Scientifically known as Tetranychus urticae, red spider mites are a kind of arachnid that feed on plants, particularly the leaves.
They are truly menacing plant pests.
These mites are so tiny (about .75 to 1mm in size) that you won’t even catch them visually without the aid of a magnifying lens.
The red color of these mites actually doesn’t stay that way for a long time. Adult mites change their color becoming almost transparent white with two dark spots (black or red). This makes them even more difficult to locate.
Because they are tricky to spot, if a gardener or any plant caretaker fails to see them, the plant will suffer severe infestation and it might be too late to save them.
Initially, the infestation might just go unnoticed.
The very first sign of your plant harboring red spider mites are the tiny white marks on their leaves that you’ll see. After a while, if left untreated, the white patches will turn to yellow creating a drying appearance on the leaves.
Moving on, these yellow discolorations will eventually turn to brown indicating the leaf’s chlorophyll is consumed. It will then start to die.
Source: Google Trends
Red spider mites procreate very fast. The numbers of eggs they produce depends on the weather. The hotter the temperature, the faster and the more baby mites an adult red spider female can produce.
Reports suggest that as many as 13 million babies can be bred in a month. Red spider mites are on high-speed breeding from spring up to autumn when plants begin to stop growing and leaves even fall off the ground. This is also the time that the color of the red spider mites starts to turn red.
Winter will see these pests stop and hibernate as all the plants and trees sleep in dormancy. When they wake up in the spring, their colors change into bright red. And then, eventually, change color again.
Red spider mites’ appetite and metabolism slows down during cold seasons. They also tend to stop producing eggs until they fall into deep sleep as winter comes. These mites can sleep for the whole winter period without eating or procreating.
Needless to say though, that, in tropical countries where there are no winter seasons, the red spider mites don’t stop moving. They continue to feed and produce eggs non-stop.
These pests thrive underneath leaf follicles. And since the mites are so tiny, they can’t be seen just relying on your naked eye. A magnifying glass is required to locate red spider mites.
There is one solution to that if you don’t have this lens…
Check the leaves of your plant. See if there are tiny white spots or yellow marks on them. Also, inspect if there are spider webs enclosing a leaf. These are indications that red spider mites have already chosen to live and feed on your plant.
Do not wait any longer for the plant to die and the leaves to all dry up and fall. Plan your strategy to put a stop to this before it’s too late…
It is always best to make strategic preventions when you start putting up a garden or indoor plants. Never look for infestations to show up before you take actions. Below are ways to prevent red spider mites in getting into your plants.
And, to be 100% sure that all red spider pests get eliminated, introduce predatory mites to them. The phytoseiutus persimillis mites, these mites have red spider mites at the very top of their menu. They are carnivores and can eat a huge number of adult mites and their eggs rapidly in a day. Nothing to worry about though because these predator mites don’t feed on plants.
If you have any problems with red spider mites, don’t hesitate to get in touch.
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Now get to work and get rid of those spider mites!
If you live anywhere in the Americas, there’s a good chance you’ll encounter hummingbirds in your garden.
With 300 species found from Alaska to Chile, 12 of these species will spend summer in America before heading to tropical climes during colder periods.
We will look today at how to limit the chances of coming out one day to find a dead hummingbird rather than hearing the delightful sound of their rapidly flapping wings.
These tiny, brightly colored birds with their iridescent feathers are among the smallest of birds. They measure anywhere from 3 to 5 inches.
Hummingbirds are from the family Trochilidae and, for birds with such rapid metabolisms, they have surprisingly long lifespans. Some live for up to a decade while the average is somewhere between 3 and 5 years. From hatching to fledging, hummingbirds are pretty vulnerable. Many die in this critical period.
They normally rely on nectar, the sweet liquid found inside certain flowers. Nectar is a combination of fructose, sucrose and glucose. As such, it’s a poor source of nutrients. Hummingbirds will top this up by preying on insects or spiders.
How can you give them a helping hand?
Because of their fast breathing rate, rapid heartbeat and elevated body temperature, hummingbirds need to eat often.
Many gardeners also choose to provide these majestic little birds with a feeder so they can further supplement what they can forage in the wild.
Hummingbird feeders are very inexpensive. All you need is one of these feeders, some refined white refined cane sugar and some water and you’re good to go.
Most feeders are red since this color seems to draw hummingbirds in more than others.
When you are looking for the best feeder, think about how easy it is to clean and fill. Look for a model that will come apart so you can regularly clean all the components.
Some feeders come with a handy little perch. This is not necessary and hummingbirds will happily feed without needing to rely on any assistance. The advantage of perches, though, is that you get to enjoy watching these incredible little birds just sitting there gorging on nectar.
Hummingbirds get their energy from nectar while the bugs they eat deliver a shot of protein.
Flower nectar is nothing more than sucrose in the range of 21% – 23%. Making sure the hummingbirds in your garden are well fed is extremely cheap. It’s also pretty easy…
It’s in your interests to make up batches of nectar so that you are not continually performing this task every time you want to fill your feeder. Store in plastic bottles in the refrigerator.
Do not be tempted to replace cane sugar with any alternatives.
Do not feed hummingbirds any of the following:
The last thing you want is to try doing a good turn only to end up with a dead hummingbird. Stick to the tried and true combo of water and sugar and you’ll be perfectly safe while giving the hummingbird exactly what it needs. They expend massive amounts of energy and need plenty of real sugar to compensate.
Sugar water might be cheap but it’s also a highly fertile growing medium. Yeasts like to eat sugar. This causes fermentation which can be harmful to hummingbirds.
Various bacteria and mold also tend to proliferate in sugar water. Again, this could lead to a dead hummingbird rather than hours of mutual pleasure.
For these reasons, keeping the feeder sparkling clean is essential.
It’s equally important to ensure that the nectar is always fresh. If you live somewhere with cooler temperatures, changing the nectar weekly is fine.
At 70 degrees or above, use these temperatures as guidelines for how often you need to swap out the feed…
Keep a close eye on the nectar. If you spot any black spots or white strings, make sure to clean the feeder more frequently.
Each time you refill the feeder with nectar, wash it thoroughly with very hot water. This is where your life will be much easier if you buy a feeder that can be completely disassembled. Cleaning the parts is far simpler when they are broken down.
Ideally, choose a shaded location for the feeders. This will ensure the nectar lasts longer than if exposed to the sun. If you must place the feeder in direct sunlight, simply change it more often.
It obviously pays to situate the feeder near to a window so you can enjoy the view of the feeding hummingbirds. Keep it well out of the way of cats.
In no time at all, the birds will become tame enough to go about their business with you watching them from tight up against the window.
If you have any bees or ants menacing the feeder, hummingbirds will not use it.
In the event of coming across a dead hummingbird, check out first if it has a band. If it does, contact the Bird Banding Laboratory.
Being careful not to ruffle the feathers, wrap up the dead hummingbird in a paper towel.
Pop it inside a Ziploc bag then double-bag it with another.
Label it with the location, time and date it was discovered.
Here is a list of rehabilitators across North America.
Failing that, try contacting the biology department of a local college or university.
Your remaining options are either to bury it or give it to your local animal control agency.
We hope you’ve found this glance at how to limit the chance of finding a dead hummingbird when you planned to relax in your garden with a coffee and watch these magnificent birds happily feed.
It needn’t cost much to do your part and give these survivors a little helping hand with some nectar. Pay attention to the advice above and you should be rewarded with a nice throng of feeding birds.
Feel free to share this article and drop us a line if you have any queries about gardening. We respond as quickly as we are able and always welcome feedback.
Now get some nectar prepared!
Tomatoes are extremely simple to grow. There is very little that you can do wrong with this
The first thing that springs to mind when you think of preserving fruit and veg is a pressure canner or pressure cooker. What if you don’t want that expense, though?
You’re in luck!
We will look today at how to can tomatoes without a pressure cooker. Using nothing but basic kitchen equipment, you can enjoy the wonderful taste of tomatoes year-round.
First thing’s first, though…
With water bath canning only really safe for fruits, many people choose to use a pressure canner so they can safely preserve their meat or vegetables without fear of bacteria.
This handy diagram shows you precisely how this innovative technology works…
Source: Pick Your Own
As you can see, a pressure canner is rather like an oversized steel or aluminum kettle. The lid twists on and off with gaskets.
The racks inside are easy to remove and there are safety vents and steam vents.
Sometimes, a dial gauge is used to show the pressure. Other models have a weighted gauge which will also cause the pressure canner to rattle.
Simply add water according to the directions and you can make sure all your cans are adequately pressurized fuss-free.
Since using a pressure canner is unnecessary when preserving tomatoes, it makes sense not to bother using one.
We will walk you through a simple alternative using a water bath and some Mason jars.
Source: Freshly Preserved
Luckily, all you need is some very basic equipment.
OK, once you’ve assembled these basics, it’s time to get started!
Before anything else, you’ll need to pick some tomatoes. You can use any fruit that’s past its best but steer clear of any rotten tomatoes. If there are any imperfections or cracks, just trim them away.
Next, follow these simple steps to enjoy a bountiful supply of organic tomatoes throughout the year.
And that’s it!
Fill up those jars to your heart’s content and never need to rely on processed tomatoes again when you can stock up plentifully on the fruits of your own labor.
Very rarely, the seal might not take causing the tomatoes to rot. Obviously, if this happens simply throw the rogue jar in the trash.
Fortunately, there’s an initial test you can perform to minimize the chance of this happening. Leave your canned tomatoes out on the counter overnight. The next day, if you remove the ring from the jar and try to remove the lid, it won’t be possible if the vacuum seal has taken effect properly. This is not a failsafe method but it certainly reduces the likelihood of spoiled produce.
How about all the tomato skins and cores that you accumulated?
They’ll make perfect compost! Enjoy fertilizing your garden the natural way!
We hope you’ve found this look at how to can tomatoes without a pressure cooker useful when it comes to making the very most of your supply of this delicious fruit.
Once you experience the taste of food grown organically in your own backyard, it’s tough to return to store-bought produce! Not only can you control exactly how your fruit and veg is grown but you can save a great deal of money as well.
Please feel free to share this article on your social media. As always, drop us a line if you would like any help with any aspect of gardening. We try to respond as swiftly as possible and we’re always more than happy to help.
Chefs prize chanterelle mushrooms just as they value truffle, that other famous fungus.
The chanterelle is mycorrhizal. This means it has a mutually beneficial relationship with the roots of certain trees.
Before we look at growing chanterelle mushrooms, a quick look at the bare essentials of these unusual fungi.
Source: Beth Dunham
Source: Wild Harvest
In broad-leaved and coniferous woods, you’ll often spot chanterelle mushrooms in the undergrowth.
These mushrooms relish damp places like hollows and ditches.
Chanterelle is actually a pretty common mushroom but it’s tough to spot. It hides under moss and leaf litter which help to conceal its brilliant yellow color.
The mushroom grows throughout the temperate zone. It often crops up after summer storms.
When it comes to commercial picking, intensive carpet picking has been clamped down upon and regulated in some countries. France and the USA have imposed strict limitations on just how many chanterelles you can pick.
The mycelium on the chanterelle must be allowed to fruit in subsequent years so no implements should be used when picking that tear the moss and damage the mycelium.
If you have wondered about growing chanterelles, it’s really not straightforward.
The nature of the symbiotic relationship they have with certain trees mean you are limited. Those trees need to be where you want to grow or you’ll be clean out of luck.
Let’s assume that you are lucky enough to have some substantial beech, birch or spruce trees in your garden…
Careful harvesting will lead to these mushrooms appearing year after year in the same spot. If you are successful in growing chanterelles then you should be blessed with an ongoing supply as long as you take good care of them.
It really isn’t straightforward growing chanterelles so if you are lucky enough for the conditions to fall in your favor, why not give it a go and see if you can bag some of these delicious mushrooms for your kitchen!
We have eaten the chanterelle since the times of the Romans.
Slugs and larvae tend the leave the chanterelle in peace so the flesh remains intact more so than with other mushrooms.
Its consistency is firm and compact. This needs to be compensated for with slightly longer cooking times.
Chanterelle can be cooked alone. It’s great sprinkled with some parsley, too.
These mushrooms make the perfect accompaniment to eggs in omelets and the color coordinates as well! They also go well with meat and can be pickled.
Chanterelles travel well so they are widely sold at market.
This site has some excellent recipes with chanterelles.
If you have the right conditions in your garden and fancy growing some chanterelles, why not give it a go?
Please feel free to share this article on your social media. Get in touch at any time if you have any questions on any aspect of gardening. We are always delighted to help.
Anyone who loves gardening knows the importance of a good fertilizer.
If you have a healthy vegetable garden, one of the best choices is chicken manure.
This type of fertilizer is usually sold commercially as dried pellets. It’s one of the best non-chemical options for those of you who like to keep things natural.
You should be aware that you might need to add some other fertilizer if you opt for poultry manure in the dry form, whether pellets or powder.
By definition, most gardeners have a keen interest in the environment. By choosing a fertilizer that’s free of chemicals, you can offer your garden the best nutrients while remaining completely eco-friendly.
If you are looking for green plants with plenty of leaves, nitrogen is the key nutrient required. Chicken manure is a wonderful source of this colorless gas. You’ll also enjoy a dose of other vital nutrients into the bargain. Organic matter will be added to the soil which will enhance the retention of water and nutrients.
It should be noted that poultry manure contains rather less potassium and phosphorous than you’ll get with some synthetic fertilizers. The nutrient content is also slower release.
If you’re looking to carry out some simple top-dressing, you can safely select an average dose of chicken manure. Use 150g per square meter.
Always err on the side of caution and use less rather than more. You can always increase the dose but you can’t undo the damage caused by being heavy-handed.
Circumstances always differ. Perhaps your crops are not quite so hungry. Maybe your lawn is prone to scorching. 100g per square meter will suffice in either of these situations.
Some vegetables, on the other hand, are much greedier. Ramp the dosage up to 200g per square meter but split this in half with a month between applications.
Make sure you are not drawn into using the manure from domestic chickens. This is fine for compost but not so great for fertilizer. It looks extremely unsightly and draws in vermin. As a final insult, this may burn the roots of your plants so sidestep it completely as a fertilizer.
Due to problems with transportation and the issues above, home gardeners rarely use fresh chicken manure. As well as composting, it can also be used for blackcurrants and plum trees if you are able to source some.
If you do roll with the fresh variety bear in mind that the manure can contain damaging bacteria. Take proper precautions…
The dried or processed type such as that offered by Lowes presents far less of a risk. This manure is sterilized so it’s much safer.
The pellets of this type of chicken manure can be confidently used on most vegetables and fruits. Some sulfate of potash makes a nice supplement.
It’s best not to use chicken manure for any acid-loving plants.
Composting your chicken manure is straightforward and a great way to enhance the release of nutrients over time. They will break down better and become more easily put to use by your plants.
Take the used bedding from the chicken coop and pop it in your compost bin. Douse it with water then turn it every few weeks to allow the air to properly circulate.
You’ll need plenty of patience. It’ll take anywhere from 6-9 months for the manure to be properly ready. Waiting for as long a year is not uncommon.
Once you’re done waiting, simply spread your fresh manure compost over your garden. Use a shovel to work it over thoroughly.
If you are growing vegetables, this type of fertilizer can help them to grow bigger and also much more quickly. It’s a natural way to give things a boost.
If you want to give chemical fertilizers a swerve and get superb results without hurting our fragile planet, chicken manure is a worthwhile alternative.
If you have any questions about this or any aspect of gardening, drop us a line and we’ll get right back to you.
Rabbits, as everyone knows, can run extremely quickly. Their turn of pace is actually on a par with foxes. A rabbit can reach speeds of anywhere between 18mph and 45mph.
How high can rabbits jump, though?
This is a common question which we will address today. We’ll also look at some other interesting facts about this resilient animal.
Rabbits leap using their hind legs. These are specially designed to make them jump higher and farther whenever they feel the need.
The opinions of experts vary in terms of how far rabbits can jump…
Some say that a rabbit can reach up to 2 feet (60.96 cm) high when leaping vertically. Others claim that rabbits can jump as high as 4 feet (121.92cm).
When they jump horizontally, they can hit an incredible 15 feet (457.2 cm).
This discrepancy depends to some extent on the type of a rabbit in question.
Domesticated or pet bunnies generally cannot make a leap of even 2 feet. The simple reason for this is that they are being extremely well fed. This tends to make them fat and heavy. In the wild, they would be leaner and better primed for action.
Also, most pet rabbits are either caged or do not have much space to roam about and practice their skills. Compared to wild rabbits whose lives are seemingly one endless chase, there is not much need for pet rabbits to actually run and jump. This means they are rather less able than wild rabbits. In the great outdoors, the life of a rabbit is frequently threatened. They must be on top of their game in order to survive.
If you need to build up a barrier or walls to keep rabbits from entering your gardens and feasting on your vegetables, a mere 3 feet tall fence should be more than adequate.
Since the majority of rabbits, both domesticated and wild, peak at jumping to heights of about 2 feet, the extra foot should be sufficient margin for safety.
If you opt for walls, they should be buried at least 6 feet into the ground. Make certain that they are 3 to 6 feet away from any plants. Rabbits often dig into the ground if the walls are too high for them to reach.
Rabbits are mainly prey. They bank on their speed in running and their prowess at jumping to elude predators in the wild.
But, despite their skill, some of them are still liable to meet misfortune in the mighty paws of their enemies.
These animals also serve as either food or pets for humans.
To catch a rabbit, you need to create a sound strategy first. Their raw swiftness means it’s tough to trap one without proper preparation.
It is also imperative that you have at least an idea as to how long and high these bunnies can reach when jumping. This will help you to estimate the kind of actions you will need to perform.
This great pictorial article gives you some handy hints for capturing a rabbit.
In capturing a strayed pet rabbit, one may need help. It can be fairly difficult to catch them alone due to that speed.
You can use a large net to entrap the animal. Skilled, strong hands along with the keen eyesight of your helper is just about all that’s required.
Rabbits are generally smart and hiding is their prime instinct. They are very hard to spot it as they disappear from sight rapidly.
Wild rabbits are regularly the cause of worry in countryside backyards. They are considered pests just like rats are.
Moreover, wild bunnies usually carry diseases that can also infect humans. The most devastating disease for rabbits is myxomatosis.
Rabbits eat grass, plants and vegetables. So, in the event that they get a chance to loiter around residential areas, the first thing that they attack is the garden full of vegetables!
As with other wild animals, rabbits scare people although they rarely cause us any harm. It’s the plants that they ravage! They are prone to biting at times so be extremely careful when handling wild rabbits.
If by any chance you are attacked, hurriedly wash the bitten part with running water and soap then go see a doctor to give you proper medication.
The easiest way to get a wild rabbit is to take it out with a gunshot. If your only reason for attack is to drive it out of your garden then you can use a net to trap it.
Make sure to hold the bunny on its back and not by the ears. This way, you are protected and it will not inflict any harm. Carry it like you would a baby at its butt. Then gently encase it in a carrier so it cannot escape before you take it back to the wild again.
Another easy way is to set up a rabbit trap. This is actually a cage wherein you can put some food like carrots or bread. This will lure the animal to approach the trap and your job is done with no fuss at all.
Never underestimate any animal’s capability to outsmart humans. Always be highly vigilant in situations where you need to catch any animal at all. You don’t want to get hurt through being careless.
We also need to respect the fact that however wild or dangerous they might appear, the only reason why they come to residential areas is to look for some food.
Try to understand that animals also get scared when they see humans. Their very first instinct is to run away for fear of being harmed or killed. If they feel any sense of danger, it is only natural for them to attack. It’s a defense mechanism.
Unless, though, they exhibit any harmful behavior, you should not attempt to hurt or kill them. Rabbits are 90 percent harmless and just want to extend their horizons. A touch of caution should, of course, always be exercised.
How high can rabbits jump is not something conclusively proven. Let us know how high your rabbit can jump and see if there is any evidence to support the higher claims of 4 feet!
The possum is an extremely strange animal.
Looking rather like an oversized rat, there is certainly something unsettling about this malevolent looking creature.
Are possums dangerous, though?
This is one of the first questions posed by many people when they are faced by the fierce teeth of this unusual marsupial.
We will look today at this issue along with some other facts about this bizarre animal.
If you are ever confronted by a possum, fifty teeth bared as above, it is only natural that you might feel threatened.
Usually, possums have easy-going and laid-back temperaments. The exposed snarling grimace is simply a smart defense against would-be attackers. If you approached the animal, it would be highly unlikely to do more than back off and cower away.
You must face facts, though: if a possum is cornered by a human or another animal, there is an outside chance it might defend itself by lashing out. When we are talking about a wild creature the size of a cat with claws and teeth – all fifty of them! – like razors, it pays to err on the side of caution.
If you have any pets at home, make certain to keep them well clear of any possums on your land.
The next time someone asks you, “Are possums dangerous?” you will be able to answer confidently that, normally, they are not.
How else, then, do possums protect themselves?
Source: Deviant Art
The expression playing possum is often used when a child is playing and feigns being dead. The phrase has been around for generations but people tend to think it’s nothing more than an alliterative myth.
When a possum is in any kind of trouble, its first course of action is to bare that vicious set of teeth growling at the aggressor. It compounds this fearsome effect by belching and will also urinate or defecate in an attempt to confuse and disgust the predator.
If all else fails, something is triggered in the possum’s brain and it suffers from a temporary paralysis. This is more like the animal fainting than a natural response and it works very well.
The animal on the attack will see the possum roll and fall over. They tend to close their eyes or stare vacantly into space. This alone would be an inadequate defense mechanism. The attacker would perhaps approach and try to eat the possum.
Saliva foams up around their exposed teeth. Their glands secrete a rancid odor.
The overall effect of the animal “playing possum” is to allow the opponent to believe they have triumphed and the possum has somehow died.
This state of catatonia can last for several hours. The sight and smell of the seemingly-dead beast is more than enough to put any marauding predator off the thought of trying to eat it!
The word opossum was first coined in the early 1600s by Captain John Smith. This Jamestown colonist borrowed the word from the native Algonquian language in which opassum meant white animal.
Just a few years later, in 1613, the name appeared in print for the first time. The “o” had been dropped and the world was introduced to the possum! They
So… the animal which was first known as an opossum is widely referred to as a possum.
A possum is actually a different animal, one of several species of nocturnal, tree-dwelling marsupials found in New Guinea and Australia. The story goes that Captain Cook named them after their North American cousin the opossum.
Today, the Australian possum holds claim to the true scientific title of possum.
The animal from North America is strictly speaking an opossum.
That said, old habits die hard. Most people refer to the American marsupial as a possum so the name has stuck. The words are technically different but in real terms they are used practically interchangeably.
Opossum are omnivores. They quite happilys eat both meat and plants.
They eat a surprisingly varied diet including:
If none of the above are available, opossum will readily eat human scraps, dog or cat food along with any other scraps they can find. These animals are highly versatile and will never starve!
They are scavengers by nature but opossum will also hunt if forced into it. They are quite capable of bringing down birds, snakes and other small animals.
Possums also have an elevated need for calcium. This leads them to gnaw on the bones of road kill to take more on board.
Alongside a desire to know if possums are dangerous, another frequently asked question concerns the number of babies they have…
Marsupials, female possum have pouches and give birth to large litters of babies. The moment they are born, these babies climb directly back into the mother’s pouch. It’s from here that they grow and develop.
Litters can contain up to 20 babies but normally only half of these survive. Nature if often a numbers game. The possum protects itself by having more than enough offspring to guarantee that enough will live on and escape the rigors of entering the world outside the mother’s pouch.
The possum has a remarkable immune system. This is rugged enough to protect them against the venomous bites of snakes like the rattlesnake, cottonmouth and viper.
They are practically immune from contracting rabies. You are far more likely to see a rabid dog than a possum!
Not all animals are created equal when it comes to intelligence.
Possums possess incredible memories. They can easily remember where they found food. This helps them to stay on top of their food supply. Adult possums move around alone seeking out whatever food comes their way.
In controlled tests, opossums navigate mazes far more confidently than cats or rats.
Opossum have exceptional climbing abilities.
This is helped along by their “thumbs” which are opposable like a human’s. These are called hallux and are situated on the rear feet.
Possums are the only animals except for primates that boast opposable thumbs.
Rather than worrying whether or not the possum is dangerous, you should actually welcome them into your garden.
They munch on the beetles, slugs and snails that can ravage your grass.
Possums compete for food sources with rats and cockroaches. They will kill both of these vermin if they venture into their territory. In this way, it could be said that possums are dangerous to some!
Aside from protecting your pets from any harm, you should be glad if you have possums on your property.
In response to the age-old query, “Are possums dangerous”, the answer is a qualified, “No.”
These fascinating animals have a lot more going for them than they are given credit for. Just be careful not to approach and corner one and you will have no problems.
Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions about the opossum or any other aspect of gardening. We will get back to you as soon as possible.