One of the hardest things about being an international gardener is knowing your friends and foes. Somethings are the same everywhere, but every country has its own noxious weeds, pests, and beneficial friends. It is a hefty learning curve knowing what to grow and how to care for it every time we move country (or sometimes even region). Since we are working on greener gardening, battling fungal diseases in our new home garden throughout our wet winter/spring and, now that things are warming, an onslaught of hungry insects is proving to be more difficult that expected. Advice welcome! How do you keep your green garden healthy?
Some insects are easy to identify, although they can still catch me by surprise! The first time I encountered a weta, I nearly jumped out of my skin, but these rather unique guests are welcome in our garden anytime. Less welcome are the aphids which seem to have a particular liking for the old heritage roses inherited from the original garden and are now eyeing my young edibles. Of course, with the aphids come the army of honeydew hunting ants. Although they may not be directly harming the garden, ants will try to protect aphids and scale from predatory insects which is not welcome behavior around here. Other ants are helpful predators, so its hard to tell who your friends are sometimes! I have beneficial garden friends hard at work helping with my battle of the bugs, like my favourite little ladybugs (sometimes classic red and black Eleven-Spotted Ladybirds, sometimes a beautiful metallic blue Steelblue Ladybirds), praying mantids, and (of course) spiders. Sometimes I have no idea what's on, in, or eating my plants...and that's where my books and the internet are an invaluable help! I would hate to be unknowingly squishing or spot treating any beneficials - I can use all the help I can get around here! These little bronze beetles were not only eating the leaves on my berry bushes, but when I inspected at dusk to snap a picture for follow-on ID check, these unwitting specimens seemed to be working on a new generation. Not cool...unlike the time I caught some monarchs in the act - go monarchs! To add insult to garden injury, elsewhere in the garden something has already started snacking on my new lettuce. Sigh...
Of course, alongside the inevitable challenges there is garden goodness everywhere, too. Our berries are developing despite their insect invaders, the roses are in full bloom, and things are greening up and filling in throughout the garden. It took me three days of solid weeding to get things into some semblance of shape - the great growing weather has its upsides and downsides. If only the desirables were as vigorous as the weeds! Our newly planted fruit trees won't produce this year, but our neighbor's feijoa (love those festive blossoms!), which dangles over our fence delivering neighbourly fruity freebies, is in full flower signaling a promising shared harvest ahead.
What's happening in and around your garden this week? Whatever your garden/green news, we would love to hear about it. Please leave a comment or post us a message on the GiRL Facebook page. I look forward to sharing our garden with you as it grows.