I’ve been hurriedly bringing all of my frost-sensitive houseplants indoors for the winter in a mad rush to beat the season. As always I am doing it at the last minute rather than drawing it out slowly. Many of you are in a similar boat so I thought I’d compile a checklist of things that I do in the process.
- Check all plants thoroughly for critters. Check underneath mulch, leaves, in the crevices between stems…
- Slugs, snails, sowbugs, and earwigs can cram themselves into the tiniest spots. Check all around containers, especially plastic pots and hanging baskets that have a crevice underneath the lip.
- To flush pests out of the soil: Add a few inches of water to a deep sink or bucket and mix in a few drops of natural dish soap (no chemicals or scents added). The unscented Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap works well for this. Set pots in the liquid for a couple of hours. I am often lazy and don’t bother doing this with all pots — just the ones that I know are problematic.
- To flush pests out of the soil: A few drops of neem oil can be added to the water as an alternative to soap.
- Scrub any outside dirt from the side of the pots while they have their turn in the soapy water.
- Lightly shower particularly dirty or pest-infested plants with a hose before bringing them inside.
- Scrub down empty pots with a scrub brush and lightly soapy warm water. Set aside to dry thoroughly before putting them away.
- Place a small piece of newspaper between stacked terracotta pots to keep them from sticking to one another.
- Prune off any dead or diseased leaves and stems and cut back hard any plants that will be going dormant through the winter months.
Perhaps it is the cold weather that brings them indoors in droves or a last push to procreate before the end times come, but the fruit flies are taking over my kitchen right now as they do every single fall. They are everywhere. They settle on anything that doesn’t move (edible or not) and alight like a cloud of horrible little monsters when the cupboards are opened or a light wind disturbs them.
I invoke the spirit of my grandmother and shake my fist at no one. “I cast yee out foul things! Satan, I rebuke you!”
Not surprisingly, it doesn’t work. What does work is a homemade system invented by Davin that we call “The Carrousel”. Its name is inspired by the classic Sci-Fi film from 1976, Logan’s Run. In the film, citizens of a Utopian/dystopian future who are over a certain age are entered into a death machine called the Carrousel under the guise of reincarnation/rebirth or “renewal.”
In our version of The Carrousel, fruit flies are lured into a jar of no return via a funnel system that leads to an intoxicating lake of old red wine. To make your own simply:
I’m glad I didn’t register the name of this hollyhock (Alcea rosea) variety, ‘Peaches ‘n Dreams,’ before I bought and planted it because… The Cheese. God knows I will buy and grow a plant specifically for The Cheese, but there is some cheese that is just too much Lifetime, made-for-TV-movie, Sunday afternoon drama for even me. It was probably the “‘n” that took it over the top. No, I retract. It was the wistful use of “dreams.”
The first pieces of flair I added to the garden early last year was a collection of bird and bee houses that I affixed to the left front side of our ramshackle shed. Recently, high winds have been knocking them off and when putting them back up I happened to notice a few stray baby yellow garden spiders (Argiope aurantia) and a big egg case affixed to the back of one of the houses.
Since then I’ve been watching eagerly to see if there was any movement. And look what I discovered today…
I have so much to tell you about the Ecuadorian food store in my neighbourhood that it was difficult working out where to begin. I’ve travelled in Southern Mexico and I’ve perused many Latin American food stores, yet this store was a treasure trove of exciting food stuffs I had never seen before, primarily from Peru, Ecuador and Columbia. The packaging was delightful, too. But that’s a post in itself.
First up is huacatay, a dark sauce in a jar that had me perplexed. The label identified the main ingredient as “black mint”, but the illustration on the front looked nothing like the black peppermint I am familiar with. If I had to take a guess, I’d say it was a marigold, but even though I eat marigolds (particularly the gem series), I do so in small quantities and could not imagine devoting it to a sauce. Because that seemed illogical, I chalked the illustration up to the sort of packaging that just has any old plant stuck into the design.