The garden guild meeting was very informative on revving up our gardens and landscapes and thereby decreasing or eliminating our pest problems. Richard had a few books and websites to recommend and gave away PRIZES! I am looking forward to using the Orange oil in the garden as it smells good and will deter pests. We also had a lively discussion on aphids. Do we squish them or squirt them or what? Also talked about ladybugs as the predator for aphids and how ants herd them.
Found out the snails I have that go nuts every spring are called Decollate Snails. They were imported for the purpose of controlling brown garden snails. They track them down and eat them! (slugs, too) If you are getting too many, hand pick them and move them away but you may suddenly have lots of other snails, slugs, and pill bugs to contend with. The like to hide under decomposing debris so getting the leaves out of the garden last year helped a lot. They also do not seem to be attracted to well established plants but do feast on new transplants so they need plastic collars (the plants not the snails!)
We are continuing to till the new beds and bring in more compost to spiff them up. The soil looks really good but is not taking moisture too well so I am thinking enough compost and need a bit more of the vermiculite and peat moss in them. We put out the geraniums that wintered over in the sunroom along with some vincas and the begonias this week. I split up one of the blue salvias as it has many babies and spread it around. Several others are popping up so we'll get them spread out too in the next couple of weeks. I saw a bud on one of the irises that I transplanted last fall so spring must be coming fast.
The vegetable beds look wonderful and full with lots of lettuce, chard, beets, onions, and peas. About half of the potato starts survived the freeze and seem to be thriving. The carrots are popping up too and I transplanted 6 of the tomato plants to a big bed. I used bagged organic garden soil mixed with some of last year's potting soil for their pots and the plants seem to have loved it---great root systems. I tried something new and put a layer of vermiculite in the bottom of the pot so I could bottom water them only and have not had one damp off. Must be a good plan.
Last addition to the ever expanding space is the orange homemade earth boxes. I am trying this for the peppers to see if this will keep them more evenly moist. I have 2 done and 1 more to go plus a few double buckets to use in the same way. I am also trying out the colored mulches this year--red plastic and silver foil to see if there is anything in this.