Sawfly larvae (c) Rianne Mason

June garden journal

The plants are getting tasty and that means lots of insects to discover! I’ve also been weeding, experimenting with mulch and thinning out snap dragons.

Failing at strawberry mulch

Wool mulch on strawberries (c) Rianne Mason
Lef-tover wool used to stop slugs (c) Rianne Mason

So I failed twice at mulching strawberries this month. The first experiment was using left-over wool to deter slugs. The problem was it also soaks up water so the strawberries got soggy.

The second attempt was using left-over straw and woody stems but it hadn’t fully dried out and created another moist mess.

So I think next year we’ll probably try a sheet before the plants are fully grown.

Pulling out sticky weed

Sticky weed (c) Rianne Mason
Galium aparine (sticky weed) (c) Rianne Mason

I almost don’t want to admit this, but pulling out sticky weed is kind of fun.

Creating tiny presents

Small plant pot (c) Rianne Mason
A tiny Crassula ovata (jade) (c) Rianne Mason

An usually large proportion of my friends have their birthdays in June and July (I must be drawn to Gemini and Cancer signs), so I decided to experiment with some tiny plant gifts.

The good news is they survived the post!

Thinning out snap dragons

Snap dragon seedling (c) Rianne Mason
Antirrinhum seedlings (snapdragon) (c) Rianne Mason

I’m getting quite good at thinning out seedlings now. I must remember to:

  • moisten the soil before planting
  • hold the seedling by it’s leaves (never the roots).

Pruning basil

Basil cuttings (c) Rianne Mason
Ocimum basilicum (sweet basil) prunings (c) Rianne Mason

Something I learnt last year was to stay on top of pruning back my basil to both make the plant more bushy and create delicious pesto!

Learning about lily beetle

Lily beetle (c) Rianne Mason
Adult lily beetle (c) Rianne Mason

This cute little red jewel of a beetle can absolutely destroy lilies. I was lucky enough to see it at all three stages of growth. At larvae stage something pretty gross happens – they cover themselves in their own excrement to deter predators (see below).

Now we all know what to do next time we feel threatened.

Lily beetle damage (c) Rianne Mason
Lily beetle damage and larvae covered in excrement (c) Rianne Mason

Discovering sawfly

Sawfly larvae (c) Rianne Mason
Sawfly larvae destroying Polygonatum × hybridum (Solomon’s seal) (c) Rianne Mason

Although mum was quite upset with these sawfly larvae, when she pulled me over to show me I couldn’t help but be impressed. It was akin to watching a demolition crew! This little lot were systematically destroying each leaf on the Solomon’s seal – must be tasty.

Learning about pupating ladybirds

Pupating ladybird (c) Rianne Mason
Pupating larvae (left) and unknown insect eggs (right) (c) Rianne Mason

When I came across this scene on a strawberry leaf I was left scratching my head. I’d assumed the insect on the left laid the eggs on the right, which was where I went wrong.

Thanks to Super Mum I now know the insect on the left is a pupating ladybird. The eggs on the right are yet to be identified. Do you recognise them?

Removing woolly aphids

Woolly aphid on string of pearl plant (c) Rianne Mason
Woolly aphid on Senecio rowleyanus (string of pearls) (c) Rianne Mason

These woolly blobs look harmless but they make the plant really sticky and take over the plant if left unchecked. Luckily I spotted these during my morning meeting with the house plants. They’re fairly easy to remove with a cotton bud.

Discovering green aphids (again!)

Green aphids on orach (c) Rianne Mason
Green aphids on Atriplex hortensis (Orach mountain spinach) (c) Rianne Mason

This orach plant self-seeded from last year, so has been a bonus plant this year. I left the aphids to it – there’s plenty to go around (probably not the mark of a great gardener…)

Happy summer everyone!

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