The Road Home

The Road Home
There is no place like home.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

August Gardening Update

First, a bug update. I learned something very interesting about ants and aphids. We have an over abundance of fire ants here. A few years ago there were a few, then more and more. This year they seem to be everywhere and in everything.

I was talking to a neighbor about gardens a few days ago and told her I had some aphids on my purple hull peas. She told me that anywhere there are ants and available plants there will be aphids. There is a mutually beneficial relationship between the two insects. The aphids secret a 'honeydew' that the ants eat and the ants protect the aphids from their predators. The ants will actually carry the aphids around and place them on choice plants so they will produce more honeydew. The ants have even been observed to 'milk' the aphids so they will produce more honeydew. Even though I find the ants and aphids to be a serious nuisance, I find this fascinating.

I had a batch of aphids on some of my purple hull peas and I wondered if the assassin bugs would eat them. So I gathered up about 10 assassin bugs from one of my pepper plants in a jar and put them where the aphids are. It didn't seem to make any difference. Now I think it is because of the ants. We have not come up with a natural way to combat the ants. There may not be one. They have really boomed this year and become a real problem.

This morning while out picking the garden I was able to welcome a new bug - a praying mantis. It was in the Romano bean trellis and I was happy to see it.

Another update is the fall garden. We have had seven inches of rain in the last three days along with several more inches in the week prior. The fall seedlings I have planted are ready to go in the ground but it will be several more days before that is possible. The winter squashes and pumpkins are growing well even though they were rather beat up by the heavy rain.

I think the grasshoppers mowed down one of the melons, but there are still four left.


The potatoes haven't come up yet, and I hope they don't rot with all of this rain.

I wrote about the flood in the herb bed earlier in the summer. Time has not allowed me to work on the herb bed this year the way I hoped. Sometimes I would walk by and look at it and think it is a real failure this year. But a few weeks ago, I started really looking at what I had growing there. Even though I hoped to have much more established by now, I realized that I have quite a few things growing. The mulch is not in place and I am fighting the weeds more than I would like, but I have some strong perennial plants that will continue coming back. So here they are in no particular order.


Blackberry Lily

Green tea
Lemon Balm
Multiplier Onions
Parsley (which has bloomed and gone to seed)
Sage (two types)
Sweet Potato (I replanted one we grew last year)
Wild Lettuce (going to seed)

Muddy footprints just trying to get around in the herb bed.

The kittens are starting to get out and around and 'help' pick the garden. They still get lost a lot, but it's fun to watch them explore.
We are blessed with abundance and beauty all around us. Even if we have too much rain, the weeds are growing like crazy and the grass needs mowing, life is good - very, very good.

Until next time - Fern


  1. I used diatomaceous earth this year. It MUST be food grade. It wiped out my squash bugs after one application. I don't have fire ants so haven't tried it on them. I do have scorpions and have to admit, I use strong chemicals on them in and around the house. I have a friend that swears by neem oil as a great organic insect control.

  2. I have used Eucalyptus Essential Oil mixed with water and a strong mix of Dr. Bronner's Tea Tree Soap mixed with water for ants. Both of them worked, but I think the Tea Tree worked much better.

    Tea Tree Essential Oil mixed w/water can be sprayed on plants to eliminate fungus.