Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Natural Aphids Insect Control

Aphid on plant stem
Stop aphids from sucking the life out of your plants with natural insect control.  Aphids are a garden insect that eat the sap from leaves and stems of plants. The best way to determine if your garden is infected with aphids is to examine the backside of  plant leaves for a very small (1/18 inch) pear shaped bug that may be green, black or red in color. 

Look closely at the leaves of your plants, and if you see white or light green dots, all over the backside of the leaf then this is an indication that these annoying little aphids are sucking the sap from your plant.  It is best to act fast in killing the aphids as they are very destructive.  

You can kill aphids with a  commercial insecticide or you can remove pests from your garden naturally with ladybugs. If you choose natural ladybugs for the removal of aphids then you can achieve this method of pest control by attracting the ladybug to your garden naturally or by buying ladybugs.  

 Ladybugs are small beetles. They are about the size of a pea and come in bright colors such as red and orange with black dots. This little beetle is a natural way to control various insects in your yard and garden. 

Purchase starter ladybugs at your garden supply center. For a medium size garden, you will need 1500 ladybugs. Release the ladybugs into your garden to control spider mites, aphids, whiteflies, and scale insects. Keep the ladybugs in your yard by planting nectar or pollen-producing flowers; marigold, sunflower, garden mint, fennel, dill, fern-leaf yarrow, coneflowers, bee balm and white daisies.   

Water your gardens daily so that your ladybug will have access to hydration from the droplets of water on the leaves. Also, add a water feature or a birdbath to your garden. Check the water in the birdbath or water feature daily.  Clean the water by removing debris; feathers, leaves and then fill the birdbath with fresh clean water. Keep the ladybug in your garden all year round by providing a comfortable winter area. Ladybugs winter under rocks, leaves, bark and hedges. 

  • Ladybugs are a must for organic gardeners
  • Some ladybugs are harmful to specific crops, such as beans, melons squash. They are The Mexican beetle This beetle has an elongated body and the colors are the same as the ladybug.

    Sunday, August 14, 2011

    Grow Lobelia Cardinal Flower

    Lobelia commonly called cardinal flower is an orchid-like red wildflower that is native to the woodland areas in North America.

    I first discovered this woodland flower while hiking in the valley just bellow the ridge where our home resides. The flower was growing close to the banks of a stream and I noted that it attracted butterflies and the red throat hummingbirds.  I used a spoon to loosen the soil around the stem.  The roots were close to the soil surface and the plant was easy to dig up.  I quickly returned home so that I could transplant the Lobelia cardinal flower to my garden. I planted the cardinal flowers to the back border of my part sun to shade garden.  The following year I had many cardinal flowers blooming in my garden.  The one plant self seeded and I also planted additional seeds in spring.

    Cardinal flower looks good growing in the back border of your garden as the stems can reach the height of 3 to 4 feet.  You can also grow it with assorted wildflowers in a woodland setting.  Flowers bloom in late summer and will continue to bloom well into autumn or until the end of season frost.
    Cardinal flower growing along stream: Wikipedia commons

    Where to Grow
    Grow cardinal flower in zones 3 to 8.  Choose a garden site that has sun to part shade.  Also select an area where the soil is evenly moist but not wet. 
    When to Plant
    Plant the seeds outside in May or June when the ground warms to 74 degrees.

    Get the garden site ready for planting. Remove the sod, weeds and all debris.  Loosen the soil to one foot.  Break up the clumps of soil so that soil is fine.

    Planting Seed in Masses: 
    Mix the seeds with compost or manure.  Place the compost in a wheelbarrow and add water.  The compost should be moist, not wet.  Mix the seeds into the compost.   Add other wildflower seeds to the compost if you are planting a prairie garden.

    Scoop up the compost and place it on the soil.  Rake the compost into the fine soil. Cover the seeds with soil to the depth of a half inch.

    Planting Seeds for Small Gardens:
    Use the eraser end of a pencil to dig holes in the soil that are a half inch deep.  Space the seeds a foot apart.  Set the seed in the center of the hole and cover the hole with the soil.

    Care for Lobelia Cardinal Flowers:
    Apply a thin layer of grass clippings or mulch around the plant stems.  This organic mulch will aid in retaining moisture and will deter weed growth. Water the cardinal flower every morning with a dripline irrigation or with a soaker hose.

    • Keep the soil evenly moist.  Water the cardinal flowers twice a day in the morning and late afternoon when the temperature exceeds 90 degrees. Keeping the soil evenly moist will ensure that your flowers are healthy. 
    • Do not allow the ground to dry out. 
    • When seeds start to sprout, and are three to four inches in height you can transplant them by spacing eighteen inches apart, or leave them to grow in masses.
    • Refrain from weeding during growing season, as you may remove new growth.
    • Companion plants that I like grown with the cardinal flower: Blue Lobelia and Golden Ragwort.  I like the contrast of the colors blue, yellow and red. 

    Introduction Image Credit by US Fish and Wildlife Services