This container held 1500 live ladybugs (plus a few extras as incidental insurance). We have hired them to work as little pest-eating warriors in our family garden.
Our first family garden (or experiment, as John likes to call it) is off to a mixed start.
We were having the most luck with our three tomato plants, until I found some brown spots on their leaves Saturday morning. A quick internet search convinced me that the tomatoes had been affected by an early blight. This discovery led me through all five stages of grief, believing I would have to tear the plants out of the ground and start all over.
Gardening is an emotional journey, my friends.
But then, a trip to the Merrifield Garden Center plant clinic revealed that our tomato plants were not affected by blight, but were being eaten by garden mites. The garden center recommended a pesticide spray, but our intentions to grow organically made us turn down the spray.
Further research revealed many methods of controlling pests, but one in particular caught my attention: live ladybugs-- which were also available for purchase at our garden center (though you can also buy them online).
One ladybug can eat up to 50 garden pests a day. Ladybugs live an average of 21 days, eating about 1000 pests in their lifetime. Their favorite food is aphids, but they also eat mites, scale, and mealy bugs. If they decide they like our garden, they will hatch little eggs on the leaves of our plants and a new generation of ladybugs will continue the war against garden pests.
Yesterday evening we introduced the ladybugs to their new home, or rather dumped them out onto it. By introducing them in the evening, they are less likely to fly away and find another home. Apparently, the night introduction encourages them to settle in and make themselves at home, waking up in the morning to wage war on our garden pests.
John was declared the ladybug whisperer, as he walked around creating little ladybug communities throughout our vegetable garden and some of our flower plants too. Some of the ladybugs took a liking to John, and attempted to make themselves at home with him.
Sorry ladies, he's taken.
You can see the brown spots on our tomato plant's leaves where the mites have been eating them.
I had hoped that the ladybugs would immediately engage in some voracious mite eating behavior.
A closer examination revealed that they were anxious to engage in an altogether different type of behavior, however.
And now it's up to the fickle minds of our ladybug friend to decide whether to make a home out of our garden.
Putting the excitement of the ladybugs aside, I realize it's been entirely too long since we last talked.
My life has been in a state of change. After a year and a half working for a private chef, I realized that my professional heart truly belonged in my original field: education. For the past two months I have been working from home to start my own small educational consulting business.
In addition, I have to confess a bit of blog two-timing on my part. I have founded a new blog focusing on educational museum experiences for children, with a special focus on the DC area. If you are a parent or educator, or simply interested in unique museum experiences, check out my new adventures at Inspire Me Now. Otherwise, I hope you will continue following The Garden Apartment, as the opening of farmers markets and our burgeoning summer garden promises to inspire some good recipes here.
Thank you for reading,