Thursday, June 27, 2013

Heat, the garden, and bugs.

As we get in to summer, the solstice having passed a week ago, we're starting to see more bugs. Flies, ticks, spiders, and other critters. The pest type ones are definitely part of why we have chickens, though they aren't yet at the age we can let them roam and do bug control out of their run.

The Lady of the House has been enjoying going and getting photos of the chickens, though they haven't fully gotten to trust us yet. We deliberately got some of the more "wild type" chickens since they're better at foraging, but that comes with less naturally trusting of humans, and less docile. So far they haven't completely destroyed their run area yet so we are letting then just enjoy it. We haven't had predator problems yet, but that is just a matter of time. On the up side though, as you can see in the picture Left Rico our dog isn't really a problem with the chickens off leash. He is very interested in them but isn't barking or lunging, and only starts to run after them when he's already wound up and they're already fluttering. We're still working on fully desensitizing him to them, and the other way around but one step at a time is still good progress for us as first timers. We're going to need to get a bigger and better chicken feeder for them soon, one that we can hang so they don't scratch shavings into the feeder, and stand on top of it to try to monopolize it the way they have been. It doesn't really work very well, but we'd like to discourage the behavior.
Now to the garden,  starting with the tomatoes which are the big example of being affected by the heat. They have been absolutely loving the heat, and have really shot up over the past few days. The biggest ones are getting far larger, and have already started putting out flowers which will become tomatoes. The smaller ones are still struggling in some cases, but even there they are doing fairly well as far as it goes. I'm looking forward to them really flourishing, and our first tomatoes from our garden.
The tomatoes aren't the only things that have been flowering. The radishes and lettuce have been bolting, though surprisingly enough, not the Kale yet. With the radishes we are still pulling up the ones that look good to eat since bolting just means they're a bit spicier which isn't a problem for us. We're deciding which ones we want to save seeds from, but that's a whole different topic and we aren't quite sure yet.

We have our first non slug pest trying to devour our growing plants. Can you see it Left? we only spotted it because my response to the holes appearing in the leaves was to investigate closely, and try to figure out why birds were pooping on the plant in such volume. Turns out it isn't bird poop, it's a somewhat unusual pest, the Clavate Tortoise Beetle. These ladies from Toronto on their blog back in 2011 talked about them. It looks like how we instinctively reacted to them is effective. We just picked them off with fingernail under the shell and deposited them in a glass of water. They're an odd sort of critter that are very flat, and fairly innocuous. They didn't really even try to run away when we were removing them. I got a couple close shots of them to show people what they look like in case anyone else has them in their gardens near by. But that's not the only interesting bug today, if you have arachnophobia stop here since below we will have a spider picture.

Below is the Venusta Orchard Spider. At this point it is a fairly small spider that has taken its place between two of our rabbit hutches, doubtless to devour the flying critters that want to eat rabbit food and droppings. I'm glad to see spiders in the area since they cut down on our harmful bug population. The Lady of the House on the other hand, will never be happy to see spiders. So, signing off for the week, I hope you all have a good weekend and good growing.


  1. My mother has similar spider issues, although we had about 7 of the large yellow garden spiders last year that she left well enough alone so long as they didn't set up streamers over the path.

  2. At least your spiders are staying outside! We made a deal: stay out of the kitchen and away from us and we let them be. (Occasionally we sic the cat on one, but she's incompetent.)

    As for those flat bugs; when we first moved to MA we got them on the basil. My mom sewed some tents out of green mesh (they went all the way to the ground) to keep them off. I don't know what she uses now (insecticidal soap?) but I don't think they've been an issue in a while.