Essential Traditions/Real Food Real Frugal

The archives for the old Essential Traditions blog and the old Real Food Real Frugal Blog

Ladybugs in Your Garden

Ladybugs in Your Garden

Finding ladybugs in your garden in a good thing!  Ladybugs are a group of beetles also known as Ladybird beetles or Lady beetles.  They are small oval insects ranging in colors from yellow, orange and red with black dots on their bodies.  There are even some that are entirely black.  They have black eyes, heads and antennae.  Like other insects, Ladybugs, have an exoskeleton which protects their body and is made up of three parts; the head, thorax and abdomen.  They are flying insects and their wings move very quickly, similar to hummingbirds, and can beat up to eighty-five times per second.  There are over five thousand different types of Ladybugs in the world; over five hundred in the U.S. alone.  Ladybugs can eat over five thousand aphids in it’s lifetime, which averages about one year, although, they can live up to three years.  Some Ladybugs release a bad smell which helps keep predators away.  Also, their bright colors help protect them because many other insects with this coloring are poisonous and predators avoid them.  Ladybugs have four life stages: egg, larva, pupa and adult.

The female Ladybug is larger than the males and can lay fifty to three hundred eggs at a time.  The eggs look like little orange or yellow ovals and take three to five days to hatch.

Ladybug larvae have six legs and are usually blue-black with orange spots. They look nothing like adult Ladybugs and are often mistaken as garden pests. The larvae take two to three weeks before the pupate into adult Ladybugs.

Ladybugs are beneficial insects to have in our gardens.  They help defend it from pests by eating crop damaging insects.  They eat aphids, fruit flies, thripes, mites, mealy bugs, scale, leaf hoppers and other plant-sucking insects.  They can eat up to seventy-five aphids per day.  Ladybugs are often used in organic gardening because they help the farmer avoid using pesticides.  They will continue to eat garden pests until they are gone, meanwhile laying their own eggs in the process.  The new larvae hatch and the cycle continues.

Besides eating garden pests, Ladybugs also eat pollen.  If you want to attract them to your garden then you need to look for certain types of flowering plants which they like to eat pollen from.  These include such plants as dill, cilantro, yarrow, wild carrot, angelica, cosmos, geraniums and dandelions.  Once you start seeing them in your garden, you will want to cease using insecticides so you don’t kill them or their larvae.  Also, that will leave the aphids and other garden pests for them to eat.  They will also need water, so be sure and water your garden on a daily basis, at least just a bit.

Ladybugs not only protect our gardens by eating pests, but they are beautiful insects and enjoyable to watch.  Many cultures view them as lucky and any gardener who finds them in their garden can confirm that they are!

Photo by Jeremy Vandel

**NOTICE about Get Real Frugal Friday: Because I’m co-hosting Wildcrafting Wednesdays each week, I’ve decided to stop Get Real Frugal Friday for the time being.  I can’t keep up with both and WW is a bigger, more established blog hop, so please join us on that blog hop here at Real Food Real Frugal!

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Creative Gardening: How Does Your Garden Grow?

Creative Gardening: How Does Your Garden Grow? - Real Food Real Frugal - http://realfoodrealfrugal.comWith food prices on the rise and even some shortages of food in some areas, more and more people are stocking up on staples, as well as doing some creative gardening.  Now is a good reminder that nearly everyone can grow at least some of their own food.  If there is a will, there is a way!  Hopefully these ideas will help you think outside the b0x and find a way to plant at least a few vegetables that will help you save money on groceries.

In just a few weeks, we will start seeing lettuce, cabbage, kale, lettuce, broccoli and brussels sprout plants at Wal-Mart and local nurseries.  I really love this time of the year and getting our gardens ready for spring. Every year, we add more and more garden space and someday hope to raise all of our vegetables that we need for the year. We really enjoy eating the veggies fresh, in season. What we can’t eat, we either can or freeze for the months when we can’t really grow much. This way we are assured that the food we’re eating is of the highest quality. We don’t have to worry about pesticides and GMOs.

Nearly everyone can grow a garden, even apartment dwellers can do container gardens. I have a friend who grow tomatoes and green beans on the balcony of her apartment. There are many ways that you can garden if you don’t have the room yourself. Do you have a friend with a large backyard? Grow a garden there and split the work and the harvest! Does your apartment building have a small plot of land big enough for a garden? Ask your building supervisor if you can use it to grow a garden or ask them if they can provide a plot of land on the property that you and your neighbors can grow a community garden.

Even if you have a small yard, you can do gardens in your flower beds. Plant lettuce around a shady tree, put tomato plants or pole beans in large terra cotta pots, fill window boxes with fresh herbs– there are so many ways you can work in vegetables into your landscaping. Place a lattice against a wall and plant climbing veggies underneath it. This doesn’t take up a lot of room and there are lots of veggies you can plant like that. Where there is  a will there is a way! With a little creativity, you can grow your own veggies where ever you live.

For us, growing what we can, saves us money and allows us to spend that money we save on veggies to purchase better foods for our family. We save between $30-$50 per week by growing our own veggies, and this allows us to buy the more expensive organic and grass fed products that are better for us. A little planning can help you save money, improve your family’s health and provide better food for your family.