Monday, June 4, 2012

New bin update

Nymphs on parade
A couple of weeks after I noticed the black soldier fly larvae, they started leaving. They were crawling out of the box and all over the garage. Apparently you can make a bin specifically for them, but you have to provide an escape route for them into a collection bucket. Then you collect them and feed them to your fish or your chickens. I don't have fish or chickens. I fed a few to one of the dogs. Mostly I just throw them out in the yard.

The problem is that a couple dozen of these suckers would crawl around the garage each day and invariably get squished. We don't want a garage full of squashed immature black soldier flies. It turns out the answer, as is so often the case, is Velcro. I bought some hooks and loops at the craft store and ran it around the rim of the box It turns out the larvae can't climb over it. I won't know for sure that it has worked for a day or two. I hope to see a significant reduction in escaping larva.

Still, it is only natural for them to crawl out, so I still need to add in the escape tube and collection bucket. Also,  I have seen several adult soldier flies. I must find them right after they crawl out of their pupae because they are very easy to catch and don't fly so well. I have only found a dozen or so and I just put them outside. There have been a couple of fast flyers hanging around the box--no doubt laying eggs for the next generation of garbage-eaters.

Planting and harvest
I've been pulling in a steady handful of strawberries each week from the conventional bed. The linear feeder is nearly empty because the plants there have mostly died and the remaining ones have not been putting off fruit. The vertical planter is a disaster. No fruit at all since I put it up. The weedcloth and small amount of soil mean that the plant roots dry out much too quickly. I'm going to relocate those plants back to the conventional bed and try a pilot project in the vertical planter with plastic bags inside the weedcloth pockets to see if I get better water retention and maybe more successful plants. If that doesn't work, I will try planting something else there.

I have put a bunch of tomatoes in the ground and yesterday the girls and I pulled in a few handfuls. We ate most of them while we were still in the garden. The yellow heirloom cherry tomatoes from Goodwood are fantastic. The Celebrity tomatoes come in at a good size for snacking--about three times the diameter of a regular cherry tomato. I even have some of the heirloom green zebras that are nearly ready to pick.

Last week I transplanted all of the tomatoes from the nursery into the garden. Over Memorial Day weekend I got a scare with the hot peppers. I didn't water for four days and everything wilted. Most of them came back. That was when I determined to get them out of the flats and into the ground. I planted a big patch of them out front yesterday. I had not planned to each the hot peppers, but to use them for pesticide and to discourage the raccoons from going after my bell peppers.

I brought in some plants to the office to give away and someone mentioned how good the chilis are stuffed with cream cheese. So I tried it and it is fantastic. I just cut off the top, take out the seeds (and save them) , microwave them for 30 seconds and fill in the middle with cream cheese and some fresh basil. Delicious. Yes, I know they are better deep fried but there is plenty of cholesterol and fat in a big lump of cream cheese.

I'll have to put up a current picture of the garden, but the new Blogger interface seems to not like my pictures.

Fruit trees
By now I should have a good idea of how much fruit I'm going to harvest this fall. The pomegranate blossoms have set and I have about a dozen potential fruit. I think I need to ramp up the watering early in the spring so more of the blossoms stay on the tree. Some of them could still drop. I'm just hoping to beat last year's harvest of three pomegranates.

The persimmon has never had a flower on it. This year has been a victory because its leaves didn't get eaten back to the nubs by white flies. I soaped the leaves early, but only once and I do have two nasturtiums (from the dozens of seeds I planted) at the base of the tree, which are supposed to deter white flies. I also did foliar feeding for the first time this year with the plant food my parents brought me. No fuyus this year.

The blueberry bushes in the backyard have nothing. No blossoms this year. No fruit. The local U-pick-em place is reporting low yield due to a late frost in February. I don't know if that affected my plants or if they're just having a rebuilding year. The plants have grown and filled out a bit. I've been dressing them with topsoil, watering them conscientiously and mulching them with pine straw. They still don't get much sunlight where they are. I may transplant a couple to the front yard this fall.

I have one other plant that is coming along. Of the dozens of seeds of the three varieties of sunflower I planted, I had three successful sprouts, two of which survived transplanting to the front yard, one of which is still alive and well and looking to bust out with a big head of seeds later this summer. It is a Mammoth (that's the variety) sunflower so I have high hopes for a big seed head and plenty of seeds to propogate. I'd like to have a small patch of sunflowers next summer.

That's the latest. I will try to get the photos to embed.

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