June 23, 2009

Hosta-munching Slugs

I am beginning to notice the signs of slimy invaders munching around my garden at night. I've looked up some organic methods of slug control to try. The most common method seems to be to bury a jar or bottle with about an inch of beer in the bottom. The slugs are attracted to the fermenting beer and climb in for a taste, drowning in the brew.

While this must be at least somewhat effective due to the number of sources that recommend it, I found another method that is a little more appealing to me than removing jars of slimy drowned slugs - that is, if it works. Supposedly, caffeinated coffee grounds applied to the earth surrounding the plant will also kill the slugs. A caffeine spray may work as well. I'll give the ol' coffee method a go, and if need be I'll try the beer method.

Click here for more organic methods to control slugs.

Have any ideas of your own to add?

June 21, 2009

A Pretty Pest In The Garden

Over the weekend I found a couple pretty green and black bugs on my Fall Chrysanthemum. There were black spots covering the leaves on which they stood. I took a picture to use for identification and came across an article on them from the Michigan State University IPM News page.

Apparently these little buggers can be quite a nuisance. They use their piercing mouthparts to suck juices out of the plant, causing damage to the leaves and essentially killing the plant.

Some mothods of control are manual removal, and controlling weedy hosts. Applications of pesticides can also be used. Here are some that may be used:

Pesticides: Acephate, Pyrethroids, Chlorpyrifos, Cyfluthrin, Fluvalinate, Malathion
Organic pesticides: Horticultural Oil, Insecticidal Soap, Pyrethrum
Biocontrols (microscopic): Beauveria
Timing: Apply sprays in late spring or early summer, monitor in mid to late spring.

June 09, 2009

Volunteer Opportunities!

I have recently come across a volunteer opportunity that I am really excited to take part in. The local Michigan State Parks are, with the help of volunteers, removing invasive species and replenishiing native species. For more information on volunteer workdays in Michigan, check out the volunteer schedule on the DNR website.

My first volunteer day is going to be June 27th, as I help remove invasive garlic mustard from a nearby State Park. I'll be sure to report back on how it goes and what else I learn about the volunteer program!

For those with busy schedules, such as myself, there is training available to help people set up individual volunteer projects that can be done on your own, such as native seed collecting, monitoring bug population numbers, invasive plant mapping, or setting up and promoting volunteer workdays. To learn more, check out the Core Volunteer Steward Program.

To find volunteer opportunities in another state, try checking the volunteer page on The Nature Conservancy's website.

This is a great way to help preserve and protect the natural areas that I hope you are all getting a chance to get to out and enjoy!

Blooms, blooms, blooms!

Well, with two catalog orders now in the ground, and one additional purchase from a local plant seller, the garden is really starting to kick things off with some beautiful flowers! There is still a lot of filling out for my little plants to do, but all in good time. I am so pleased with the plants I have acquired!

The Allium show has just about come to an end. The final blooms are just begininng to wane. Now that the garden area around them has more plant life, I plan on relocating these so they are no longer lining the fence. It just looks wierd with the more relaxed layout of the rest of the bed.
The flower bed now contains Purple Coneflower, Painted Daisies, Shasta Daisies, some beautiful and dainty Arctic Fire Dianthus that I absolutely LOVE (left), Russian Sage, Red Creeping Sedum, Japanese Blood Grass, two colors of Coreopsis - one red one yellow (yellow pictured below).... I found a couple of plants that I hadn't heard of that I have completely fallen in love with. One of these is Gaura, (Gaura lindheimeri). The variegated leaves are beautiful on its irregular upright shape, and each stalk is topped with the most elegant flowers in shades of pink and white. It is now one of my favorites!

The Orchid Frost Lamium is beginning to take off around the pond. I love the foam green leaves and pretty pink flowers. I've also added Korean Feather Reed Grass, Bleeding Hearts, Ajuga, and Liriope to help fill in around the pond. I think I may also transplant some Vinca from other parts of the yard to help fill it in. It is just so shady and weedy back there, but I don't dare pull all the weeds yet or it will really look bare!
As well as new additions, I have also done some rearranging around the pond. My Caladium seemed to be getting scorched, so I moved it back and put the little autumn-toned Geranium in its place. Both seem to be happy so far in their new locations.
I had ordered a beautiful Monet Coralbell that I put back there, but it completely withered. I'm wondering if it was due to lack of sun, so I have moved it forward to an area where another coral bell of mine is thriving. I hope it comes back! It was one of the plants I was most looking forward to!