The Good Thing About All These Freezing Nights

The good thing about all these freezing nights is that they have killed the aphid on the Brussels sprouts. It’s clean pickings now. The whiteflies are still alive, and the aphid on the corn have survived. The leaf miners on the chard did not freeze, and the aphid on them are still moving. I’m beginning to understand why some people don’t like gardening. If you don’t like insects, gardening will bug you (heh, heh), and it would be more fun to just stop by the Farmers market on your way home from the golf course :). Fighting against Mother nature in her onslaught of plant predators can be daunting. There seem to be more adversaries to gardening than proportional beneficials, especially when you consider molds, fungi, mildews, and bacteria. Trillions of wee beasties thwarting your efforts at raising food. The notion of a healthy garden, in tune with nature and flourishing with abundance, is not always possible without constant human intervention.

I went around the garden and pulled the big, brownish colored, outer leaves off all the volunteer Swiss chard. Now I have tidy, symmetrical little green clumps that are much more pleasing to the eye. The circle of small inner leaves can now get more direct sunlight and produce another crop. They are also small enough to be candidates for covering against the harshest of winter temperatures. We got to eat chard all winter long last year because my mini greenhouses kept it from freezing. The greenhouses were especially effective against the birds which, lacking winter forage, devour them to the ground. As spring approaches they begin to grow so fast that they lift the lids off 🙂

Everywhere I worked in the garden yesterday I saw ladybugs. I even saw a mating pair. I realized that the more I clean up the garden, the less chance they have to survive the winter. Good excuse to get out of work :). Using garden waste as mulch is beneficial to them, and the messy areas in all four corners of the garden will be left to help them overwinter. I wonder if my whitefly problem this year was exacerbated by using the leaves they had infected in my composting windrows. Unlike compost piles, the windrows don’t get turned, which can allow parasites to overwinter. I probably shouldn’t use the leaves that have aphids on them, or the ones that have leaf miner maggots in them either. Occulting weed patches in winter can also help parasites to survive because it keeps the ground from freezing too deeply, but the benefits outweigh the negatives.

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