(The sunflowers have taken over!)
Then someone cut the heads from some of our largest sunflowers
Alex my 15 year old birder put up signs all over.
“Don’t Cut the Flowers! We are watching you!”
Oddly enough, it appears to have worked.
Still, someone has been taking the green tomatoes, crushing them, and removing melons before they can ripen.
… We put out this message in English and Spanish
Dear folks who are taking green tomatoes and unripe melons from our garden.
We know you must be very sad and angry to want to hurt our plants.
We are very sorry that you feel so bad.
If you will just let everything ripen, then you could eat it.
We’d MUCH rather you enjoyed it rather than destroyed it…
We want you to enjoy the garden too!
Thanks, The Children Gardeners
The Spanish version is MUCH longer and more elaborately worded.
However, we have some very exciting developments.
First, not only do we have myriad ladybug, we also have lady bug eggs and larva!
We have actually seen ladybugs emerge from the pupas!
In the spring, the adults lay up to three hundred eggs in an aphid colony. The eggs hatch in two to five days. The time it takes for a ladybug egg to hatch and become an adult takes about 3 to 6 weeks.
Ladybug eggs are very small, yellow ovals. Ladybugs lay their eggs on the undersides of leaves to keep them protected from predators.
Baby ladybugs (ladybug larvae) are rather creepy looking, but now that the kids know what they are they love ‘em.
Baby ladybugs spend their days eating and eating and eating, then they have a snack and eat some more! They can eat up to 400 aphids in 2 to 3 weeks . The newly hatched larvae feed on aphids for up to three weeks, and then they enter the pupa stage. After the babies have filled their little bellies and grown a bit, they attach themselves to a leaf and pupate. This is the transition stage when in about a week they will turn into a beautiful little adult ladybug the adult ladybug emerges about a week later. However, they usually do not have their spots for their first 24 hours of adulthood. So, if you see one without spots, you may have found a brand new adult.
Genesis is a brilliant, sweet child. She is lacking legs and a thumb, but her warmth, humor and intelligence win all. She discovered our first hatchling. It was very pale.
There may be as many as six generations of ladybugs hatched in a year.
Ladybugs are a kind of beetle. The female ladybug is usually larger than the male. Most of them have red, orange, or yellow elytra (wing covers) and black spots. Some are black with red spots and some ladybugs have no spots at all! The number of spots helps to identify the kind of ladybug. The elytra is a hard wing cover that protects the ladybug’s fragile wings. All beetles have elytra. Ladybug’s wings are so thin that you can see through them.
The pronotum is found just behind the ladybug’s head and it often has spots on it. It helps to hide and protect the head. Like all insects, the ladybug has six jointed legs. There are special organs on their feet to help them smell. (Butterflies & Bees smell with their feet too.) The ladybug uses its antennae to touch, smell and taste.
We also have aphids. I have found that if you have milkweed (which I always do as it is the host plant for Monarch caterpillars and butterflies.) The aphids remain there. We have Oleander aphids, which are orange. There are many species of aphids… and I imagine they are numerous as the stars that shine & twinkle in the milky way… ours slime & stinkle on the milky weed. (That’s poetic license actually, they don’t smell.)
Host plants are restricted to oleander, butterfly weed and milkweed. Aphids spend most of their lives with their straw-like beaks stuck into leaves and stems, sucking out sweet plant juices. But, aphids do not usually cause plant health to suffer. The up side is, is that if you have aphids ladybugs will follow.
When I showed up at the garden yesterday, many of the sunflowers were beheaded. I was feeling a tad depressed when I ran into one of the dads.
“Miss Elizabeth,” he exclaimed with pride. “I cut the flowers so they will be healthy and branch more!”
Well, while that works for some plants sunflowers aren’t one of them. Still, it’s better than vandals!
The kids and I ate some of the seed that were ripe.
We gathered tropic oregano, rosemary, lemon balm, spearmint and chocolate mint for them to take home for cooking and tea.
Plectranthus amboinicus is a succulent that smells and tastes like very strong oregano. The leaves have also had many traditional medicinal uses; treatment of coughs, sore throats, nasal congestion, infections, rheumatism and flatulence. In Indonesia Plectranthus amboinicus is a used in soup to stimulate lactation for the month or so following childbirth.
A Journalism student from USC stopped by and wants to do a story on us (YEAH!) He promised to return Saturday. He had a British accent, so the kids were properly impressed.