"Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”
_ William Morris
, 19th century craftsman, designer, writer

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Thursday, March 19, 2015

Intruder Alert: Have You Checked the Sprouts Lately?

  Remember the 2006 thriller, When A Stranger Calls, the scene where the sweet, unsuspecting babysitter is being terrorized by an unidentified caller only to discover that the harrassing calls are being made from inside the house.... (view the above clip for a refresher)

That is exactly what's happening with my sunflower sprouts.

In spite of creating lovely upcycled greenhouse condos for each of them, then gently covering the whole case at night - in the morning the little green leaves have been ravaged. 
  The assault is an inside job.
I am not preventing the invasion, I am actually trapping the intruders inside...oh, the horror.
Fellow blogger and garden enthusiast, Rita C. at Panoply suggested I sprinkle a little red pepper on the soil, I am going to try that before resorting to a commercial repellant.

Meanwhile, although some leaves are being feasted upon, the remaining plants are thriving within their little greenhouse shelters. The coverage is keeping the moisture inside and clearly providing a happy space for them--and of course, the dreaded bugs. But we shall persevere.
 Have you checked the sprouts lately...
 (Do you think those little black specks are the culprit? Could they possibly be eating those giant holes?)

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

 Happy St. Patrick's Day!
I am more than a smidgen Irish, and that heritage is quadrupled on March 17th! 
No matter what your background, St. Patrick's Day celebrates the banishment of snakes (in my book always a good thing), green beer and Shamrock Shakes! May luck and love be yours today and always. Just in case though, I've also got a great recipe for Guinness Chocolate Pudding and one of my favorite Irish blessings to brighten your day...see you at the drive thru:

Traditional Irish Blessing

May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of his hand.
May God be with you and bless you;
May you see your children's children.
May you be poor in misfortune,
Rich in blessings,
May you know nothing but happiness
From this day forward.
May the road rise to meet you
May the wind be always at your back
May the warm rays of sun fall upon your home
And may the hand of a friend always be near.
May green be the grass you walk on,
May blue be the skies above you,
May pure be the joys that surround you,
May true be the hearts that love you.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Who's Been Snacking On My Sunflowers?

Someone's been munching on my sunflower sprouts!
 I immediately Googled which unwanted guests might be coming to dinner...
 According to my research, it turns out sunflower sprouts and leaves, along with pea sprouts, are like the candy of the insect world -and the culprits could range from beetles, caterpillars and lacewings to snails with a sweet tooth -and beyond.

I discovered frustrated gardeners commiserating about the many ways sunflowers don't live to see their full potential: deer were a popular predator, as were possum, birds, bugs, rats and even squirrels. One woman recounted the time she saw a squirrel working beaver-like at the bottom of a large sunflower stalk, when he felled the flower he took the whole thing in his mouth and ran off. The nerve!

For now, however, I am going to worry about one pest at a time.

On the Helpful Gardener Forum, one reader shared her secret for thwarting hungry bugs. She cut the bottom off plastic bottles and created little fortresses around the sprouts. She reported success: her sprout was intact the next morning.

I decided to do the same.

 I rummaged through my recycling bin and got to work. In order to cut the bottoms off of the bottles I had to use my sharpest garden pruners to get started, then I used large scissors to finish cutting all the way around.

Many gardeners also advised sneaking up on the sprouts at night with a flash light and catching the perpetrators in the act.

 I covered all the sprouts with their private greenhouses, although some had to double up inside lemonade containers, and then covered the bottles with a lightweight dish cloth. I might be getting just the teensiest bit neurotic... (getting you say?)

I am concerned I won't be able to leave the bottles over the sprouts during the day since it has been so hot here (* North East friends, I am not complaining!) - but I am going to see what happens.

Anyone out there have other ideas for keeping bugs at bay? Please share in the comments below!

In other news...the foxglove have finally joined the party! Can you see the little green specks? It's amazing these grow into such large plants!

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