Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Maybe I Should Rethink the Chickens....

So, the good news is that my baby plants all seem to be growing well, with the lone exception of the oregano, which has either strenuously objected to being transplanted or simply didn't get enough water while I was out of town a couple of weeks ago. (If my husband is reading this...*AHEM cough cough*)

The tomatoes are shooting up, the peppers are putting out flowers, and the herbs seem to be hanging in there. The one thing I noticed was that some of the peppers seem to be the salad course for something, because there are holes appearing in the leaves. I don't think they've gotten bigger, so it's likely the danger has passed, but to be extra sure I decided to combat any pests that might be hanging around. (Get it? Hanging? HA HA! I'll be here all week.)

Since I am trying to be all organically-concerned and stuff, sprays and pesticides are out, natch. So I was delighted to see that my new local Whole Foods has a variety of natural pest control options, from lady bugs to praying mantis cocoons, all in little cardboard boxes for $7 or so. How cool would a praying mantis be?? I was seriously tempted to buy like, 10 of them, sprinkle the cocoons around my yard, set up a tiny camera and host my own nature show. Man that would be bitchin'...watching a praying mantis get all Chuck Norris on some leaf-sucking aphids.

In the end though praying mantises (manti? whatever the plural is) seemed just a bit too close to being extra pets, so I went for the lady bugs. I brought them home, read the instructions, and dutifully waited until evening, after I watered the plants, to release them into their new homes. I carefully sprinkled them around the two raised beds, the little pots, and then dumped the rest into the flowering plants around the yard.

That was Sunday evening. On Monday, my husband called me at work.

"Uh. Honey? Were all the ladybugs supposed to just, well, die?"

Horrified, I asked him what he meant.

"Well..there's just a whole buttload of dead ladybugs here. I mean, its not a total holocaust or anything, but yeah..there's a whole pile of dead ones."

Great, I thought. One day. I managed to kill the ladybugs in a single day. Good thing I didn't get the chickens yet because while dead ladybugs are pretty unpleasant, dead chickens would really just freak me the hell out.

Feeling pretty poorly, I came home that night to inspect the damage for myself. And, yes...there were many dead lady bugs in the planter. I don't know if it was still too hot when I dumped them, or I put in too many, or the plants were still too small and there wasn't enough food and shade. I'm just not sure, but I felt pretty darn lousy.

And then.

As I was re-coiling the hose and getting ready to head back in, I saw her. A lone lady-bug, crawling around the soil, looking pretty content. I started paying closer attention, and there's another! And another! Suddenly I started seeing all kinds of ladybugs! Everywhere! They were crawling around, doing their ladybug thing. I started laughing out loud in delight. I hadn't failed! I carefully picked up one little ladybug that had crawled or fell onto the patio, and put her back gently in the plants. I think she gave me a little wave of her feeler as I did so, as if to say, "We're cool!".

I think she was even munching an aphid.


MamaBean said...

Two words - Neem Oil!
Read this!

marcy said...

love your writing. hate your chicken idea. Want a cute cat by the name of Zumi? I can ship her to you with some Hawaiian aphids to feed to your ladybugs.