This week we released ladybugs into the greenhouse to help control aphids. This is a safe and effective alternative to chemicals. Ladybug larvae will consume 400 medium sized aphids during it's development to the pupal stage. An adult ladybug can eat as much as 5,000 aphids during it's lifetime! 5,000 aphids in a year, that's impressive!
It is easy to order ladybugs off the internet and I have provide a link to California-native ladybugs below. It is important that you are purchasing native ladybugs and NOT the Asian variety.
Asian ladybugs were purposely introduced to American in the later half of the 1900's by the Department of Agriculture to help control crop pests such as aphids and scale. Although they did do that is was learned that they are not as friendly as the native version. Asian ladybugs bite for one. They also will overwinter in your house if they can find a way in. Once they are in they may stain your walls and furniture with the sticky yellow fluid they secrete.
This certainly detracts from all those "ooh, aren't they cute" feelings we have when we see a ladybug. Can you imagine being worried about letting a child hold a ladybug because it might bite them? That just isn't right. Please buy only native ladybugs.
If you come across a ladybug an want to be sure it is of the native sort then check for a white spot at the back of it's head. If you find that white spot you may want to pass on picking it up but I will leave that up to you.
Once you receive your ladybugs put them in the fridge until you are ready to use them. It is best to release them in the evening. Before you let them out make sure there is a quick food source for them. You can buy lady bug food along with your ladybugs. This just gives them a boost after their long trip to your house. We use a powder form that you sprinkle on your plants then gently water. After this your ladybugs are all set to chow down on all those unwelcome guests in your garden. Remember that you don't have to release all your ladybugs at once. Save some in the fridge for 2-3 months. The longer they are stored the more likely some will be lost but it is good to have multiple releases to ensure that your pest problem is taken care of.
Like I stated in the video, ladybugs eat nectar when there are no pest around for them to munch on. Having flowering plants and herbs increases your chance of them sticking around for any future pests problems.
If you have an infestation ladybugs are not going to be enough. In this case I would recommend Safer Soap. It is a soap based insecticide that uses potassium fatty acids to kill arthropods and soft bodied insects. It works by breaking down the outer shell of the insect. NO synthetic chemicals involved. It is OMRI listed and compliant for organic horticultural practice. Simply spray it on and by the next day the little aphids are brown and all dried up. Reapply in several days, or anytime you see any new aphids to make sure you get any new hatchlings .
Have you ever used ladybugs before? How about Safer Soap insecticides?
Happy, healthy, clean eating!
We have been having so much fun in the greenhouse. We are so blessed and so grateful to have it! This is our first spring growing in it and everything has been going really well. I hope you enjoy the video! I've had a cold so please overlook all my sniffles.
*One clarification-We have had regular bak choi just not the baby version.
With the greenhouse doing so well, and multiple crops ready for harvest, I headed out to get some veggies for our dinner- stir fry. This is what I came back with: baby pak choi, spinach, Swiss chard, and onion trimmings. Dinner is going to be yummy!
Happy, healthy , clean eating!
Do you grow onions from seeds or do you use onions sets? Onions sets give you a jump start but for just a little more work you can grow onions from seed and greatly broaden the variety which you are able to grow.
At Rolling Hills Farm we always looks for heirloom varieties for our gardens. This year we are growing:
Stuttgarter- This is a medium sized yellow onion with a strong onion flavor. It produces well and stores well too. If you grow enough, and store them properly, they will last you until the following spring without going bad.
Alisa Craig- A large (it can get up to 5lbs) globe onion that was introduced in 1887. It came from the gardener of Marquis of Alisa at Culzean Castle in Maybole, South Ayrshire, Scotland. The gardener, David Murray, must have been pretty pleased with these great onions.
Southport White Globe- This little onion has quite the history. It was developed and grown in Southport Connecticut along the Mill river. From here, the then "onion capital", it was exported by the millions. These onions became very important during the Civil war when they were pickled and used to keep scurvy away. It was considered the "best white onion for market" by Seedsman Thomas Griswold.
Southport Purple Globe- As the name states, the red version of the Southport onion. It was released in 1873.
All of these onions are considered to be long day type onions. This means they need long days to grow properly. If you live in the north this is what you want. As you move south, you will want a short day variety. Always very important to consider when picking out which onions you are going to grow.
We also grow multiplier onions. Multiplier onions are planted in the fall and harvested in mid to late summer. You plant one onion in the fall and it grows into as much as 10 or 12 by harvest.
You can learn more about them and how we harvest them here.
Onions require a long growing season to reach full maturity so they are typically started in early February here in ND. It only takes a few weeks for them to become long and tangled. The onions in the picture below are 5 plus inches long. Time for a hair cut!
Trimming onions is very simple. All you need to do is cut them back to about 1 1/2 in tall. That's it and you can eat all the trimmings. Rinse them off and use them like chives. They go great in quiche. You might want to try this quiche recipe.
When you are all done with the hair cut your onions should look like they had a little mini lawn mower go over them. You will be amazed at how quickly they grow back. When they start to get long and tangled again give them another hair cut. You will want to to this several times. Each time you trim back the greens it forces the plants to put more energy into their roots and that is makes for more vigorous, and larger onions.
If you are a gardener and you haven't tried growing onions from seeds before then don't be afraid to try. If you don't have the space or time then sign up for our CSA and you can still enjoy heirloom onions varieties ( as well as all the other heirloom vegetables that we grow!).
Happy, healthy, clean eating,
We are so blessed to be able to have a greenhouse. I know God has helped with it every step of the way. May we always be receptive to all His teaching in all matters greenhouse and otherwise!
I hope you enjoyed your greenhouse tour! Let me know what you think in the comment section below. Do you have a greenhouse? How do you heat it? I'd love to hear what you are up to.
Hello, I'm Jaci. I love gardening and being outside in God's amazing creation. I'm passionate about whole foods and clean eating. I look forward to sharing my farming adventures and helping you reach your gardening goals!