Birthday Critters

My 13-year-old son just gave me one of my favorite birthday presents ever.

No fancy perfume for this mom.  I got…

Ever the practical kid, J ordered these because I’ve been lamenting the fact that bugs are eating my roses.  Not any more.  Within a few weeks, the literature says,  this egg case will hatch "about 100-200 tiny mantises, all at once."  I especially love the way Gardeners Supply Company describes the praying mantises’ promise to wreak havoc on garden pests. 

"Being strictly carnivorous, they’ll eat almost any insect of a size they can overcome.  Waiting in quiet ambush for hours at a time, when an insect comes wandering by, they suddenly jump out and attack — always biting the neck first."

How cool is that?

We attached the egg case to the rose bush this afternoon.

Watch out, aphids!  The Terminators of the insect world are on the way.

You know the compost worms are doing their job when…

…they finish eating the cucumber scraps and seedlings pop up amid the worm castings.

The kids I met during my author visit to Grand Isle School today loved the pictures I showed them of my basement worm farm (it’s research for my second Marty McGuire book!).  That reminded me that I haven’t posted a worm update in a while.

Never fear…the little guys/girls (worms are hermaphrodites) are doing their jobs well and enjoying a new layer of damp shredded newspaper bedding tonight.  The compost you see above is awaiting the end of mud season and will soon be nourishing seedlings in the vegetable garden outside.  

Meanwhile, we’re trying to decide what to plant this year – a big decision at our house since the garden has a number of raised beds, with each family member responsible for planning and tending to his or her own territory. 

Any suggestions?  (We’re Zone 4 on a good day!)  What are your favorite vegetables to grow in the garden?

I am not afraid of spiders. However…

Here is a picture of my fabulous husband cleaning out my kayak from the winter.

And here is a picture of the fabulously enormous spider that crawled out from under the seat.

EEEEK!!  At least he was cooperative enough to hang around while we went to get the camera and a quarter for perspective.  But still…EEEEK!!  I can guarantee I would have leaped out of the kayak if I’d discovered him out on the water.

After a thorough check under the seat for this guy’s friends and relatives, we went out for a lovely paddle on a calm lake before the winds picked up. Also got the vegetable garden in today, planted flowers by the mailbox, and finished reading TRACKING TRASH by Loree Burns and THE INVENTION OF HUGO CABRET by Brian Selznick.  Both amazing and unique, in amazingly different ways.  I’ll post reviews soon, but I’m being summoned for a bonfire now.  Virtual s’mores to my LJ friends!