Monday, May 18, 2015

Predatory Ladybird Larvae

This is a Ladybird larvae that I noticed in the greenhouse today sitting on one of my basil plants. Ladybird larvae have a weird alligator like shape, but are actually baby ladybugs. Their body is long and pointed like that of alligators and their legs and shape is also very similar to an alligator. The ladybugs go through four different phases - egg, larval, pupal and adult stages. They eventually turn into fully grown adult ladybugs. The larvae continuously feed for one month before entering the pupa stage and they eat 10 times the number of bugs than and adult ladybug does. Larvae of predator ladybugs instantly start to feed on the other insects that are usually available near their habitat. In this case, aphids!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Caught in the act!

One of my morning rituals is to walk the entire garden. The earlier in the morning the better! With coffee in hand and camera in my pocket I find this is the best part of the day for pictures, followed closely by dusk. In photography, this is the golden hour (sometimes known as magic hour). It is a period shortly after sunrise or before sunset during which daylight is redder and softer compared to when the sun is higher in the sky. In addition to this benefit, the garden is simply waking up and the bugs and critters are scurrying to their nearest hiding place for the day. This brings me to the purpose of this post. 

It is always beneficial when you know exactly what is eating your plants in order to avoid using heroic measures to eradicate a pest that is not responsible for damage, or is even beneficial to your garden. This has been the case lately.  

Aside from one small slug and a green cabbage worm, I caught two baby grasshopper nymphs feasting on a breakfast of bock choy. As you can see these critters have been at this for some time now. I'm not sure how I missed this. The lettuce beds are always covered with a light shade cover, so in the past I did not always take a quick peak. I certainly do now. 

After a bit of research and careful evaluation of online images, it seems the slug, the cabbage worm and the grasshoppers can all cause this damage. Therefore I am treating them all with the organic weapons I can live with, and not weapons of mass destruction. 

These are only a few of the pests that an organic gardener deals with. There are the aphids, leaf miners and earwigs. More details on my full arsenal in another post. 

Bon App├ętit!

Even though the leaves are riddled with holes, they still make for a great smoothie. Why wouldn't they? Everybody seems to love them. 

Monday, May 4, 2015

Rhubarb Pie

From my experience, not many people care much for rhubarb. I love rhubarb and am always thrilled to see it return every year - introducing spring and the beginning of our gardening season. This rhubarb plant was here when we moved in over 10 years ago and it never disappoints me. I believe there are a total of three crowns that make up this large plant and I love the texture and the vibrant green color of the leaves.

The first harvest makes the very best Rhubarb custard  pie. This pie tops my list of pies and it is not generally one you will find at Marie Calendars. This recipe is from my grandmother and is the best pie ever.

For those of you who love rhubarb, here is the recipe to try. Let me know how you like it. 

Rhubarb Pie

1 ½ C. rhubarb
1 C. sugar
1 T. four
½ t. salt
2 egg yolks slightly beaten
2/3 C. evaporated milk 
1/3 C. water
Dash of nutmeg
1 T. butter (melted)

2 pie shells

Mix the rhubarb, sugar, flour, nutmeg and salt together. Then mix the egg yolks with the milk and water. Then combine all together in a bowl and pour into an unbaked pie shell. Make the lattice top and bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes; 350 degrees for 30 minutes until set. This is good with vanilla ice cream.

Grandma Rosalie Egerman