Mantis - Friend or Foe?
Your Own Broom
Praying Mantis - Friend or Foe?
by Arzeena Hamir Not many
gardeners come into contact with a praying mantis but few can deny
that they've heard of the infamous way in which the insects mate.
While the female can indeed feed on its mate's head during
copulation, praying mantis also have other amazing features. The
mantid is the only predator which is fast enough to catch mosquitoes
and flies. It is also the only insect that can turn its head all the
way around (180 degrees).
Praying mantis have voracious appetites and will eat a variety of
insects including aphids, grasshoppers, fruit flies, house flies,
moths and crickets. However, in addition to these insects, praying
mantis will also eat beneficial insects like hover flies and
lacewings. If you're a gardener who is contemplating using praying
mantis for pest control, do keep this in mind.
Most praying mantis are sold as egg cases; each egg case will
hatch between 50-200 young nymphs. For the best pest control, use 3
egg cases for a garden under 5,000 sq. ft. We recommend that you use
your egg cases immediately although they can be refrigerated for up
to a week after receiving them. You can either hang the egg case
outside and allow the young nymphs to escape, or you can set up a
Indoor Care of Praying Mantis
Set up a terrarium with in a fish tank, gold fish bowl, yogurt
container, or even a jam jar. Whatever type of container is used, a
stick or branch should be provided for the insects to hang from as
well as a small dish of water in the bottom to add humidity to the
enclosure. Place mesh over the top of the container to prevent the
young from escaping but still allow air and food to be put in. The
temperature should be kept at approximately 25-28 C (75-80 F). The
easiest way of maintaining the temperature is by using an under tank
heating mat. Keep the container out of direct sunlight and maintain
a humid atmosphere by misting everyday.
Feeding Praying Mantis
The young nymphs will wiggle out of their egg case in about 3
weeks. As they grow bigger, move them into a larger container so
they have enough room to feed and move. Upon hatching, the mantids
must have live food every 2-3 days. If not, they will devour each
Living insects, such as fruit flies, aphids, cockroaches,
crickets, beetles, grasshoppers, spiders, caterpillars, moths, and
houseflies are a favourite food of the mantis. The smaller,
softer-bodied insects are a better food source for the young nymphs.
After having completed their early stages, they may be fed insects
larger than aphids and vinegar flies such as mosquitoes, flies, and
If they are not released, each adult will need its own cage. One
mantis may be kept on its own as a pet and fed throughout the year.
- Purchase egg cases on-line February-July
http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/2000/2154.html - Ohio
State University FactSheet
- Praying mantis life cycle
is an agronomist and freelance gardenwriter. When she's not
working on her garden, she runs Terra Viva Organics.
Grow Your Own Broom
by Pearl Sanborn Many years ago, I
purchased a beautiful natural colored wreath for my bathroom.
Because I've enjoyed it so much, recently I decided that I needed to
replace it with a new one. You see, after washing the old one so
many times, I think it has seen better days ;) The problem? I wasn't
able to find the same type of wreath anywhere!
After searching at several craft stores and doing some research
online, I finally had success with the mystery material! It was a
plant that Ben Franklin first brought to the United States after
discovering its beauty in the late 1700's called "Broom Corn." He
found a small seed on a whisk broom that his friend had brought him
from France, used for dusting his beaver hat. He planted it the next
spring, and continued growing it from the harvested seeds.
The humble broom......
In today's society, we have what seems like a never ending choice
of cleaning supplies made from every type of material imaginable.
There are even brooms that are supposed to be able to pick up dirt
magnetically! However, the pioneers before us did not have the
luxury of going down to the corner market to spend an hour or two
picking out their favorite broom! Actually, they had to plan their
cleaning day at least year in advance ;) Why so far ahead? Because
they had to grow their brooms!
They grew what was called "Broom Corn" or Sorghum Vulgare - also
known as Millet or Guinea Corn. The seeds are small, white, and
round in shape. They are grown much the same as grains such as
barley or oats. The stalk of the plant resembles a cane in
appearance, and the heads are quite large and full of small grain -
not actual ears of corn. Not only are these plants used for making
brooms, but they are also grown for other uses as well.
The grain is milled into a very fine white flour which is
wonderful for making bread, used to feed horses cattle and poultry,
and is also said to be a diuretic. The fiber of the plant is used to
make brushes, paper, newsprint, and fiberboard.
Although first thought to be cultivated in Italy, broom corn is
still widely cultivated in the United States today - so you can
plant & grow your own broom! And because broom corn is generally
resistant to insect pests and mold, it is quite easy to grow!
Plant seeds approx. 1/2" - 3/4" deep in moist soil. The rows
should be 3 ft. apart so the large seed heads have enough room to
fully develop, but not so far apart that the stalks have room to
bend over. You can expect seedlings to appear in 3-5 days. These
plants will grow up to 10 ft., and be mature approx. 105 days from
It is time to harvest when the seed heads are approx. 20-36
inches long. Flowering should be finished by this time, but the
heads should still be green in color. This will ensure that the
branches will not be to brittle for crafting. Remember to always cut
your stalks in dry sunny weather.
Because you are actually growing a type of grain, you will need
to thresh the seed (or remove seed) before you make the seed heads
into brooms, wreaths, or other items.
To remove seeds; take several stalks in one hand, and hit them
carefully against a large flat area. After you see that the seeds
are mostly gone, lay tops on a dry flat surface to dry for 2 weeks.
Don't forget to collect the seed after threshing! The birds will
enjoy it in their feeders!
A wonderful picture of some folks harvesting broom corn many
years ago: http://www.rootsweb.com/~okgarvin/broomcorn.html
An article on making your own broom: http://www.dnaco.net/~arundel/Brooms_Brushes.htm
Broom how-tos from 1936: http://www.geocities.com/txtarrant/colleyville/broms.html
Rich in warm autumn colors including brown, mahogany, and amber,
I know you'll find yourself, as I have, in love with this 7-10 ft
tall ornamental beauty. You'll want to be sure to reserve a special
place for broom corn in your cottage garden this year.
Copyright © of Pearl Sanborn
Live Way Better for Far Less
Cottage Gardening, Frugal Living
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Goodies Like Today's Article!
Growing Plants Vertically
from The Big Book of Gardening Skills by the
Editors of Garden Way Publishing If your garden feels cramped
and crowded, take advantage of vertical space. It is healthier for
vining plants to climb upward into the air and sunlight than to
sprawl on the damp earth.
Reasons to garden vertically:
- Fruit is cleaner and less susceptible to damage from rotting,
insects, and slugs.
- More air and sunlight reach the plants.
- Cultivating and harvesting are easier.
- Requires less space.
- Yields are generally higher.
- Creates a shady garden spot.
- Provides a framework for plant coverings.
- Allows more efficient watering.
- Makes monitoring and managing pests easier.
- Earliest, cleanest, and longest-lasting harvests
The simplest of all plant supports are stakes or poles. Drive
them into the soil near the base of a plant and the vines
instinctively latch onto them. Tie tall or heavy plants to the
stakes to support them. Then prune the excess growth at the top.
Garden centers offer a variety of wooden, bamboo, and
manufactured stakes, or you can make your own from scrap lumber,
pieces of metal or PVC pipe, or other rigid materials.
Tepees make excellent supports for beans, peas, and tomatoes, and
for heavily fruited crops such as melon and squash. To build one,
you will need three to six poles -- thin ones for flowers or
lightweight plants,stouter ones for heavily fruited crops. Cut the
poles 10 to 12 feet long so you can sink them 1 to 2 feet into the
ground. Use twine, raffia, or strips of rawhide or cloth to lash
poles together near the top. Pull the poles into a tight bundle,
wrap the twine around the bundle a few times, and tie it snugly.
Prop the bundles over the planting area, positioning the bottom ends
so each pole will support one or two vines. Thicker poles are heavy
enough to be freestanding.
Drive a post at each end of a row and place other posts in
between where needed. String with twine, wire, netting, or wire mesh
and you have a fence-type trellis. Fences over 20 feet long should
have an extra post installed every 10 to 12 feet. By attaching cross
arms to the end posts and running wires between them, you can
convert the simple fence trellis into a double fence or clothesline
trellis that can support two or four lines instead of just one.
Another simple and
efficient method of containing sprawlers is with a cage. Cages can
be nailed together from scrap 1 x 2 lumber or made with sturdy wire
mesh. Bend the mesh into shape and arrange it over transplants such
as tomatoes and cucumbers. Round or square cages, 2 to 3 feet in
diameter and 3 to 4 feet high, will both contain and support a
variety of vines.
Construct an A-frame trellis of lightweight lumber -- 1 x 2s or 2
x 4s. Wire mesh fencing, garden netting, or vertically or
horizontally strung wire or twine will serve as the plant support.
You can design an A-frame in any dimensions, but it must be of
manageable size if it is to be portable. Both sides of this
versatile trellis are used, and it can be made sturdy enough to
support heavy crops such as gourds and pumpkins.
from The Big Book of Gardening Skills by the Editors of Garden
Way Publishing illustrations by Ann Poole and Elayne Sears
Sesame Snow Peas
from cooksrecipes.com The vegetables
in this dish should be served crisp-tender.
- 1 tablespoon peanut oil
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted lightly
- 1/2 pound snow peas, trimmed and strings discarded
- 1 green onion, sliced thinly on diagonal
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Heat peanut oil in wok or large heavy skillet; add sesame
seeds and stir-fry for a few seconds until golden. Add snow peas
and green onion; stir-fry for 1 minute.
- Remove from heat and toss with sesame oil and soy sauce.
Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.
Organic Living ISSN 1492-5451.
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