Saturday, June 20, 2009

Ice Cream Fridae

I spent the best part of the day on Friday hanging out with Jen, Avery, & Paige. We had talked about going to the beach or doing something special but decided to stay inside (good beach day for ducks, not people). It was a good decision. We read books, played games, and watched Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer (yes, I sang along). I brought Miss Paige a doll stroller that she instantly fell in love with, and Avery & I read a book about Babe Ruth- and both learned a lot about this baseball legend. After lunch, we declared it an ice-cream-party day (I brought lots of fixins) and each assembled the sundae of our choice. It was a wonderful day. If I were a really good gramma I would have taken photos instead of borrowing this one from, instead I spent all my time soaking in smiles, words, Avery-isms, and Paige-xpressions. I'll try to do better on the photos next time!

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Newest Addition...

Meet one of the newest additions to the Green gardens - one of 70 or so Latham raspberry plants donated by my mom & dad. We spent a good part of a recent weekend pulling rocks and stumps, tilling the soil to reveal more rocks and roots to pull, and tilling again with the little Mantis to find yet more rocks and roots. The result is a nice plot for a berry garden.
My dad had postponed tilling the path between his raspberries until we got over there to pull up the new shoots (thank you dad). Saturday morning we dug enough to fill a large bucket, and spent the afternoon setting them into the soil (pulling, yes, more rocks and roots). We'll be adding posts and wire supports next.
Thankfully, we are receiving a good amount of rain that is soaking into the soil. It looks like all the plants have recovered from the shock of moving... just a few wilty leaves on a few plants. So, we have two double rows of plants which will have posts and wire supports set soon. And there is still room in the new garden - we'll try transplanting a few wild blackberries, wild blueberries, and wild strawberries, attempting to cultivate them somewhat. These will quite likely never produce giant fruit like the nursery grown varieties, but they will hopefully produce some very delicious berries that have a wilder sweetness.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Japanese Beetles

'Tis the season for Japanese beetles. I'd been planning on picking up a fresh bag and new bait for the trap, but haven't made the trip to the store yet. Earlier in the week I picked some irises, lilies, and yarrow from the garden for a table bouquet, after carefully checking for beetles and finding none. This morning, as I walked by the garden, I realized they were here. I'm not sure if I could smell the beetles, or if it was the sweet smell of the irises, but my senses were alerted. It didn't take more than a glance to see the invaders. I'd even made some pepper water last night, thinking I'd probably need it soon- good timing! I sprayed the flowers, and started picking off the infested blooms until I realized there were SO MANY. What to do?
I came inside, poured another cup of coffee, and got online. I read nothing about red pepper water (my own concoction that I've used with success in the vegetable garden) but I did find out that soap water can be an effective deterrent. I also found out that the traps are controversial. They do trap the beetles, but the pheromones actually attract beetles to the area so you might get more than just the resident beetles. I also read that the beetles are pretty much around all the time at different stages of their life cycle.
The adults come out early to mid-June around here and have particular preferences of flowers and plants. Females will leave the blooms and make their way down to the soil where they lay their eggs before returning to the blossoms and leaves where they munch away, skeletonizing the leaves, leaving only the veins. They repeat this through the summer and sometimes lay as many as 60 eggs or so. When the eggs hatch, they go through several instars (cycles), including a little white grub worm stage. These become more evident late summer and you can dig up small patches of sod to see if they're there. They stay in the soil all year, sometimes taking two years to complete their full life cycle depending on the climate conditions.
So, my garden has been soaped because I decided against getting the traps set up. There is a bacteria that is effective, but it is costly and takes 3-5 years to completely manage the Japanese beetle population- you never really get rid of them, only manage them. Their northern range runs through central Maine, so right now they aren't as bad as they are in other areas. A close inspection of my mom's irises this morning revealed none and she's just 5 miles from us. Diligent attention to the garden might keep them under some level of control this year, we hope.
In other news, we put in over 70 raspberry plants in the new berry garden! It's nice to have some time to spend around the yard this summer.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Bridgton Community Contradance

Saturday night we had the opportunity to call at the Bridgton Community Contradance. It was our first time down that way, mainly because we thought it would be a really long drive. Turns out not to be that far away, relatively speaking... just over an hour. This dance is new - but the organization and energy poured into it can be seen and felt as soon as you walk in. A lot of super nice touches like stringing mini-lights around the hall, tables with tablecloths and fresh flowers and candles, free popcorn and refreshments, and a low admission price all work together to make this THE place to be if you're anywhere around the Bridgton area on 5th Saturdays. Tunes by Perpetual e-Motion keep the dancers on the floor until the very end of the evening. We felt fortunate to have been invited to call, and look forward to going back again- to call or to dance!