Tuesday, July 10, 2012
Sow Bugs, Earwigs, and Chilean Mesquite!
First the bugs:
As a few of you probably know, I recently bought a little place in Lucerne, (Lake County) California. (Seems there are two Lucerne’s in California.) Developing a balanced garden ecosystem takes time, and I am definitely not there yet. In the battle between plants and bugs, in many cases the bugs have been winning. Sow bugs and earwigs, both beneficial creatures when their populations are in balance, have been turning the leaves of many plants into an ugly imitation of lace.
I have read and tried a number of organic and non-toxic tactics. I finally have a success! I made a "trap" using one tablespoon of molasses and 2/3 cup of water--which I poured into a shallow deli take out container. (The liquid was about 3/4 inch from the top.) I nestled it into the mulch around a plant that has been getting hit hard and added a couple of handfuls of mulch around the edges to provide very easy access. This morning there were probably at least 100 drowned bugs in there! More molasses traps will be appearing in my yard soon.
Creating a garden ecosystem is an effort that takes time and experimentation. Lake County California has a semi arid climate; worse lately with drought and the solar maximum that is slowly building. The town of Lucerne also has one of the highest water rates in the country. Bills for two people households that do no outside watering average around $150.00 (every other month). Even up in Hoopa, (where most of the posts in this blog originated) and before the solar maximum, I found that most garden plants benefited from filtered shade for at least part of the day. With this in mind I have been doing some research on trees that would possibly be adapted to the climate here and that would fix nitrogen, carbon, and provide food. Mesquite crossed my mind as a good candidate. When a friend of mine reminded me of their thorns, I did a search on thornless mesquite and began reading about Chilean Mesquite.
I found and ordered seeds on E-bay, and then researched how to germinate them. The seeds arrived still in sections of their pods. (They are not easy to remove.) I put about six of the pod sections in a heat proof dish, and then poured boiling water over them. (That was the best plan, according to what I had read on-line.) The next day, after soaking for nearly 24 hours, I was able to work the meat off the seed capsules, cut through the capsules, and squeeze the seed out. (It still wasn’t easy.)
Then, carefully grasping each small seed, I scarified one edge (and my fingernails as well) by rubbing them against a piece of coarse sandpaper. I was very careful not to damage the pointed end of the seed, where the root would emerge. The seeds were then placed on a folded paper towel, inside a ziplock bag, and some of their soak liquid was used to moisten the paper towel thoroughly. I read that they liked to be hot—so I placed the baggy on a warm shelf out on the sun porch, and then brought it into the house over night. This morning, less than 24 hours later, the first seed is clearly germinating and the rest are swelling and look viable! At least some of those little seeds will hopefully one day be big trees! And that is part of what I live for . . .