Thursday, October 23, 2008


In my quest to prove to my husband that I can save money by growing plants from seed, I split and potted up about 10 Pelargonium plants (zonal geranium) that I had started from seed last Winter. I found a home for them near a sunny window in the basement, and hoped for the best. (Here's information about keeping your Pelargonium's alive until Spring i.e. overwintering).

Some people don't really like Pelargoniums, but I think I'm a fan out of nostalgia; my grandparents always grew them in a pot on their patio, next to a statue of St. Francis. They are pretty drought tolerant and they were really easy to grow from seed, so I'm not giving up on them.

However, I may have to -- I went to check on them in the basement, to see if they were alive or needed water. To my dismay, they were clearly being eaten. There were little holes in the leaves, or sometimes entire leaves eaten to the stem. On closer scrutiny, I was thoroughly grossed out to discover little green worms were the culprits. Some were tiny, others were more than an inch long. I picked off as many as I could find, and went about researching if my plants were goners.

After some googling, my suspicion is that the worms are cabbage loopers. I did buy some Dipel Dust (an organic bacterial insecticide, which kills the worms), and I'm hoping it will do the trick. It's possible I have Tobacco Budworm, a common Pelargonium/Geranium pest, but the worms weren't reddish or brownish, and the Dipel might work on them too.

Wish me Luck!


P.S. Why is there so much confusion over Geranium's? If I refer to them as Pelargoniums, no one has any idea what I'm talking about, but Geranium is actually the scientific name for a Cranesbill. Which are much more rare (though awesome)...

Photo credit: Extension Entomology, Texas A&M University

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Even Less Mowing!

Why, you may be wondering, have I posted a pic of some grass, a pile of compost, and some scraggly looking plants? In fact, you are witnessing the birth of my newest plan, tentatively titled, "The Hedgey Strip." As part of the plan, I spent the last few glorious October days expanding the strip of earth that borders the fence in an effort to bring some sort of organization to the chaos that has been reigning thus far in the Side-yard.

You see, the yard has this gentle slope and anything I have planted near the fence is at eye-level and provides little privacy. You can sort of see the slope from this angle, and the reason why I might want to have more privacy (and it's not to hide the kid's toys, Maria). The only way I can think to solve this problem (besides ripping out the existing fence and adding one that's 2 feet taller) is by planting further up the slope in certain areas. In the early summer, I bought a bunch of tall grasses to make sort of a hedge, but I haven't been happy with the results. The grasses have done fine, but they have a tendency to get beat up by the winds that wip up the street and hit my corner lot. So now I've expanded 75% of the bed (for more flowers, of course) and I'm researching/contemplating what kind of plants to fill it in with. Whatever I plant has to be pretty wind resistant, take full sun, kind of erect (since I don't want anything flopping onto the turf that borders the bed), and pretty too. This problem may take a while to solve, but luckily I have all Winter to ruminate! -- I'm trying to accentuate the postive aspects of the upcoming season.

I leave you with this picture of Frog-gardener, the mascot for my yard. He's bedding down for the Winter, surrounded by Siberian Iris and Columbine, dreaming of Spring. I probably won't be posting much as it gets colder, so Happy Fall!