Tag Archives: Gardening

Ladybug Hunting

27 Feb
Sweet Little Ladybug On My Julia Child Rosebush.

Sweet Little Ladybug On My Julia Child Rosebush.

As much as i like this shrub, it's got to go. It attracts too many wasps and horseflies close to the house.

This shrub has got to go. It attracts too many wasps and horseflies close to the house.

The shrub pictured at left attracts far too many wasps and horseflies, so it’s coming out tomorrow. In its place, my beloved mandarin orange tree will take up new residence.

Trouble is, this Japanese Yew has also been serving as home to a large family of ladybugs. As any gardener knows, ladybugs are wonderful outdoor friends. Not only are they delightfully cute, but they also devour menacing pests such as aphids, which commonly wreak havoc upon roses, hydrangeas, and other beautiful plants.

So this morning, I took my son ladybug hunting. He is almost two now and completely fascinated by these delightful creatures. Our goal was to capture as many as we could find before they are evicted tomorrow. We plan to relocate them elsewhere in our garden by week’s end. With temperatures in the low 40’s, the ladybugs were dormant, so it was the perfect time to catch them. I captured at least two dozen and placed them in a clear plastic container with small air holes, which I immediately transferred to the refrigerator. The refrigerator maintains the same temperature the ladybugs were being exposed to outside. This approach does not harm the ladybugs and will keep them asleep for a couple of days until the weather warms again.

Later this week, I will release the ladybugs into my rose garden, which I hope will be a happy new home for them.

If you’re wondering how to attract ladybugs to your garden, you can actually purchase them at some plant nurseries. They will likely be refrigerated when you acquire them and may even look dead, but they’re not. They are simply asleep. In fact, they may start moving around as they start to warm up. When you get home, immediately place the ladybugs in the refrigerator until you’re ready to release them. The best time to release ladybugs is dusk, since they don’t travel at night. If you release them during the day, they may leave your yard in search of food and may not return.

Looking for more outdoor tips this Spring? Take a look at my Quick-Start Guide to Gardening in 5 Easy Steps.

Happy Outdoor Living!

P.S. Happy 48th Anniversary, Mom and Dad! I love you!

Quick-Start Guide To Gardening in 5 Easy Steps

21 Apr

My first attempt at gardening was not fruitful. Nearly everything that I planted died within a few weeks.

The only plants that survived were some beautiful multi-colored impatiens planted in a shady spot under an oak tree in our front yard. These lovely lollipop flowers lasted about two weeks, until the deer discovered the tasty treat.

If you’re new to gardening and don’t know where to start, here are some key things I’ve discovered that will accelerate your learning and your enjoyment in your garden.

I purchased these newly-revived daisies on clearance for 75 cents each because they were near death. A little TLC and they are performing beautifully.

5 questions you should ask prior to planting anything:

What zone do I live in?

Geographies are categorized by zones, if you live in the U.S. The difference between one zone and another is determined by both the warmest and the coldest temperatures that particular region typically experiences in a given year, referred to as “plant hardiness”.

Knowing what zone you live in will help you to determine which plants will do best in-ground, in containers, or maybe not at all in your region.

You can find your zone by visiting the USDA Plant Zone Map.

What is my soil type?

This one piece of information completely changed my gardening experience and has given me so much more confidence  in gardening.

In our area, the soil is clay-like and has poor drainage. Drainage refers to how quickly water is absorbed into the soil. Most plants need good drainage in order to survive, otherwise the roots become saturated with water and rot.

A quick test you can conduct is to spray an area with a hose until it begins to saturate. If the water disappears quickly, you have good soil drainage. If you see water “pooling”, your soil drainage is poor.

You can get really technical with soil types to determine if it’s alkaline or acidic. You can purchase a kit or take a soil sample in to a local plant nursery for them to test it. I’ve never done this. However, I did ask a local nursery how to change (you’ll hear this referred to as “amending”) the soil.

In my case, the soil needs acid to break up the clay. I purchased some acidified compost, which completely changed the soil in a flower bed that was drowning in pooling water. I removed all of the bushes, amended the soil, and now enjoy some fabulous roses in that bed. I will need to continue to add compost to it every few years, as the roses will absorb the nutrients in the soil. If left untouched, the soil will eventually resort back to clay.

Based on what part of town you live in, you should be able to discover what your soil type most likely is by visiting your local nursery.

Are there native plants I can use in my garden? Continue reading