- Author: Launa Herrmann
“Looks like a new leaf just sprouted,” my husband said, pointing to the succulent plant sitting atop our patio table. After I unloaded the lunch tray of sandwiches I was carrying, I glanced at what had suddenly caught his interest.
The more I stared, the more I saw — eyes, legs, long thin antennae. “I don't think that is a leaf,” I said. “Looks like a katydid.” For the past couple years my grandson and I have enjoyed playing the game of “Bug Bingo,” and sure enough, I found the exact card I remembered. (See below)
Interesting enough, further research revealed katydids are nocturnal. So I assume the visitor to my yard was both thirsty and hungry as it appeared to be nibbling on the new tender growth of the plant and perhaps had also discovered the aphids nearby.
Also called bush crickets or long-horned grasshoppers, this member of the cricket family Tettigoniidae enjoys a diet of not only leaves but flowers, seeds and bark. Some species prey on insects, while other larger katydids have been known to feed on small vertebrates. Found on every continent except Antarctica, katydids live up to a year. Females are usually larger than males.
After reviewing the UC IPM information on katydids and their love of citrus leaves, I decided “to nip this new leaf in the bud” so to speak because I enjoy the small crop of oranges I pick each year from one of the few trees left in my small yard. For further details on katydids and citrus, visit http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/r107300411.html
Also, I highly recommend the game of Bug Bingo. Before my grandson started school he knew the stages of metamorphosis, and we both had such fun learning about the Ichneumon wasp, Cicada and so much more. He's nine now and is quite a pest detector. For more information, check out www.lucybingogames.com
- Author: Betsy Buxton
I thought – ok, I had hoped—that by this time I would have gotten the last of the plants I need (want) for the front yard, gotten my 5-6 mini boulders from the local rock company, and be ready to finish installing the drip conversation system in place. THEN, I could plant up the “new” front yard and be done. Not so fast there, Freddy! Instead, I've been sidelined by the heat and humidity.
I now realize that I am a true child of California. You know, the heat with some breeze and the low, low humidity index; the kind of weather you don't find in Ohio or the rest of the Mid-West. Bruce handles this weather very well (the Ohio kid) while I melt faster than ice cube on the sidewalk. Wow, I just don't do this weather well at all.
That's the reason why the roses sit in place but in their nursery pots while I putter outside for awhile and then zip back in for a cool place. I found that the heat tips that Jennifer gave us are getting a hearty work-out from me! From wearing light colored clothes complete with visored-headwear to having plenty of water and other liquids nearby to guzzle by the quart. My bushes that I planted years ago around the perimeter of the yard help too: privets – nobodies real favorite, but a welcome small shade tree in the hot sun; bottle brushes which are now at least 10 feet tall and branch over near the fence to allow me to also avoid the sun for a moment or two.
Next week, it's off to the nursery in Richmond to gather the rest of plant material for the front yard and then move things around until they cry out “My place!” and I can start working in earnest. For me, this is getting to the best time of the year to work in the yard – putting in the newly purchased spring bulbs and cleaning out the debris from last spring and summer – and checking out how my “babies” made it through this long dry spell. Some things made it through beautifully while others, mainly the older, more mature roses, didn't.
Rose die off was bad this year. The ‘Iceberg', usually is a carefree plant; this year the large, older canes died back and left rather puny new growth in their places. However, ‘Sea Shell' did an outstanding job of cane growth and bloom; usually, it's so-so plant blooming but this year was a bumper crop of blooms. ‘Peace' had cane die off too, but stepped up in mid-summer and produced the magnificent blooms I expected.
I can only hope that the rain last night was a portent of the weather to come later this fall and winter. I know all of you hope so too!
- Author: Betty Victor
The Master Gardeners of Solano County are getting ready for our annual Wreath Workshop.
This year's always fun and lively workshop will be held on Saturday December 5, 2015 from 1-4pm, in the outbuilding of St. Mary's Catholic Church located at 350 Stinson St., Vacaville.
The cost is $50.00 to make one wreath for this you will get a box of greens, a wire frame, wire, and ribbon of different colors for a bow of your choice. Also to add to your wreath there will be decoration, including but not limited to hydrangeas, sedum, agapanthus, pine cone all sizes and oh so much more to beautify your wreath. If you have some decorations you want on your wreath, please bring them.
There will also be “The Marketplace”. Where you can purchase items made by the master gardeners. Cash or checks only, no credit cards, please. This Marketplace earned monies help us to put on programs on all aspects of gardening for the adults and children in the county.
Space is limited so if you would like to make a wreath of your own design contact: Jennifer at 707-784-1321 or e-mail Jmbaumbach@ucanr.edu.
- Author: Pamela Allen
Here is a secret for you, I have very little gardening talent. The seeds and plants that find their way into my yard quickly learn it is a ‘survival of the fittest' environment. I always plants with the best of intentions, but life always seems to get in the way. Did I water today? Can it wait until tomorrow? I just don't have time now! And when seedlings do not survive, I have the bad habit of reusing planters, soil and all. Normally this is not an issue, unless I am growing something new, something I will not recognize, from seed.
Here is my cautionary tale…recently we have all heard about the plight of the Monarch Butterfly. Loss of habitat and increased use of chemicals and pesticides are causing a dramatic reduction in the numbers of these majestic creatures. I decided I would plant some milkweed. I ordered two varieties from my favorite seed company, Swamp Milkweed, Asclepias incarnate and Butterfly Milkweed, Asclepias tuberlosa. I picked up a planter of failed seedlings, soil and all, and planted both varieties of seeds waiting anxiously for my milkweed to appear, and it did (Or so I thought!).
Take a look at my beautiful milkweed!
- Author: Betsy Buxton
Here I am in the middle of a drought and I'm trying to decide what to plant in my former very small lawn. Using the process of elimination, I have looked at plants: roses, perennials, decorative grasses, etc, to use the space wisely and water efficiently, so there won't need for a re-makeover in the near future.
The in-ground spray system has been converted to drip, that is 4 heads were, and the others capped off underground. I used an easier system this time than the other conversations of sprinklers that required digging rather deep holes to remove the old sprinkler bodies. At the local irrigation store I found a kit that allowed me to replace just the “innards'” of the body and leave the outer body in the ground OR replace the whole sprinkler. I chose to replace the entire bodies for 2 reasons: a. 1 of the sprinklers to be replaced was a 12” popup and b. the others where at least 25 years old and had large tree roots putting pressure on them. Regardless of the method, the changeover was reasonably fast and painless.
Next, is a trip down to Annie's Annuals for the geum species I want, and another trip to the nearby rock and boulder store down the way for 5 mini-boulders. A couple of small linear leafed plants, perhaps festuca glauca or a similar little thing and a slow-growing groundcover (such an oxymoron) and I'm done with plant selection. Hey, I can hear the sniggering now (she's going where for a “few” plants, yeah right!)
I figure with a yellow rose with a deep purple Clematis growing through it, Weigela ‘Wine and Roses' (with deep purple new growth maturing to a purplish green) providing leaf color, the geums providing small hills of fuzzy green and orange-red blossoms, and finally a multicolored pink rose with a white clematis through it, I've got color, texture, and a reasonable drought tolerant front scape to last a good long while. Letting the plants show themselves off against the red mini-oleanders and the bright yellow-green of the already established Magnolia stellata will make the front yard look as 1 landscape. Toss down the mini-boulders in groupings and then mulch – Tad as Wall I would say. I'm done except for. ..replacing a fence, cleaning out where 2 Rhus lancea were removed when the poor dears decided to slip down and “kiss the fence”. Now there's sun where I worked so hard for shade. Oh well, that's the way the garden grows!
I'm closing with a warning about something that happened in my house a few days ago. This doesn't have anything to do with gardening BUT if this next part keeps you and yours safe, then great! I have a 52” ceiling fan in my family room that gets used almost every day and evening rather than use the AC. Bruce and I were sitting there, him almost dozing and me listening to the TV but reading. Suddenly, something flew by my head and there was a huge crash. Looking up, I saw the fan wobbling wildly up there and thought at first it was an earthquake. Nope!! One of the brackets holding a fan blade had broken and thrown the blade through the room and into the kitchen eating area where it bounced off the table leg and fell within 6 inches of the sliding door! If this had happened when my mother was alive she would be truly dead! If my dog was lying in front of the sliding door, she could have been killed as the blade landed right in “her” spot. What I'm saying is, if you have a ceiling fan, check the blades and the connectors for metal fatigue, loose fasteners, etc. My fan is 25 years old and came with the house. Please, do some checking!