Sunday, April 29, 2007

Cicada: First Sighting

They're back!

Although the 17-year periodic cicadas are not suppose to emerge in mass in northern Illinois until late May 2007 when the soil temperature reaches approximately 65 degrees this little guy had other ideas--hopefully he finds a mate.

According to entomologists Monte Lloyd and Henry Dybas of the Field Museum in Chicago, northern Illinois is about to experience the largest invasion of cicadas anywhere in the world

These love-bugs only exist to find a mate, lay their eggs and burrough underground for almost a generation. You'll recognize them by their translucent brown and black top with lighter reddish brown patterns at the wing bases. Their most outstanding feature is their compound eyes--red with orange major veins.

With as many as 12 million cicadas per acre counted in highly wooded areas and about 133,000 per acre in suburban yards, cicadas can be annoying. However they won't hurt you or your garden. So enjoy these mini miracles of nature because after this bug blast they won't be back for another 17 years.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Day 3...Mission Accomplished

My cool weather garden is up and running.
  1. Radishes
  2. Carrots, Lake Valley Organics, Danvers Half-long
  3. Spinach
  4. Arugula
  5. Lettuce mix
  6. Peas, Oregon sugar pod
Grow, grow, grow...

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Day two...halfway home

My deadline:
Have my garden up and running for cool weather produce by tomorrow.

The plan:

Construct two 6' x 8' x 11" raised gardens and fill with an organic soil mix. Buy the best organic soil mix available and have it delivered.

On Schedule:

Raised garden materials in yard.
Organic soil delivered.

I bought the cedar for the raised garden at a local hardware store where I also was able to find someone who could help me construct it by tomorrow. I brought the cedar home in my car so I could have it today.

For the soil mix, I contacted located in nearby Lake Bluff. I talked to Mike Lake and told him what I was doing. He recommended eight yards of an organic soil mix made up of one third top soil, one third compost, and one third sand. He was very helpful and even though their delivery schedule was full he managed to meet my personal deadline.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Day One...tick, tick, tick

The botanical clock is ticking. The potato seeds need 105 days to mature. The sugar pod peas take 68 days of "cool" weather before harvest. The lettuce will bolt in the summer sun if I can't plant it now. I'm on deadline...but I forgot to plan ahead. Somehow my glorious garden from 2006 has turned into a mass of clay, stones and weeds.

I am learning the garden has a rhythm of its own. In my real life working in broadcast and newspapers, I'm used to meeting deadlines in minutes. This garden thing takes time and patience...not my strong suits.

I surf the web lusting after pictures of bountiful gardens dressed in the perfect little black soil mix and surrounded by handsome red cedar sides. I want what they've got...and I want it now.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Come Back Kids

True survivors...the poor daffodils that were barely hanging on only a few days ago have returned in all their spring glory. Need I say it's spring in Chicago.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

April in Chicago

There's April in Paris and then there's April in Chicago. Ahh...Spring...the Cubs game is canceled...the power is out...the commutes are tripled...the snow plows are back...the lawn mowers are silenced...and the snow continues to fall. Whatever is a Garden Goddess to do?

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Where is Spring?

The calendar says April 10. The thermometer says 27 degrees. The bright green grass is struggling under an icy white frosting. The daffodil heads are drooping or worse, the magnolia blossoms have turned black and the ground is too hard to even turn. The weather prognosticators are calling for measurable snow later this week. All this while the seventeen-year cicadas are laying in wait. Ahh...the summer of 2007 looks like it will be providing some interesting challenges.