Spiders and Lizards and Toads, OH MY

So one of the goals that SSH and I have set for our house is to not use herbicides or pesticides unless absolutely necessary. (Fire ant piles are one of the few things so far that’s been necessary) We use neem oil, baking soda, and other preventative measures with our plants, plus a mulching lawnmower to keep the grass nice. And a trowel and some elbow grease to remove weeds that get big enough to look particularly icky.

One of the benefits of this treatment is the healthy, thriving ecosystem in our yard. We have lots of beneficial insects, including wasps, dragonflies, and assassin bugs, plus honeybees in the bee garden. And we also have a ton of native critters.

Brown earth snakes and garter snakes hang around, especially in the gardens. We’ve had a snapping turtle take up residence under the tomato plants. And the lizards. Holy crap, so many lizards. When you open any of the doors, herds of baby lizards go streaking across the sidewalk. I’m always afraid I’m going to step on one. The anoles get bigger than any I’ve seen before too – some are close to 6 inches.

In the last week I have seen six separate toads. I am reasonably sure they are actually six DIFFERENT toads, and not the same toad six times. Some in the gardens, some around the potted plants, one hanging out on the front porch. Cute, fat toads.

And now that it’s getting to be fall, the jewel-back spiders are out again.

I was thinking about this today, and I realized it sounds a little like a wicked witch lives here. We’re actively cultivating a yard with a snake, toad, lizard, and spider population.

But then I also have a garden specifically for bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies, so I guess that balances out.

First Spring Harvest

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Hopefully the first of many. That basket is completely filled with beans, and there will be more. The bean plants are covered with little beans still! (sadly the purple beans aren’t as prolific)

The corn is about shoulder height, and so are the tomatoes. No little corns yet, but lots of little tomatoes – the one that was ripe is a patio, and both patio plants are plastered with fruit as well (so much that one is top heavy enough to threaten to fall over every time I nudge it. Glad I have it caged!)

The herbs are also doing well, especially the butterfly bed. Zillions of lizards too, and at least one brown earth snake. I’ve not seen as many honeybees as I’d like though 🙁

November Tomatoes!

While I can’t say much for the rest of the garden (other than the eggplants), I seem to have had pretty good luck growing second season tomatoes this year. The broccoli and cauliflower are growing well, but not producing, and the squash are covered in flowers – but no squash, but the tomato plants are just covered in fruit and blooms.

I’m thinking I may just call it quits on trying to grow squash – I’ve just not had good luck with it here. The plants grow alright, but they either get sick and die, get stressed and die, or dry out and die. And then I’m stuck with huge swaths of garden that are not producing, which makes me kinda sad. Especially with how well eggplant and tomatoes do. Maybe I should just stick to nightshades!

Anybody want pie?

It’s that time of year again, when the citrus around here are ripening and turning sweet! Citrus requires cold weather to turn sweet – the fruit has been set on the tree for several months. This year we’ll likely have another bumper crop of limes – there are at least three times that many still on the (not that large) tree!

These are Mexican or Key limes – same/similar variety, just not grown on Key West. They’re yellow when ripe, but green on the inside. Delicious!