Surrendering my garden plot* meant that I had to dig out the flowering bulbs, blueberry and raspberry plants, and some herbs. They are now in containers on my porch and growing well. My blueberry plants have flowers on them. It takes five years or more for blueberry plants to grow to a stage where they produce abundantly.

Early March was still very cold during the day and freezing at night. Plants in the ground have natural insulation of the surrounding soil that containers do not provide. I used straw to insulate my containers. In order to keep it from scattering -- a very undesirable thing as I live around more pavement than grass and more parking lots than yards -- I placed it in plastic garbage bags. They molded snugly around the containers, which I grouped together in a protected corner of my porch for additional warmth retention.

I ran out of containers when I finished planting approximately 15 of the twenty or so bulbs. I took the leftovers indoors for protection. Wouldn't you know it, they were infested with ants, small brown ones. They subsequently took over my houseplants' soil. These ants do not create the sand-dunelike mounds we call anthills. They nest underground. Multiple times when I'd dig in one of my raised beds, hundreds of them would spill out, sometimes covering my foot and biting. Fortunately I had no reaction. Other times I turned over soil to find it filled with the white eggs. Thankfully, this region is too cold for dangerous fire ants and harvester ants.

I don't think they damaged the plants, and maybe they were even beneficial to the soil. However, I could not keep them inside. I joked with my sisters that I couldn't keep my ant farm going as a kid, but now I can't get rid of them.

One bit of information I have that may apply is that ants are drawn to the sticky substance known as "honeydew" created by aphids (see this link). So, if aphids are a problem it may draw ants. This did not apply to my houseplants. In my community garden plot, it may have been hard to eliminate aphids.

A book I recommend for general reference about garden and household insects is the Ortho Home Gardener Problem Solver. I grabbed it for a dollar at a book sale, but it is worth much more. This comprehensive reference provides multiple ways to identify and look up types of insects and animals that show up in the garden and home. Additionally, it describes the regions where the creatures are common, why they are present, and ways to deal with it.

* After being laid off last December, I don't know where I'll get a new job. So, I didn't know whether I'd be able to maintain my plot.

No comments: