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Thursday, August 23, 2007

Weedy Eyesores Blossom into Community Gardens

There's a great little article in the San Francisco Chronicle today about how the City of SF is teaming up with volunteer gardeners to turn weed- and garbage-filled abandoned lots into beautiful community gardens. Curiously, it's the gardeners who seem to be the instigators of the effort, now called the Street Parks Program, rather than the city. There's even a bit about how one intrepid gardener in his 70s rappelled down the side of a hill to clear away the weeds and wears cleats to work on the steep slope of the lot that he gardens. Take a look.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Ladybugs to the Rescue

All summer long I've been watching my Snail vine suffer from a full-on assault by aphids. Every time I watered I blasted them with the hose, but they kept coming back and bringing their friends. It's been so frustrating to think that this vine could be so beautiful but between the frosts last winter and the aphids this summer, it's looking really pathetic. It was time to bring in the troops.

I ordered some Sta-Home Lady Beetles from Gardens Alive and tonight I released them in the garden. The complaint that I've always heard about using ladybugs for aphid control is that you can release hundreds of them and they'll quickly disappear from your garden. But these ladybugs supposedly arrive ready to lay eggs. The eggs hatch within a week, producing an entire crop of very hungry larvae that can't fly away and that are capable of consuming even more aphids than the mature ladybugs. Within a month the original order of 900 ladybugs will produce 10,000 larvae. Now that's a surge!

A friend has also told me that a heavy aphid infestation is an indication that the soil is lacking in phosphorus. I guess the next step is adding regular doses of bone meal to the soil. Any other suggestions? I'm in a take-no-prisoners sort of mood.
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