Ladybugs!

I went to the Country Store today to ask a question about ladybug breeders. Jennifer, the owner’s daughter/longtime Country Store employee/handyman/one-woman extension service, rummaged around in the back and came up with a leftover tub of ladybugs from last year that had the supplier’s contact information on it. She told me I could take the tub with me.

A lot of the ladybugs had died, but much to our surprise, dozens of them were still alive and well and puttering around the tub. It’s hard to photograph ladybugs inside a sealed tub (and harder to photograph them if you open the tub, ‘cos they’ll all fly away), but you get the idea here:

Bugs' home

Ladybugs

More ladybugs

I also picked up a packet of Early Girl tomato seeds to use in my Gatorade-bottle terrarium project. I know it’s too early to start seeds, but I simply can’t wait any more … I am too eager to get a head start on summer! Besides, if they outgrow their containers, I can always transfer them to bigger containers … or transplant them a few weeks early, protected by a Wall-O-Water or something. That’s assuming, of course, that I can find Wall-O-Waters around here. All the stores sold out of them really fast last year.

Incidentally, if you are ever in town, the Country Store is one of the coolest things on Route 66 in Tulsa. Before we moved here, Ron and I used to stop by there every time we were in town and buy stuff. We bought a hand tool there that we use to trim weeds, and I can’t even begin to tell you how many kinds of seeds, flower bulbs, plants and other goodies I’ve bought there. The water hyacinth we put in the pond last year came from the Country Store. So did the beautiful little strawberry plant in a hanging planter, which I suspended from the pergola last summer.

They do free soil tests — which we are going to have done this spring before we plant anything in the garden — and if you ask them a question, they almost always know the answer … and if they don’t know, it’s a safe bet they know somebody who *does*.

The best time to go is in the spring, when they get the chicks and ducklings in. Eeeeeeeeeeeee! They are sooooooo cute and fuzzy. They just peep their little heads off. Ron doesn’t let me go there unsupervised in the spring. He is afraid I will come home with a duckling. But I don’t think Bill, the owner, would sell me one anyway. He knows we don’t really have a good place to raise it here.

Too bad. I want a duckling.

Emily

Inspiration

I just came up with a great idea. Or what I hope is a great idea.

Being a distance runner, I suck down enormous quantities of Gatorade.

Being picky, I don’t like the green kind, which you can buy in powdered form and mix up yourself to save a lot of money.

This means my recycling bin is constantly overflowing with clear plastic bottles in 32- and 64-ounce sizes.

As I emptied another bottle this afternoon, it occurred to me that all those bottles would make great terrariums. Not pretty, mind you — there’s something less than aesthetically appealing about a terrarium that has the words “Gatorade Thirst Quencher” stamped into the top of it — but still, the shape and size are good for growing plants, and I’ve got so many of them, I feel as if I ought to do something useful with them.

Meanwhile, I’se still a-thinkin’ …

In another month, it will be time to start tomato and pepper seedlings, assuming I don’t just a buy a couple of flats from The Tomato Man and call it good. If I put a handful of vermiculite and some compost in the bottoms of all my Gatorade bottles and started my seeds in there, I could give them a great boost. They’d be nice and warm, I wouldn’t have to remember to water them, and when I got ready to plant, I could just cut the bottom of the bottle out and slide the plants out. Then, if it got cold, I could use the bottles as makeshift cloches to protect the plants from frost.

Maybe I’ll start pulling Gatorade bottles out of the recycler and stashing them in the garage. Some 2x4s and small brackets would turn our south-facing windows into nice little nurseries for a few dozen Gatorade-bottle greenhouses to make my tomato plants grow.

Yeah. Gatorade-bottle gardening. I’m on it.

Emily