03/22/09 BUGS!!!

March 22, 2009

First, I’ve got to confess defeat.   I haven’t a clue as to how to upload the powerpoint for the IONS lecture of late February.   So I’m actually writing the article I promised.   I’ll get it up soon.

I consider this a Bug.

Otherwise, I’m having other Buggy problems.   I’ve been gardening.   Haven’t done this since I was about 12 years old, which is WAY longer ago than I want to think about.   And back then, my gardening was in Indiana, where the summers began in late spring and ended in September and you had a nice long, and reasonably wet growing season over a humid hot summer.    Now I’m in Austin, Texas, and boy are growing conditions different.

First, I learned we have TWO growing seasons.   The first starts as early as January and wraps up in May or June.  The second begins in October and wraps up in late December.   Summer is considered a wash.  Go inside and sit by the air conditioner.   It takes a miracle just to keep grass growing.

Furthermore, the first growing season requires knowing which plants can take a random frost if you’re willing to cover them up (NOT), and which plants can take cold temperatures without frosts.   If you are willing to bet on one plant-blanket nite, you can start in February, which I did.   I found this handy book that tells you what you can plant in which months, and set out onions, which looked pretty limp and bleak but not in late March are sitting up straight and show some promise.   Then I put in tomatoes and basil.

Pillbugs ate ALL the tomatoes in a single night.  Pill bugs!  “rollypoly’s”.  Damn their armored hides!   (I didn’t know they were pill bugs at first.   I planted more tomatoes and then went out in the middle of the night with a flashlight.  ARMIES of pill bug tanks were swarming and chewing on them.   I heard diatomaceous earth would help, and not having any I grabbed my Shower-to-Shower talc and powdered them heavily.   Next day they were injured but still standing.

I won’t bore you with all the details.   I’ve now planted about 16 tomato plants and have 5 standing.  I also planted marigolds, which the little beasties ate entirely.   I put out a half cantaloupe, upside down, which a web site told me would “attract and trap” them.  It attracted them alright, but half of them stopped by the marigolds, squashes and beans on the way to the cantaloupe.   I didn’t know gardening was War.

Diatomaceous earth does keep them off if you use enough, and if you re-apply after rain or watering.   It’s rumored that once the plants pass the seedling stage the pillbugs will let up.   We’ll see.

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