Thursday, April 29, 2010

A real stinker...

After a strange little beast landed on my shoulder while watching a movie at a friend's house, I was immediately informed to remain still until the little guy was captured and removed. Not killed or squashed, mind you, simply removed. Apparently, they stink when threatened or killed. I have not as of yet witnessed this noxious odor myself so I can't help describe to you the scent, however I may be doing a little devious experimentation this spring next time I see one...don't tell PETA.

Halyomorhpa halys or "the brown marmorated stink bug" are from China and they showed up about a decade ago on the east coast. They've now made their way to several states including Oregon. Apparently, fruit and soybeans are at the top of their list of munchables. Great, just what our berries need. It's not known what kind of threat they are yet (at least it's not known to me) to our crops although they can infest and overwinter in your home and cause quite a ruckus because of their odor. It's best to seal up all the cracks and windows before they get a foothold into your house.

Clumsy fliers with bad breath-they won't be making a lot of friends in the new country they call home...

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Introducing the tiniest horse in the world...Einstein

Prepare yourself for total and complete cuteness as you click on this link:

Plant banishment

The Meyer Lemon Tree has fallen out of favor. I've not completely given up on it yet, but after I woke up one morning to an army of ants swarming on and around it and marching towards the kitchen I grabbed it and banished it to the fire escape-I haven't visited it since then.

Normally, I'm less cruel and quickly kill plants I don't like or that are dying. But I'm going to give this guy one more chance if he has the will to live. I'm going to re-pot it and stick it outside even though it's still really much too cool for it here in Portland. I simply can't bring it back inside what with the sap suckers and now the ants. Still, I can't seem to completely toss it, esp since it was given to me as a gift. You have one more chance Meyer...

Monday, April 26, 2010

Problems with Powdery Mildew

Powdery mildew happens to be one of my most hated of plant diseases. It's a fungus that rears its ugly head come spring and it's spread by spores that hang out in your soil or travel to your garden via wind and birds. Basically, it sucks.

The first line of defense is to grow disease resistant plants. I've seen powdery mildew affecting everything from forget-me-nots and roses, to boxwood and bee balm. Do some research on varieties that are less likely to get infected.

Nip it in the bud. Remove affected leaves and buds once you detect the fungus. Spray with a fungicide of your choice. I've had good results with neem and a homemade garlic spray. Don't let diseased leaves sit around in your yard. Rake them up and get rid of them. (Don't put them in your compost, you'll just spread it back into the garden).

Water in the morning and water the base of the plant allowing the leaves to stay dry. Powdery mildew likes humidity and heat and if you overhead water in the summer you'll increase the chance of spreading the disease.

If you just can't get rid of it, consider removing the plant and replacing it with that pretty Japanese iris you've been admiring in your neighbor's yard...

Friday, April 23, 2010

Discover the Encyclopedia of Life

The Encyclopedia of Life is an ambitious project launched by E.O. Wilson, a biologist, naturalist and author whose goal is to document all the living species on earth on one site. No small task, for sure, considering there may be at least 1.9 million and counting. Experts and non-experts alike are encouraged to take photos and send them in for a look see. Next time you go scuba diving in Australia and you're convinced you've discovered a new species of nudibranch, take a picture and send it in. You may, however, want to hold off on sending in pictures of your cat or that wierd looking worm you just dug up in your garden-it's probably already in their system...

Monday, April 19, 2010

Birds gone wild

A woodpecker relative known as a Northern Flicker has moved into the city hall building in Lake Oswego, Or. I've actually had the misfortune of having one of these birds mark its territory by pecking at the metal covering on the chimney over my bedroom when I was in high school. The flicker is an intense pecker-if you know what I mean. Every morning at 5 am I awoke not to the relaxing sounds of chirping and song, but to what sounded like heavy machine gun fire.

It took me awhile to figure out where the sound was coming from and my parents thought I was going nuts until they finally heard it. And, like the beleaguered city manager, we were at a loss as to what to do. I think finally my dad settled on shouting and arm waving-eventually graduating to launching stones and heavy cones at it. It would not be swayed. It returned to our chimney all spring until it finally moved on to annoy the crap out of someone in Canada.

Check out this link and enjoy the schadenfreude...

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Voyeurism at its finest

I'm posting this link to our local "raptor cam" that spies on a mother red-tailed hawk as she incubates her eggs here in downtown Portland. Basically, it's kind of boring but the eggs should be hatching any day now and so it gets a little more suspenseful. Do yourself a favor and avoid reading the comments unless you enjoy observing weird human behaviors as much as you enjoy bird watching...

Raptor Cam Link

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Make a knit hat from your rabbit

Want an animal with more fur than face? Consider an English Angora Rabbit like this one pictured. They are nice, friendly creatures with only one main concern; grooming.

These cute not-so-little tribbles need to be shorn every ninety days lest they succumb to a condition called "wool block" in which they injest more wool than they can digest. Shear them regularly and feed them lots of quality hay so that PETA doesn't show up on your doorstep launching vials of fake blood at you and your children.

Oh, and, oddly enough, Angora rabbits are good for people with allergies as they do not carry the same allergens as other rabbits and pets. Take your pick between the English, the French, the German, the Satin, and the Giant. Who wouldn't want a giant rabbit? The bigger, the better eh?

Thursday, April 1, 2010

My Meyer Lemon is Crying

Now I remember why I don't keep houseplants. They are fussy little fuss-budgets and rightly so-I would be too if someone kept me in a box, gave me an occasional glass of water, didn't let me shower and kept me on a restricted diet.

So I know nothing about citrus plants except that they need sun and that I really can't provide in Portland, in April. I'm hoping that I can repot it and keep it alive until summer-at which point it's going outside and soaking up the sun.

Something is eating it. There is sticky stuff on the leaves so I'm thinking that it may have a sap-eater. Some leaves are notched and whatever the culprit it snacks at night. I really don't know what else to do at this point except to repot it and spray the leaves. I could keep it under a lamp, but is this realistic?

I could get rid of it. Bring it to a farm upstate, "take it to the river." But what do I tell my friend that gave it to me? Now I feel guilty. Now I have to nurse it back to life. Thanks Catholicism.