East Sac Edible


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Lady Bug Larvae and House!

I was in Bernal Heights, San Francisco the other day and stopped into a sweet little succulent shop on Cortland Avenue, called Succulence. Now I am not a huge fan of succulents even though they are the perfect drought tolerant plants. They just don’t float my boat and I’d rather plant something I can eat. However, I can’t avoid going in gardening stores. This store is really lovely with lots of modern trinkets for the garden and all the supplies for succulents you would ever need. If you are in the neighborhood, I would recommend checking out this shop then walk down the street to the Sandbox Bakery for a coffee and out-of-this-world pastries (white cheddar, mushroom and onion stuffed croissant… yes please!).

DSC_2756At Succulence, I bought this little Lady-Bird House made by Wild on Wildlife. This is a little house that the ladybugs can shelter. The directions state that ladybugs often hibernate in clusters and to put some leaves or corrugated carton rolls inside for them to nest. There is a small hole in the back so you can nail it to a fence but I think I am going to put it into my first garden bed where I have seen lots of ladybugs and larvae.

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After my ladybug release several weeks ago, I have been thinking about the practice of buying ladybugs. Of course I want to naturally attract ladybugs to my garden and I felt a bit guilty for buying them. First of all I really don’t know anything about where these ladybugs come from or how sustainable the practice of harvesting tons of ladybugs for home garden use is. But I bought them so I want to encourage them to stay. Hopefully the little Lady-Bird House will help.

Since releasing the ladybugs, lots of adults have flown away but many have stayed due to my large number of juicy aphids. I have already seen ladybug eggs under my apple tree leaves. I have also noticed lots of larvae on my tomatillo plants. Currently, the tomatillo plant has lots of flowers blooming so I think the ladybugs like the pollen on this plant. Additionally there is an aphid ridden cucumber plant meandering among the tomatillo so there is lots of ladybug food.

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I think that under the tomatillo plant will be the location of the new Lady-Bird House. I have noticed that ladybugs really like to sit on top of the Mulberry sticks I use for trellising some plants. I am not sure if they like the dew that collects on them in the morning but I think I will add a few of these sticks into their house along with some leaves and cardboard.

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Bug Control: Releasing the Lady Bugs

Several of my squash plants have been covered in aphids. I never worry too much about pests in my garden but when the aphids spread over to my young apple tree I decided it was time to do something. I haven’t seen many ladybugs in my garden recently so I decided to buy some lady bugs at the nursery. They come in packs of about 1500.

Often times you release ladybugs and they just all fly away failing to stay in your garden and eat your juicy aphids. There are a few tricks to get them to stay. First of all make sure you have a food supply for lots of ladybugs such as lots of aphids on your squash plants. Adult ladybugs do not eat as much as their larvae but you need to encourage the adults to stick around and decide to mate in your garden in order to really get the benefits of adding ladybugs. Secondly, keep your ladybugs in the refrigerator until you are ready to put them out. The cool temperatures keep them dormant but they quickly become active once you take them out. Release the ladybugs in the evening and spray your garden with some water so they have something to drink right away. All of these tips should help you keep your ladybugs from flying away as soon as you release them.

Also don’t forget to create habitats that encourages ladybugs to stay. One year I found tons of ladybugs hanging out in my ornamental grasses in the front yard but they also like marigolds, yarrow, butterfly weed and lots of herbs. Plant a mixture of plants for shelter and plants for pollen. One more tip is to know what the eggs and larvae look like. Eggs are clusters of golden yellow eggs usually laid underneath leaves. Larvae doesn’t really look like adult ladybugs so make sure you know what they look like because they are your friends!

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