First : plant flowers for the bees and butterflies

 First:  When we began to develop  the place I planted flowers. The flower garden is such an important part of ANY property.  Especially any place that I am. I was new here so I had to do my  homework and find the flowers that LOVE neglect and love to live right HERE. I had to  find plants that were  native to our environment. Among others – Coneflowers are one of the natives that grow really happily around here. And the label said native and invasive and it has a bright juicy flower –  so I bought one of each and then divided them  and just let them have at it!

Once I  had my flowers then I got hordes of these guys flying about.  I have a number of flower gardens that are getting bigger every year, well Our John was sick of mowing grass  anyway.   And of course our bees need millions of  flowers.
 And yes the gardens are all about the bees. However sometimes other insect life creates problems. We are in a land of extremes. Here the pests come in droves, stay awhile and then leave just as suddenly. The year before last we had a plague of aphids – you could not breathe, they just stopped everything, the air was dark with them, it was so bizarre and deeply unsettling.  Almost biblical except they were APHIDS!  We had to hold cloths over our faces as we ran through these immense clouds of migrating aphids to and from the barn to the house.  The animals were almost driven mad, these tiny tiny bugs took up all the air.  They were coughing desperately trying to take a breath without inhaling the little buggers. They were here two days in a row then gone.

And look below for pest of the week, an introduced pest – this guy is not a native and  he does not take up my air but this Japanese Beetle eats tons and tons of leaves. He eats everything in sight, silently. We have had trees stripped of all the green in their leaves, just left with these miserable skeletal leaves.  He is voracious, greedy and my ENEMY!

 This year they landed in the asparagus and then decimated the grape vine.   In a day.  I was appalled. I do not use pesticides. But you can kill them as long as you get the timing right. When they are really dense. Get the dishwashing liquid, (I use Dawn – I know it is not natural but something had to be done) water it down a bit, load up a wee sprayer and SOAK them.  Just douse them in the stuff. I stood out there two nights in a row (after all good self respecting bees and butterflies and husbands were in bed) and sprayed with my little hand sprayer until my little hand about dropped off.  Slowly working up and down the rows. And they DIED!  I was thrilled.  I was cackling with delight. Doing a little murderous caper. I was the sweet old lady knitting at the guillitine.

Though we are a wee bit worried that the wine will taste soapy this year. And there is no need for a summer prune just yet as most of the leaves have gone.. eaten in just a few hours. But fingers crossed.  No other insects were harmed.  And maybe we will still get grapes for the wine. Our first iddy biddy vintage this year so stay posted for that.

But I have digressed.  Back to the journey into the cycle of sustainable farming.   (I am still not happy with the label) But as I said: The first thing I did when I began to develop our little property was plant flowers,  (and now I have this wonderful insect life for my birds and flowers for the bees and me) and after the flowers came the vegetable gardens and next I got a box of chickens delivered in the mail, then we bought Daisy.

Tomorrow I will tell you about the chickens and how they fit in. They do more than lay eggs you know.  I will go out and take some shots of them now.  Then I will make another batch of pickles.   And maybe some crostini to go with the pickles. And what are we  going to have for dinner?.  I had better go out into the garden and see what is ready!

Well, I guess it is crostini and pickles and cheese for dinner. Did I tell you that I made that pound cake?  It did not make it to the camera though.. got pounced on!

Talk to you soon.

c

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