Thursday, February 17, 2011

Garden helpers

It's going to be a sunny, mild day today with temperatures rising above freezing! I love a good February thaw, although with all this snow, I doubt we'll get much of a thaw.. still, I'll take what I can get at this point! The beautiful sunshine is making me think of summer and one of our favourite garden helpers.. the ladybug. We have a ladybug breeding factory in our mint patch - which is located about a hundred yards from the veggie garden (if you've grown mint before you know why!)

They just love the mint and the kids (and us grown up's) love to spend endless summer afternoons watching the antics of the ladybugs on the shaded mint leaves. All stages of their life cycle are present and we often take handfuls of the larvae and adults up to the veggie garden to control a wide variety of pests like aphids.

Last summer, our sunflower house was beset by aphids - who were being herded and guarded by ants. When we brought up the ladybugs to help control the aphids, the ants would immediately (and aggressively) eject the ladybugs from the plants. It was amazing to watch nature at work and see how these small creatures interact. Don't worry, we rescued the ladybugs and put them in a safer part of the garden! :)

Anyway, here are some photos of our ladybug factory and various stages in their lifecycle.. as well, I included a shot of them on our sweet peas - a very aphid-prone plant, but so essential in a garden..

Happy Gardening!


  1. I've a video clip of the ladybird life cycle on my website here You'll need to scroll down the page a bit and the video was taken pre-digital. I think sometimes our neighbours think we are crazy laying on tummies with cameras pointing at what seems like nothing!

  2. They are such wonderful little beasties. For the first time last year we actually had lots and lots of them in our gardens. Normally there is a few but last year there was a tremendous amount and they did an excellent job of keeping our aphid populations under control...especially the ones on our fruit trees. Hope they return in large numbers again this season. Nice pictures.

  3. I'm really looking forward to your book as I would like to extend my harvest. When and what seeds do you plant first in your cold frame? Can I listen to your radio show online? Do you direct seed your pepperbox poppies or start inside first? Thanks for all your very practical advice.

  4. Hi Garden Girl! Thanks for your kind comments.. We start the first seedings of the year in the cold frame in mid to late Feb - now! :) Things like mizuna, arugula, spinach, leaf lettuces, mache, carrots, beets, etc etc.. so much to grow! in mid-March, I'll stick a few seed potatoes in the frames too for a late May harvest - about the same time most gardeners plant their potatoes in the open garden.

    You can listen to the radio show online - airs it live online.. it will start up again in May and run through October.. I'll post dates as well as details on each show as we're a bit closer.

    The pepperbox poppies are started directly from seed. They can be sprinkled in the garden in early April here (zone 5 b) or once they're established, you can just shake the dried seed heads around the garden to scatter the seeds - super easy! :)

    Thanks for your great questions! Hope you visit the blog again..


Please feel free to leave comments. I welcome your tips, questions, thoughts and ideas (and suggestions for new veggies to grow!)