For the first summer in a decade, rather than blogging throughout the growing season, I’ve been consistently updating the YouTube channel of mynjgarden.com with garden tours, featured plant videos and garden happenings. The audience has grown over the past few months to 468 subscribers as of today and it’s exciting to engage with gardeners in the comments of the channel. I’ve even met a few new local gardeners through the channel and I like that I’m expanding my network of likeminded growers in the area.
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This week I did add a new raspberry variety to the yard, it’s a yellow one. Anna Prince, that was recommended by fellow local youtube gardener, James Prigioni.
I put this in the front yard bed between the elderberry and the serviceberry because the goji berry I put nearby seems to be struggling to catch on and I want something to fill in the area.
The heritage raspberries planted on the other side of the yard are having some trouble too, so I wanted to plant it away from whatever is going on over there. The leaves on the canes that came up this spring were yellowing and wilting while the berries were attempting to ripen.
The soil is pure sand here and I’ve been dealing with some persistent sorrel-like weeds throughout this bed. As I pull them out, the wood chip mulch gets mixed into the sand and I suspect it’s taking up a lot of the nitrogen that the raspberries need to be happy. I decided to cut all the raspberries down. I pulled up all the weeds I could to clear the bed. Then I gave it a good layer of my best compost ever and planted a few tomato seedlings that I had left in the greenhouse. As everything regrows, I’m hoping the compost helps to correct whatever was going on with the raspberries. I feel like I’m hitting the reset button here.
What are those little funnel shaped holes in the sand?
For the past 2 years I’ve noticed small funnel shaped holes in the exposed sand around the yard. Sometimes, if I watch closely, I can see something swirling around in a circle, just below the surface of the sand, digging the little holes. It seemed confusing because the creature didn’t seem to be interested in digging DOWN, which is what I would think would be the point of digging a hole…. It stayed close to the surface and spun around and around.
Today, someone asked the question on Facebook and in a garden group and LOTS of people knew the answer!
The bugs that make these holes are called Ant Lions or Doodlebugs! Doodlebugs because they draw in the sand! They make these funnels to catch ants because the sides are very steep and the ants fall down into the sandy pit. The Ant Lion is waiting at the bottom to catch and paralyze the ant and inject enzymes to digest it’s prey from the inside out.
Find out more about Ant Lions in this video
When I learned about how these insects catch and eat the ants, I couldn’t help but think about Return of the Jedi when Luke arrived to rescue Princess Leah and Han Solo from Jabba the Hutt. They were forced to “walk the plank” which would have ended in a steep sand pit with some kind of hungry predator waiting for them at the bottom. In Star Wars, that creature was called a Sarlacc and had tentacles and teeth… but it’s hunting style is pretty similar to this earthling I just learned about today. I guess George Lucas knew about Doodlebugs!
This was fascinating to me because in our sandy soil, Mom always wondered why we didn’t have many fleas in the yard. Ants eat flea larva. And now, it seems, Ant Lions eat Ants!
The mosquitos and ticks I find periodically in the yard are upsetting, but it’s important to watch and observe the way NATURE handles things before we step in to eradicate and kill whole populations of insects for our own comfort.
What’s Blooming Now?
I planted this passionfruit, or Maypop, in this pot last year from a cutting my friend Phyllis gave me. The pot stayed outside all winter and now it’s blooming for the first time!
I’m looking forward to tasting this native edible fruit. My daughter can’t wait to make something tasty like ice cream or sorbet when the fruit turns ripe.
I think these are just about the coolest looking flowers I’ve ever seen.