Gardening Tips

These gardening tips originally appeared in the Patio Planters Punch Newsletter.  

Giant Swallowtail Caterpillars and Butterflies

by Celia Collins

This is for those of you who have citrus trees. I have two, a small orange tree which I bought about 10 years ago and a 12-foot lemon tree which I started as a seed 24 years ago.

White flies have been the main pest in the trees over the years. This year something different has appeared. Last week I noticed telltale droppings around both trees indicating I had GIANT caterpillars in both of them. The first thing I thought of was the Buck Moth Caterpillar invasion a few months ago, but then I remembered all the beautiful butterflies I have seen passing through our courtyard this Spring. After scrutinizing my trees, I found out that there were “very large caterpillars who look like they are covered with tawny brown and white snakeskin.” They are beautiful. It took me about half an hour on the computer to identify them. They are the caterpillars who become the Giant Swallowtail Butterflies - huge, beautiful, black butterflies with yellow spots. I immediately sent an email to Dan Gill of the Times- Picayune to ask him if it was ok to leave the caterpillars alone. He told me if a tree is old enough with enough leaves, it should be fine. If the caterpillars don’t eat more than half the leaves, the harvest also would not be disturbed.

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Gardening Tip with Flavor: Radishes

by Leslie Perrin

October is a great time to plant radishes in your garden or pot, and there are no vegetables easier to grow.

The small radishes we enjoy so much are known as Raphanus sativus. They are a joy for gardeners anxious to have fresh vegetables for a fall salad, since they are ready to harvest in only 21 to 30 days from the time seed is sown.

A sunny location and a well-prepared bed with good drainage are the simple but important requirements for growing radishes. To enrich the soil, add well-rotted compost or manure and work a general-purpose fertilizer into the soil before planting the seeds.

Sow seeds at least one-half inch apart at a depth of one-quarter inch. Try not to sow the seeds too thickly. Short-season radishes need to be about 2 inches apart. Cover the seeds lightly with fine soil. Firm the soil in place gently. Then water with a gentle spray.

Radishes sprout in a matter of days, but they need a constant supply of water to do so. Check the soil daily during this period to see if it is adequately moist.  Plump, juicy radishes are those that grow quickly and continuously. A steady supply of water -at least an inch a week - will ensure rapid, steady growth. Continued →  

Garden Tip for Color during the Cool Season

by Leslie Perrin

Cooler temperatures and lower humidity make gardening more pleasant. When the plants begin to look tired and past their prime, pull them out and replace them with fresh plants. You can keep your container current with seasonal themes by growing a succession of plants, such as bulbs and primroses in the spring, annuals and vegetables in the summer, and colorful kale and pansies in autumn Continued →  

Carnivorous Plants

by Carmen Carter

There are more than 600 species and subspecies of carnivorous plants. Some of the largest species can devour victims as large as a frog, even larger if the creature is sickly and does not have the strength to fight off the perpetrator plant. Carnivorous plants do their evil deed by capture, kill, digest and absorbing their victim’s nutrients. (Kind of like on line dating!) Continued →  

Profusion Zinnias Add Spice

by Leslie Perrin

One of the newest groups of zinnias is the Profusion series. They have become popular in the last five years for their vibrant show-stopping colors.  Continued →  

Time to cultivate herbs

by Leslie Perrin

The summer heat is approaching quickly so start cultivating your herbs. Direct sun for more than two hours in the summer is too harsh on most herbs. Continued →  

Get your herbs planted now!

by Leslie Perrin

We all need our fresh herbs year-round. So don’t fret if you lost your containers during Ms. K, get your herbs planted now and use at once for your best herbal recipe delight! Choose plants of varying heights to make the container more interesting. Continued →