enter the mantis

Things seem to happen so quickly in the greenhouse, so I decided a quick update was in order.  This post is kind of a departure for me, as it will be mostly pictures.  (try to contain yourselves.)

So aphids.  They mostly seem to like my tropicals- hibiscus, brugmansia, and elders in particular.  They love the underside of leaves (like the hibiscus below), and tender new growth that they can easily suck the sap out of.  Their sweet excrement is called “honeydew” and ants love it.  It was the appearance of ants marching up and down the trunk of my brugmansia that originally tipped me off to the aphids.  Quick entomology lesson: Some species of ants will actually “milk” the aphids to get their honeydew and protect them like they are livestock.  Boom.  Symbiosis.  As much as I love a good symbiosis story, these guys gotta GO.

the NERVE of these guys. SHEESH.

They have been the bane of my existence for the last few weeks.

Enter the mantis…. Lucky for us, a praying mantis cocoon stowed away on one of our hibiscus plants and hatched right on cue.  If you’re not already hip to the ways of the praying mantis, they pretty much eat everything.  They are a welcome sight in any garden.  So far, we’ve spotted them perched on plants infested with the dreaded aphid.  Behold, exhibits A, B, and C below….

Damn, are they cute.  These are all brugmansia cuttings that I am propagating.

Thanks to a friend of ours who has an abundance of lady beetles that overwintered in her house, we now have natural predator #2 on our side.  (Incidentally, her last name is Kulp, and one of today’s old journal entries mentions a Kulp.  I just love when synchronicity happens.)  She vacuums them up, brings over her vacuum canister and dumps them on the greenhouse floor.  Simple as that!

action shot!
action shot!

I heard this little guy the other day but couldn’t find where he was hiding.  He finally popped up when I disturbed the straw under the water tank.  Hopefully he eats his fair share of nasty bugs, too.

Aside from the lady beetles, I didn’t plant any of these visitors.  What I’m trying to tell you is that even in this contrived microenvironment, nature is finding ways to bring herself back into balance.  That, to me, is both beautiful and comforting.

Last fall, we were gifted a lemon tree.  I have been waiting anxiously for these lemon blossoms to open since I spotted the buds a couple of weeks ago (I let out a shriek and ran to tell Jeremy!)  Let me just tell you, the scent is intoxicating.

Welp, that’s it for today folks!  Just like I promised, short(ish) and sweet.

On this day in 1950, “St. Patrick’s Day. A very nice day.  I cleaned and sewed and jobbed generally.  Will trying to arrange an Easter program.  Went to the farm, Johnny (I assume this is my dad) asleep.  Didn’t see him.  Mrs. Lillich called on the phone home again.  Car came home, $15.75.  Evening home.”

On this day in 1932 Miriam Keim writes  “Warmer.  A very rainy day.  Esther and I went to church real early to clean sewing room.  Put quilt in for Mrs. (?), finished one and put in another for her.  Sauerkraut dinner, Esther and I both took cakes home at 5.”

On this day in 1885, J.H. Keim writes, “Clear & cold.  Will and I was down to David Kulp’s this afternoon and we were to meeting this eavening.  M Keim preached.”

In among the old journals, there is a recipe book that contains recipes for food as well as folk remedies.  No front cover, and the brown leather back cover is barely hanging on.  Imagine my absolute delight in finding this!  Here’s a couple entries:

Ruth eggless cake:

2 cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons lard

1 cup thick milk and cream

1/2 cup cocoa

1 teaspoon soda in 1/2 cup hot water

2 1/2 cup flour

flavor to taste

They named me for a chocolate cake.  I never had a chance.

Diphtheria Cure:

Take equal quantities of powdered borax and burned alum powdered fine.  Put the mixture in a goose quill or a roll of writing paper, and blow it down the throat of the patient.  Spread a flannel cloth well with goose grease, sprinkle with powdered gum of camphor and put around the throat.  Turkey, duck, or chicken oil will answer, although goose oil is best.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. I have just found your blog and am so excited to be reading all of this! Please tell me where you garden? I am in the state of Maine in the US. I have a beautiful patch of Comfrey on my property and was really enjoying your sharing about how to use it. I also have been enjoying your old journal entries. I have signed up to follow you.

    1. Ruthie says:

      Hi Shirley! Thank you for the kind words and for signing up to follow me! I live and tend my earthspace in southeastern Pennsylvania- zone 6a/6b. There is a saying that goes something to the effect of “Where comfrey grows, there lives a woman wise in the way of plants.” Tend her lovingly and she will love you back!

      Green blessings,
      Ruthie. 🙂

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