While making my weekly "inspection" of the garden the other day, checking on my surprise butterfly bushes that have suddenly popped up like mushrooms, I was dismayed to discover masses of caterpillars munching on my Mugo pine (Pinus mugo). They were having a feast on the needles coming off of the new, developing candles. I also found holes chewed in the leaves of my kale nearby. Now, I'm not one to just flippantly start spraying bugs (readers of this blog are aware of my devotion to chemical-free, sustainable gardening) but attacks on my conifers will not be tolerated. [Sidebar] Over the past two years, I've developed an affinity for conifers...pines, false cypress, yews, arborvitaes, junipers, etc. They have a character unto themselves, reflected in the thousands of different cultivars of varying sizes, shapes, colors, and textures. For a great reference on conifers, check out Richard Bitner's "Conifers for Gardens." [End Sidebar]
So, I grabbed the EcoSmart Insect spray (non toxic, made entirely of natural plant-based oils) and let the little buggers have it. Time will tell if they back off and find something else to munch on (how about the weeds? Lots of those poking up out there!). They also get into my kale, so I sprayed there as well. I really hope to get a good harvest of winter vegetables this year, considering that peppers were the only success story from this summer. I'm getting the hint from nature that it's time to give some nutrients back to the soil, so I may be ordering a cover crop for the raised beds. I'd love to hear from someone who uses cover crops as I'm not overly familiar with them. Feel free to post a comment!