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PostPosted: Thu Mar 11, 2010 10:37 pm 
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The college applications are all in, there are a few straggler scholarship applications to fill out, but now it's time to wait on news and think about the garden.

Today I went by Marshall Grain and picked up some soil amendments to add to my compost for the garden, there are some trichogramma wasps in the fridge that I'll put out this weekend, and of course, I got the Muenster dog food.

Looks like this weekend I'll start moving things around big time and getting early stuff planted. And I do need to go through those left-over bug photos and see what I can post here for your viewing entertainment! :)

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 01, 2010 11:42 am 
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I've posted to my blog. http://lilybarthes.wordpress.com/2010/04/01/cranking-up-the-garden/

The critter featured in that discussion is a version of the Assassin bug, I think. Howard says
it is beneficial (I sent one of these images several years ago) but they really clobbered my cactus.
I took out the largest (and ugliest) one that was also most vulnerable to them.

Image

Little "herds" of these bugs would race around the pads. And if you squash them, they have the
perfume-like smell that so many in this stink bug family have. There are lots of whitish spots on the
pads that are sites where these sucking bugs had latched on.

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PostPosted: Thu May 13, 2010 5:27 pm 
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This year's garden went in late, but it has been in for a couple of weeks now, and is coming along nicely. I put up a blog post about it earlier in the week.

Fingers crossed this rain predicted for the next couple of days is just rain, not sideways wind that knocks the stuffing out of a young garden.

Image
http://www.nikonusa.com/Find-Your-Nikon/Product/Digital-Camera/26194/COOLPIX-L110.html

I'm working with a new camera, another Nikon Coolpix, (this time the L110, staying with my "under $300" request. Thanks, Arlington Camera!) but the closeup feature is different. I'll be posting results from tests as soon as I have some good bugs to photograph. I'm sure they'll accommodate me, one way or the other. I still have the BIG camera as well, but this Nikon is the one that goes in my pack or purse for running around.

Meanwhile, I have this bizarre task of weeding tomatoes. My garden is filled with seedling tomato plants, and it is just to oddest feeling to have to pluck them out and not cage and pamper them instead. I will leave a few. I didn't buy any cherry tomato plants this year, and I suspect that's what these are. They're in the area where I had tomatoes last year, and the cherry variety outlasted everything else. I'm sure they dropped fruit all season.

Should be interesting.

NOTE: I'm having second thoughts about this camera. It does some things well, but it isn't the easiest one when it comes to getting autofocus to stay focused on the item you're aiming at.

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Last edited by northwesterner on Mon Jun 14, 2010 3:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sun May 16, 2010 10:11 am 
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Yesterday I picked up a truckload of free mulch from the City of Fort Worth site. I know there are mixed feelings about it, but the price is right (remember my first post: "modest means" implies taking advantage of free mulch!) We had a big rain two days ago, and a smallish precipitation overnight. This makes for perfect weeding conditions. Photos to follow!

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 01, 2010 3:29 pm 
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Not many flowers on some of the Super Fantastic tomatoes this year, and they seem to
have the summer blight or whatever those yellow bottom leaves are called more than usual.
I bought them from two different sources, and happened to plant them in separate parts
of the garden. One set has the yellowing much more than the other. I'll be watching the
affected ones closely, and may end up taking them out early.

Eggplant have some kind of curling leaf edge problem. Worms are getting the squash. Oregano
is growing wildly all over the place, as is lemon balm. Seems like a typical garden in Texas. I've
taken a few photos and will post them as I find solutions.

Son graduates from high school tomorrow, so this has been a fairly low-key blog for a while. I
hope to pick up the pace again next week.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 14, 2010 3:51 pm 
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I couldn't get close enough with any camera this morning, but as I stepped out to move the trash
can back from the curb, I heard an angry buzzing, like when a bee gets trapped between the window
and the Venetian blinds. I looked around and found the source was two large bright black and yellow
striped cicada-killer wasps, locked in a rolling-around angry buzzing tussle on the ground. And to my
amazement, they separated and took off quickly, only to crowd each other in the air, then take grip
and thud in an angry insect bundle to the driveway surface and roll around angrily for a few seconds.
At one point it looked like three of the wasps were involved in this struggle.

I have lots of bare dirt where they will dig and pile up their big mounds that are excavated before
they each haul a stunned cicada into the hole and lay their eggs on the living host. So I imagine
this early combat had to do with territory or mating. I can't tell the males and females apart, I'll have
to do some research and see who digs the hole, etc.

You may recall that I have a photo of a mating pair of these wasps on page two of this blog.

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 25, 2010 9:41 am 
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Cicada Killer Wasps have had a big year this year. They've registered on the radar of people
who probably never gave them a thought. I've been expanding my gardens on the side and
front of my house, and these are the areas the wasps are tending to colonize. I posted a discussion
on my personal blog as What's The Buzz? http://lilybarthes.wordpress.com/2010/07/25/whats-the-buzz/?

If you're not sure if you have these wasps, this is what the mounds tend to look like around my house. I've watched
the wasps dig, going head first down the hole then backing out as they push the dirt with their back legs. For as long
as they're in the ground, I think these holes must be several inches deep.

Image

The males slam into each other several feet up and then drop straight to the ground as they struggle together.
So far I've always seen both combatants fly away, and the males don't have stingers, so I'm not sure how they
decide who wins these struggles. This photo is cropped from a much larger photo (I wasn't this close to the wasps
as they duked it out.)

Image

This photo is from last year, and I may have posted it here already. It's pretty easy to tell if they're
fighting or if they're breeding. I'd hazard a guess that in this photo they're breeding. :D
This photo is cropped from a much larger photo. Aren't the colors and markings on these insects
amazing?

Image

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 03, 2010 10:31 pm 
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The cicadas are almost past, very quiet. No more wasps. But a new mystery presents itself:

Mom is fast, reddish. Cardinal, or maybe phyrruloxia. I'll figure it out soon.

Nest is easy to watch. Trouble is the location. If these birds don't fly right away, either my dogs will get them, or the
tarantulas. There are several spider holes around this tree. Fingers crossed these little guys make it!

Image

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 09, 2010 11:20 am 
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I'm working on a new blog post, and have been working on mastering some of the technology
available to me (I knew a lot about my great Canon film camera and settings for f-stops and aperture,
but my digital was largely on the green box setting. I'm not using that so much any more, as I take the
time to figure out all of the electronic settings possible.)

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Last edited by northwesterner on Thu Feb 16, 2012 8:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 10, 2010 7:38 am 
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Most of the Mediterranean house geckos I have seen feeding are eating the tiny flying insects that are attracted to a porch light. I can sit outside on my patio and watch them stalk a tiny insect and eat them.

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 10, 2010 9:53 am 
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When the geckos get on the outside of the window glass at night they are probably there
because the light inside the room attracts bugs and moths. I've watched those little stalk
and capture dramas on the kitchen and bathroom windows at night.

This year I have seen many more of the native lizards, and as much as I like both of them,
I'm really glad to see the native lizards. I'm sure it's a sign of my healthy garden providing
both healthy food and good places to lay eggs.

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 11, 2010 6:52 am 
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Which lizards are native to this area? I do see a lot of anoles but not much else.

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 11, 2010 12:05 pm 
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I remember creeping around the garden getting good photos of these guys this summer, but I can't find
any of them now. I have this one without great contrast since he matches the driveway. But you
get the idea. It had an injury to the tail, this isn't the usual look. I think I've seen this one around. I don't know if
these do the same as the geckos, dropping the tail if they're caught or trapped.

Image

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 26, 2010 3:27 pm 
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Two weeks ago Chicago chef Rick Bayless was in Arlington to speak at UT Arlington as part of the
Maverick Speakers Series. I've followed him for a while on twitter (@Rick_Bayless) and here is an
announcement he made today. It won't serve my area, but it looks like readers from around the U.S.
(and beyond) visit the DirtDoctor.com site. So here's 2011 Grant Application for the Frontera farmer
foundation. http://www.rickbayless.com/foundation/downloadapp.html

Quote:
Grant applications are now being accepted for 2011.
The Frontera Farmer Foundation is committed to promoting small, sustainable Midwestern farms serving the
Chicago area, by providing them with capital development grants. Small local farms, which often struggle
financially, are more likely to promote biodiversity by planting a wide range of produce and operate using
organic practices. By their artisanal approach to agriculture, the freshness of their product and the variety
of their offerings, these farmers insure the highest quality food while they add immeasurably to the fabric of
their local rural community.

Eligibility requirements
The Frontera Farmer Foundation will award grants for capital improvements of up to $12,000 to small and
medium-size, individually owned farms that sell their food products to customers in the Chicago area at
farmers markets and otherwise. Farmers must have been in business for at least three years and must
demonstrate how the grant will improve both their farm’s viability and the availability of locally grown food
products in the Chicago area. Grant applicants will be judged on the basis of demonstrated need, long-term
dedication to sustainable farming, creative and business acumen, and commitment to sustainability.


Find the rest of the information at the site. The deadline for the application is February 28, 2011.

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 15, 2010 3:26 pm 
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You've got some really nice pictures; I hope you won't mind if I help you out with some critter identification ;-)

The ants around the water pipe are not fire ants. They are acrobat ants and are native to your area (Ft. Worth). The "flying ants" sure look a lot like termites. They produce winged reproductives and look like winged ants. The best way to tell from a glance is that ants have a "wasp waste"; termites are fatter around the middle where the constriction would be on a winged ant. The tarantula hawk appeared to be dragging away a wolf spider, not a tarantula.

Trying to recall what else I saw....oh, the hornworm parasites are a braconid wasp (braconidae). Tachinid flies (Tachinidae) pupae within the host and generally only one or two come from a single host. You can see the "caps" are off of several of the wasp pupae. Those have already emerged.

The lizard is a fence lizard and do drop the tails as a defense mechanism. It is growing a replacement in that picture.

Thank you for sharing great photos!! Hope you didn't mind :-)


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