Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Scourge of the Stalk Borer

Last summer I had problems with stalk borers in my corn patch. In fact, they killed or stunted most of the plants. But that was trivial when compared to the problems I've had with them this year.

The stalk borer is an ugly, brownish striped worm (actually a caterpillar). It eats a hole in the stem of a plant and bores down or up in the center of the stalk. Thus the name. Then the plant either withers and dies, loses branches, or is weakened enough that any little wind will break it off. Apparently, they are the larvae of a little gray moth, which I have yet to spot. I expect that I'll be seeing quite a few of them in the next month or so when the caterpillars are supposed to be maturing. (photo and more information found on this page)

This year I've found them in my peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, tomatillo, beans, corn, and zinnias. One killed the center of my new gaillardia plant. Basically, they seem to attack any plant with a thick stem.

I've tried manually picking them out and squashing them. I've tried spraying them. But I haven't gotten anywhere near all of them. Luckily, once plants are more mature, they can handle the damage better and don't show as much stress from the little beasties. Now I'm looking for ways to limit the numbers of them that invade my garden next year. According to what I've read, they winter over in tall grass and ragweed. I"m mowing EVERYTHING this fall.

Anyone else have any good solutions to this problem? I'm all ears.

Monday, July 26, 2010

My Latest Scheme...Your Thoughts?

Last month as I offered the excess of my strawberry patch to one of my friends, I jokingly stated, "I always seem to have too much garden produce. Maybe I should start a CSA!" Her response got me to thinking. Maybe I should. Thus the scheming began.

As most of you know, I do home daycare to supplement our income, right now just for my nephews. Because my sister and her hubby are teachers, I don't babysit in the summer. This is great because it gives me time to garden! But it would be nice to have a little extra summer income.

For anyone who might not know, CSA stands for community supported agriculture. Basically an interested person buys a "share" from a farmer or gardener for a set price per season (or per month) and in return receives a box, bag, or basket of produce ever week through out the growing season. It's like having a garden, but without the planting, weeding, and harvesting. Of course, they still have to do the cooking! Some CSA's also include recipes with each box that you can make with their produce.

I love to garden. I always manage to plant more than I can use for our family. I always end up giving produce away. So why not plant a bit more of everything and sell the extras instead? I have the space. I could do it on a VERY small scale....I'm thinking 2-4 customers to start with. I did some searching and I can't find any CSA growers in our immediate area. What I don't know if there is a demand for this type of thing. We live in a pretty rural area. Maybe most people who want fresh summer produce have their own gardens? Maybe our local farmers' market supplies any other interested people sufficiently?

So here are my questions for you, loyal readers. (If there are in fact any out there!) Is this something I should pursue? If you're local to me, would you be interested in this type of thing? Do you know anyone else who might be interested as well? What types of things would you like to receive? Anyone have personal experience with this? I"m also looking into getting chickens next spring, for eggs, so I may be able to include eggs in the subscriptions as well at some point. Would that be a good addition?

Oh, and all business ventures should have a name, right? I'm been mulling over this too, and I was having a terrible time thinking of something that didn't sound like the name of a nursing or retirement home! I finally came up with something that I think works for both the daycare and garden. We have mulberry trees all over our property. So I'm thinking of calling our place Mulberry Bush. "The Mulberry Bush" for the daycare and "Mulberry Bush Gardens" for the CSA, if it ever materializes. Your thoughts?

Friday, July 23, 2010


I finally decided that it's time to start blogging again....wonder if I still have any readers left after my long absence? Anyway, here's a quick update on our lives and a few pictures for anyone who doesn't do Facebook....I have quite a few pics on there of the kids, gardens, pets, etc if anyone's interested.

My three little munchkins!

Summer came slowly again this year. It rained a lot, but this year I amazingly kept up with the majority of the weeds. My goal was to have onion and carrot rows that didn't get enveloped by grass this year. I did it! Here's the proof...

We had a bumper crop of strawberries again. So many, in fact, that I had plenty to share with some friends. The raspberries did pretty well too. We've got lots of jam for the winter! Now the beans have started, and the zucchini and cucumbers are producing. I have yet to harvest a ripe tomato, but I'm hoping next week will be the time! Some are slowly starting to turn. The plants are enormous and loaded with green ones, so we'll probably have more of them than we can use again too. After all, I've got 22 tomato plants. Here's Miles beside the "tomato forest".

Yeah. I know. I've got some ideas on putting this excess garden produce that I always seem to have to work for me next year, but more on that in another post.

Kaylee is my little helper. She's the best little babysitter, and Clark loves her. It's hard to believe that she will be 6 soon and starting kindergarten. She's very excited and Mommy is a bit apprehensive :-) Here she is ready to go do her chores in the rain and loving on her baby brother.

Miles turned 3 on the 3rd. He's such a little man already. He's still into trains, so more "Thomas" trains were on the agenda. He also had a very tasty homemade chocolate raspberry birthday cake!

Clark is our little chubby bundle of sunshine. He's growing so fast, and is learning something new every day. He's inches from crawling, and likes to "walk" holding onto someone's fingers, so it won't be long now until he's truly mobile. We have to watch him already because he can roll to whatever he wants it seems. Here he is getting a bath in the kitchen sink. Doesn't every baby album need a photo of the baby naked in the sink? :-)

Rich started a new job in March. He has much better hours, (DAYS!!!) more Sundays off, and a less stressful work environment, so it has been a good move. We haven't been doing much traveling this summer due to his lack of accrued vacation, but we don't mind too much.:-)

As for me, I'm feeling much better. The RA seems to have gone back into remission for now, and have been able to get lots of things done outside. Here's a few snaps of some of my favorite flowers....I"m a firm believer that one can never have too many flowers!

Happy Summer everyone! It's going way to fast, but we're loving every minute of it!