Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A beer a day - keeps the slugs away! (Or at least off my plants!)

Last week, I was ecstatic to find baby pink kale plants at the greenhouse. As any of you know, I love kale, and I love the color pink so this was just a made-for-me-combo. I took home my baby plants - promptly nestled them in my garden square, and waited to see the leaves fluff out into a healthy, harvest-able, deep green er, pink, kale.

A couple days went by and they were lookin good! And then, by mid-week I noticed unmistakable CHOMP marks all along the edges of my kale. We had noticed these ominous marks on our broccoli last year - and sadly, this broccoli never reached the harvest stage.

I strongly suspected slugs. We don't water in the evening, just to keep these plant-vampires away. But there's been a LOT of rain lately....which could have caused them to come out. At our Sunday garden party I was explaining the predicament to my friend Lindsay and as she was giving me some organic hints to exterminate slugs when she glanced down and noticed one of the mini-monsters eating my kale! Right there! I mean the nerve of that slug! I hurled it over near the fire pit (missed) and Lindz gave me some cool hints to get rid of them for good.

#1 Hint By Lindz - Sandpaper. I thought this was genius. Apparently, slugs have a "rough" time moving across sandpaper, so if you lay it around your plants, it's like an anti-slug moat. I haven't picked up any yet, but the next time I'm at Lowes, it's a sure thing.

#2. Hint by Lindz - Beer. Apparently, slugs are attracted to beer (maybe the Hops fragrance?) Today, I put some dishes of beer in my kale beds. I'm experimenting with two depths. In one square, I put a 2'' high hummus container filled with beer. In the other square, (pictured) I used the lid. I don't know how good slugs are at climbing, but I don't know how deep the beer needs to be to do the job so this will be interesting. (So, if any slugs are reading this - come and get it! It's Yuengling on tap tonight on Sunday Road!)

#3. Hint (by me) - These slugs seem to prefer cruciferous veggies. So broccoli, cauliflower, kale, chard, etc are going to be most vulnerable. Radishes are a root vegetable, but they're also a potential victim! Check these plants every day. It's amazing to see the damage these little buggers can do overnight.

#4. Don't water at night (by me). They come out in the evening. There's nothing you can do about rain - - but a.m. watering can only help, not hurt.

I'll let you know how my war against slugs works out and if you have other tips - I'd love to hear them!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Going to the Greenhouse!

Reed at "Reed's Greenhouse" in Hico, WV. No, - we don't run our own greenhouse. But the ironically named, "Reed's Greenhouse" is one of our favorite spring and summer hangouts.

If you have never visited a greenhouse before, it's time to go! Each one is different. But I never tire of meandering through rows of flowers, veggie plants, seedlings, examining tags, and ducking into the next giant white tent to see what else may await...

Exploring a greenhouse is like going to a circus carnival of greenery, only you get to take home your favorite performers!

The day this picture was taken was a (rare!) sunny day in May.

We bought Lantana, Petunias, Verbena. Foxglove, and Celosia! (Oh, and a couple of tomato plants for my square!)

When I tend to look for flowers I look for 3 things:
1. Beneficial to pollinators like hummingbirds, butterflies, bees
2. Perennial (hey, it's more cost-effective)
3. Long bloom times

Often, two out of three is good enough if I just love how the flower looks. For instance, this is my first time growing foxglove (digitalis). I picked out a creamy yellow cultivated variety (d. lutea). It is a perrinneal and although it's not a super butterfly plant, I hear butterflies like it. I'll have to update you later for how long it blooms!

(All parts of this plant are very toxic - but look how pretty! Probably not the best thing if you have kids - but I'll let you know next month how it turned out!)

All in all, if you have never gardened, or if you're not sure you want to get into it - visit your nearest greenhouse. It is a great motivator and not such a bad date idea either! ^_-