It’s early June and the leaves are out and green and flowers are blooming! Our house and yard is surrounded by a heavily wooded area so there are your usual concerns in the summer like ticks, poison ivy and mosquitos.
But this year, there was a new concern. As I got out to start working in my garden weeding and planting, I noticed something strange. When I was anywhere near the woods surrounding my house, I would hear what sounded like light raindrops on the leaves of the trees. So I would look up and the sky was clear. Then I noticed my awesome rose bushes that survive being buried under feet of plowed snow every winter weren’t doing well. Something was eating them, but I didn’t know what.
I went out to the roses to start spraying and I found the culprit. Three different kinds of caterpillars! It was like I was living inside Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar book. The kids got a bucket and as we started collecting the caterpillars, the bucket quickly filled up. We must have collected at least 50 caterpillars off of 4 bushes.
Then it hit me, the sound in the woods was the munching! There are so many caterpillars eating their way through everything that you can actually hear a chorus of chomping. The small fuzzy black ones like the trees, roses, and to be on the house. The green ones were parachuting from trees and would be dangling mid air; so many at one point you had to be careful not to walk into them. Then there are the blue ones that I remember collecting as a child because I though they were so pretty, but now I am not liking them so much. I found all varieties on my rose bushes and from what I read, they are into fruit trees as well.
I did some research and think part of the problem is the Winter Moth population was high in November and December and were successful mating which in turn hatched these wonderful creatures this spring. And, I also read that they like to go for the buds of plants/trees which then seems to destroy the branch. (Click on the picture of the article for more info.)
Within two days after spraying the rose bushes with the fungicide, my rose buses were producing new growth and there were new blooms and 99% of the caterpillars were gone and after four days two of them were in full bloom!
Last year I was looking for ideas for using an old pallet and I came across this picture on Pinterest.
It looked easy enough. I bought landscape fabric for the backing and a staple gun and got to work. After fastening the landscape fabric to the back of the pallet, I flipped it over and started filling it with soil. When my husband came home from work, we tried to lift it up and snap, snap, snap, the soil was too heavy and the fabric came unattached and soil started spilling out. Ok, now what? I went back to the hardware store and bought a piece of plywood. So after reattaching the fabric, we added the plywood for extra support and I started planting. Oops, big mistake. Once we lifted it, the plants all sunk as the soil went south. So I fixed all the plants once it was upright and bought a package of wood with pieces that were ruler size and cut them into smaller pieces and placed them as a support under each plant so it wouldn’t fall. What a mess, by July, this is what it looked like! Plants were rotting and falling and the soil kept sinking. Note to self, reuse pallet next year for something else!
And that is what I did. After I cleaned out all the soil, ripped the landscape fabric off and hosed it down, I leaned it back up against the house and looked at it for a long time, loving the pallet so much and wondering what I could do with it that still involved flowers. That is when I thought of hanging buckets of flowers off the pallet. I went on Amazon to search for something and found these buckets and hooks:
Then I went to the local greenhouse and bought some flowers and also uprooted some pansies that decided to grow in my grass.
I filled the buckets and planted the flowers, hung them up and wow! Looks so much better than last year!