Tag Archives: Loathe

When Weeding Stops Being Polite and Starts Getting REAL

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We have encountered infestation upon infestation this season, the first time ever for us to have to battle so many wars on so many fronts.  When things like this happen, and you grow organically like we do, you need to figure out some options.  What isn’t an option, is what most people would flock to, some Sevin dust, or some sort of Monsanto product.  Us fringe wackos use things like diatomaceous earth, or neem oil, or Pyrethrin.  Things that work, but aren’t a 100% knockout punch.  This morning, one of our WWOOF’ers, Heidi, and I were weeding in a bell pepper bed, and we had scores of uninvited guests also present with us.  These pictures I am about to show you are graphic in nature, and not suitable for all eyes.

These are Blister Beetles.  When squished, or if they get on you and give you a nibble, they have a defensive secretion that causes your skin to blister.  The chemical they secrete is harvested in certain species of beetles and used to remove warts.  I wasn’t expecting this kind of excitement at 6am, but at least I had on socks and shoes.   Poor Heidi had on shorts and flip-flops.  We soldiered on, the whole time thinking “NO WHAMMIES!!!”


Not only were the beetles on the pepper plants themselves, but on all of the weeds we were pulling.  I would sweep them to the side with my glove and then pull.  What’s the saying?  Hindsight is always 20/20?  Well, in hindsight, we probably should have got the hell out of there…it was like weed pulling Vietnam.  Poisonous bugs EVERYWHERE, that harbor a blistering agent…those sneaks.

The thing about these bugs, is that there are 7500 varieties of them.  These happen to be striped.  The ones we fought off in Big Poppa (Hoop House #2) were all black…they were goth blister beetles.  AND, these bugs were not there yesterday.  Ladies and gentlemen out there in cyber-land, if you know how to communicate with these devils, please let me know.  I’d like to make peace and show them some nice and tasty weeds to munch.  Isn’t that strange when you think about it?  Mammals and insects are no dummies when it comes to a tasty snack.  They wait until it’s practically ripe even…I just blew your minds, chew on that for a while.

It was definitely a party.  I went on one of those google searches to find a picture of a blister from a blister beetle.  I found the most gentle one to share, they can really tear a person up…so you’re welcome.


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The day the fennel and my glasses died

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The day the fennel and my glasses died

Once the tomato tasting and the farmer’s market was a distant memory, meaning later that afternoon I took a look at my “Bronze Leaf” fennel plants and noticed that they were nothing but stems.  The culprit(s) were little caterpillars who eventually turn into the blue swallow-tail butterfly.  At the time there was only one of these critters on the plant, but there must have been more that escaped my radar.  These types of caterpillars attack dill, fennel and parsley.  When you touch them these orange feelers pop out of their head.  It must be their defense.  That and a sour stink that they produce.  It doesn’t wash off easily, so if you see these beings and you don’t want them to destroy your plant(s), I suggest wearing gloves to remove them and fling across the yard.

The culprit…atleast the one who I caught.  These jerks stripped this plant clean.

This is me touching it to get it to show its defenses.  Also, I should note that my glasses fell off my head here and landed near my feet.  I decided to leave them there since I was going to take more pictures and they weren’t hurting anyone there on the ground.  Make a mental note Amanda, I thought to myself, your glasses are right there.  Don’t step on them.  Check.

Here is this creature showing its orange defenses, before I flung it far, far away.  CRACK!  What!  Oh NOOOOOOO!  I just stepped on my glasses and broke them.  Now I dislike that critter even more, and my fingers stink from touching it.  So consider this a loss on all fronts.  My fennel is toast, my glasses are toast AND my fingers stink.  Serendipity.

It was so DRY!!! How dry was IT?

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My goodness gracious.  It has been so hot and DRY lately, things are dying all around us.  Lawns are brown, trees are loosing their leaves, the people are wilting themselves.  Team WWOOF is so bored, I can tell.  They spend a lot of time, all day usually, watering.  You see with the CSA, we can’t let things die on us.  Our customers are depending on a crop.  Let me rephrase that.  We could totally let it ALL die and the customer would have to understand, because they signed a piece of paper, and something like drought is part of the liability.  But we’re too nice, and since we have a lot of help and it’s too hot to do much else, we put a hose in their hand.  It’s funny, because as I type this out, it is currently raining.  The rain, which has only been going on for about 20 minutes or so has prompted me to write about the dryness, because I’ve been needing to.  One of our CSA members asked me the other day how things were growing.  I let him know how tough it’s been and how some things are just wilting away.  He totally understood if the bags were empty for the next few weeks.  He shared the story of his garden with me.  He said he and his wife had been gone for three weeks.  Even though they had someone watering it for them, they returned and their garden was dust.  This “heat wave” that the weather man has talked about has lasted for two months now.  It’s more like a heat tsunami!  This wave won’t leave.  I guess my message to you dear reader is respect the fact that there is produce at your grocery store, and there are many, MANY factors that go into its survival.  Uh oh, the rain knew I was talking about it, it just stopped : (

Things I Love, Things I Loathe

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I am quite satisfied with these flowers, these are a cactus variety of zinnia from Baker Creek Seed Co.  The package said “Giant”.  Not quite so sure about that, but the color is really nice.  We’ll put this into the “Love” category.

This too can be put into the “Love” category.  This, another cactus variety of zinnia, called “Bright Jewel Cactus”, seeds from Baker Creek Seed Co.  I’m in love with the color.  Anything orange attracts my eye, but when it’s a beautiful flower, even more so.  With this pack of seeds you get a few colors.  I’ve noticed a few white, a few yellow, some orange and pinks.  I’m satisfied with this mix of seed.  A beautiful mix of color.

This is the pink that comes mixed with the “Bright Jewel” packet.  It’s pretty, more of a salmon pink.

The award for “I love you, I love you, I love you!” goes to the “Righteous Red” zinnia from Seeds of Change.  These seeds had an excellent germination rate and produce hearty, vigorous plants.  The color was very chromatic, no complaints.  Absolutely stunning flowers.

I am also in love with my Celosia, seeds from Seeds of Change.  The germination rate was good and the plants are healthy.

Dum dun dun dun DUM!!!!  It’s that time to talk about the things that make me shudder and ultimately mean a swing and a miss on my part.  These pictures are of a zinnia variety called “Envy”, which is funny, because there is nothing to envy here.  I was so excited to buy these seeds, more than any of my others.  I bought them from Baker Creek Seed Co.  Zinnias should be direct seeded, but can be started in your green house, or indoors.  The risk of starting them early is to not let them get root bound, because they can suffer a transplant shock, which can send double blooms, (refer back to the picture of the Righteous Reds), to turn into singles, which you will see:

Hideous!  This is what the seed company advertised.  In fact, that’s even a terrible picture.  The picture in their catalogue was a lime green like this.  Not what I have here.

The single blooms are not pretty and they fall apart AND they look ugly a whole lot faster than they should.

I only have one plant that produces double blooms, but the color is far from what was advertised.  Let this serve as a warning to stay away from this variety of zinnia.  Notice the brown petals, this flower just bloomed!  Shouldn’t be brown.  Yuck “Envy” zinnia, just yuck.

Things I Love, Things I Loathe

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Bunnys, or deer nibbling off the top of my beans, grrrrrr.

If you want to grow ANY kind of squash in Northwest Arkansas, you have to fight the good fight with these guys, squash bugs.  Organically, there aren’t too many options for you…just don’t grow it.  I’m fighting for these babies here, I’m determined to keep them alive some how.  I don’t have many plants in the ground, so I’m scraping the eggs off of the leaves just to see if my plants can have a fighting chance.

The eggs and a newly hatched baby.

Another squash plant culprit, the stem borer.  Little white moths lay their eggs at the base of the plant and the baby bores into the stem and eats the inside of it, killing your plant.  This day I took a knife and split it open and yanked the grub out.  Fingers crossed the plants still make it.  I’m determined to get a crop.

Calendula and dill.  In case you were wondering, this is a picture of something I love.

Cosmos.  These are called seashell.  The produce this beautiful tubular petal.  I ordered the seeds on a whim, and am very pleased with them.

My sunflowers are my pride and joy!  I LOVE them as if they were my own children.

Except when the deer nibble off the tops!!!!  If anyone has any advice on dear deer solutions, I’m all ears!