Thursday, September 18, 2014

Good Bugs in the Fall Garden

Last Thursday we had the first frost warning of the year, and at slightly higher elevations, there was snow!  In September!  Fortunately, we escaped such a dreary fate, and actually didn't even get frost.  That was nice, because it gave us time to notice a few things while we were out in the yard this weekend (other than the jungle of tomatoes racing to produce some red color before the next cold snap comes).

The first is that the bees were more active than they have been for a while, in part due to the warmer weather, no doubt.  But we've also got a second bloom of dandelions going on, and they're busy collecting the pollen and nectar.  Also, a lot of our broccoli was kind of doomed from the start because we didn't get it in the ground before it got leggy.  As a result, it made a bunch of loose heads, parts of which started blooming before the other parts were even there.  But a silver lining is that the bees seem to love the flowers.  Brassicas have highly nutritious pollen for bees (and here), so we don't mind sacrificing some of our crop for their sake!  It's good to see them out foraging in droves again since August was kind of a lean month.

We also went ladybug hunting to get some pictures for the Lost Ladybug Project.  The populations of ladybugs have been undergoing dramatic changes lately, with some native species on a steep decline.  The picture on the left is a seven-spot lady bug, which is relatively common and is a European import.  It was guarding the potatoes and tomatoes.  The one on the right is a two-spot ladybug, a rare native!  It was hiding in the crab apple tree.  Man, how lucky are we! (Follow the link above to submit your photos of ladybugs, too, whether they seem lost or not!)

Finally, a little bird told us that the sunflower seeds are getting ripe.  If we wanted to feed any to the chickens, we better act quick!

What's going on in your garden this time of year?  Let us know in the comments section below!

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