sitting in the yard, watching the kids and enjoying a mellow morning. I looked up at one of our oak trees, the diseased one with a butt rot that seems to still be fairly healthy so far. Looking at just the right angle I saw something.

Look closely. See anything?

I looked closer, I changed angles. J pulled out the spotting scope and set it up across the street. Yes! I was right! We have...

...a feral honybee colony in our tree! I am very excited and hopeful for these ladies, and will keep an eye on them over the summer. Yay honeybees!

09 June 2011

Red-spotted Purple

Doodle found a winged friend yesterday at Shingletown Gap.

It's a Red-spotted Purple (Limenitis arthemis astyanax) - such a perfect name for my purple-loving girl.

Practically summer

Yesterday it was 91° here. We were roasting. J pulled out a tarp and the hose, and this is what happened:

Welcome to Summer!

06 June 2011

Cooper's Rock

Over Memorial Day weekend we went down to Cooper's Rock, WV for a short camping and bouldering outing with some friends. The weather was great, the company awesome, and the area beautiful. We were all glad to get outside and get in our first camping trip of the season.

Doodle found a whole bunch of these large millipedes which kept her and Roo entertained for much of the bouldering sessions. Very cool critters. I think it'd be fun to get back to Cooper's Rock again sometime.

04 June 2011

Weekly garden update: 4 June

Current garden layout. Shouldn't change much from here on out.

Another week, another garden update. This past week was hot and dry (93°!) so the kids and I hauled watering cans to water the tomatoes, peppers, herbs and peas twice this week. We headed to the garden with J yesterday, planning to do some weeding and watering. Turned out we didn't have to water - we got hit with a downpour about 15 minutes after arriving.

Doodle and Roo marveling at the thunder and rain; J all wet.

Kids and I hid in the picnic shelter right next to the garden while J finished planting some free seedlings we picked up: another Sungold tomato, some basil and oregano. We also harvested the last four stalks of bok choy, as it was being munched by flea beetles and getting pretty big. It was a lot of leafy greens to have all at once, so we decided to try our hand at making bok choy kimchee. If it turns out any good I'll be sure to post something about it.

I think we're finally (maybe?) done adding to the garden. The beans were being devoured as they sprouted, so we put two more tomato plants in their place. (We now have 17 tomato plants in the garden plus three at home.) There's not much room left to add anything, so at this point I think we're switching to strictly maintenance and care mode. Next to harvest from the garden: a few green onions, some herbs, strawberries soon, and hopefully some peas will start blooming next.