... growing and hybridizing all kinds of plants in zone 6b Maryland since the 1980's.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Peppers still holding on

Got the peppers out for another aphid-blasting hose shower. The seven I started with has been reduced to six. The one on the far right looks like it might also not make it. But I'll still be happy to get the five remaining ones replanted for seed production this coming summer.

First flowers of Spring 2018

The temperature got above 80 F yesterday and didn't get below 50 F. Today was a contrasting high in the lower 40's. Crazy weather!
But yesterday I saw these flowers (crocus and winter flowering jasmine) announcing that Spring will soon be here for real.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Little helpers in the war on aphids

They're not exactly controlling the aphid outbreak in a very noticeable way but every little bit helps. Not sure of the exact identification but I'm pretty sure these little braconid wasps are why I keep finding aphid "mummies" - hollowed out brown shells of aphids that have been used [eaten from inside out] by the braconid wasp larva. Ghoulish but it's all part of the web of nature and they're helping me avoid an all-out aphid epidemic.
Little Aphidius sp. (???) wasp, maybe hunting for an aphid to lay an egg on...
An aphid "mummy" 
Closer view of an aphid "mummy"

I tried to get a picture of a fungus gnat so you could see how different they are but wouldn't you know, couldn't find one! Sometimes we have so many fungus gnats that I have to keep my mouth shut to keep from eating them. Evidently my watering schedule (letting things dry out more) and using perlite as a soil covering has reduced the fungus gnat population substantially.

learn more about Aphidius sp. - parasitizing aphids

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Another bath for the peppers

The aphids were building up again and the temperatures are finally up in the 30's F, so I took the peppers out of the basement and sprayed them down with soap spray. After 5 minutes or so, I blasted them with the garden hose. They always look happier after one of these "treatments". And it takes a while for the aphids to build back up. I'm guessing there are eggs that I miss. Maybe if I did this frequently enough, I could get 'em all???

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Aronia Syrup

Finally got around to processing the Aronia berries that we'd harvested back in summer. I was worried that I hadn't added enough sugar to make a thick syrup, but once it cooled, it was fine. See how well it coated the mason jar when I poured it into the syrup bottle (for easier use on our pancakes).