Saturday, May 23, 2015

Luck be a ladybug

Yesterday I got a phone call from a fellow FoodPrints teacher that went something like this:

"One of the teachers accidentally ordered too many ladybugs for our garden. Want some?"

"Sure. It'd be great to knock down the aphid population over here."

"Great. There's about 5,000 of them. One of the parents will drop off the box in the main office. Put them in the fridge for a week if you aren't ready to release them yet."

"Oh. Okay." (Who orders five thousand too many? And is it normal to keep live beetles in the fridge on purpose? I wondered. But I am not one to look a giftbug in the mouth.)

I've ordered worms in the mail before -- three times, actually (and, no, not because I killed the first two batches, thank you very much) -- so I consider myself pretty experienced when it comes to the creepy crawly package opening. I could not have prepared myself for the tickly joy that was the release of thousands of ladybugs in the garden that afternoon. And since I had opted not to refrigerate them back into hibernation, they were ready to go as soon as I opened the two little baggies they were packed into. I was fortunate to have many dedicated garden assistants to help gently spread them around the 15 raised garden beds at Tyler.

Go get 'em, ladybugs!!

They are the coolest, cutest aphid devouring machines EVER.

Monday, May 18, 2015


It's been awhile since I've written. Lest you think I've been sitting around eating bonbons for the past month, let me assure you that this is not the case. It's springtime at last, and I've been up to my elbows in teaching, gardening, lesson planning, cooking, spring cleaning, watching the Nats, and watching the garden like a hawk for any pests that might get the misguided impression that I am growing food for them. Apparently the leaf miners in my spinach and chard patches are slow learners. And it seems he squirrels eyeing my strawberries were not deterred by my incessant swearing at them last summer. They're back.

I recently learned from a naturalist friend of mine that rodents don't take a big bite out of my homegrown, hard won cherry tomatoes and strawberries purely because they are jerks, but because they are seeking moisture during dry times. So I'm doing a little -- admittedly high-risk -- experiment to see if tonight's thunderstorms tide them over for a day or two. Otherwise I may have to break out the grilled squirrel recipe....