No Pill Bug Left Behind!

Things are stirring in the studio and I have some pictures to prove it. But first here is a story from the garden:

On Saturday we put in all the summer stuff: twelve varieties of tomatoes, yellow straight neck squash, zucchini, hot Thai peppers, jalapenos, sugar snap peas, cucumbers, radishes and assorted herbs. It was so beautiful all lined up perfectly in rows, dark composted soil neatly raked, mounds of fragrant cedar mulch in little donuts around each plant. On Monday it rained a lovely, long, soft rain and I thought to myself: "How perfect!"

Unbeknownst to me a silent but deadly attack was taking place all day Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. When I marched out to the garden to check things out yesterday afternoon I was dismayed to see two tomato plants completely chopped in half (or should I say chomped in half), a fan of slowly decomposing radish leaves on the ground and half of a squash plant gone. I bent down to take a look and discovered the soil moving. It was, I am sad to report, a veritable army of Rollie Pollies, Pill bugs in mass, Sow bugs on a mission, Woodlice at war. These little critters where attacking all my new plants by gathering in a group, surrounding the stem and munching it until it timbered to the ground. Upon closer examination I saw they were eating the roots as well. Argh!! What to do?

All afternoon I battled the critters. I dumped diatomateous earth over everything, poured coffee at the base of the plants, scattered coffee grounds, set orange slices out to trap them, picked off the bugs one by one and even squished them with my bare hands! Did you know that these ugly bugs are edible? It turns out they are related to shrimp in some bizarre way. I read online about one man who dared to scoop up a spoonful and try it out. I am not that brave or that desperate.

Today there are less around, but I lost a pepper plant and another piece of the squash in the night. By tomorrow all the plants I have been mothering for weeks on the porch may be reduced to stumps. That would certainly make me weep. I might even tear my hair out a bit. For now the Great Rollie Pollie War of 2009 roars on. I am preparing yeast traps as we speak!

Other parts of the garden are thriving so it is not all going bust. I have 4 new plants volunteering from my purple passion vine. The bees are out in full force, drawn by the amazing fragrance of the blossoms on the lemon tree. Yellow daisies are bursting out of a bush by the front door. The old fashioned rose is covered in beautiful little white buds that smell divine. I have a vase full on my desk right now.

Here are a few pictures of some new work. I am calling these things "experiments". It helps me to play a little if I don't have the burden of having to make ART hanging over me. Three pieces made with watercolor and gold pen.

These next two pieces I did for Lent and Easter. The Lenten piece was used for the cover of a Lenten Devotional that David and I put together.



Finally, and just for fun, a whale:


Heather said...

I understand your pain! I have rolly pollies (or pill bugs), but the experts insist they only eat what's already dead. I don't know about that.
But my nemesis--the squirrels. We have so many lovely trees housing so many unlovely squirrels. I'm beginning to suspect that squirrels are actually an effect of the Fall. They dig, dig, dig, even where they have not sowed (i.e. buried their treasures), but where I have sowed. Oh, my poor seeds and seedlings! I think those squirrels are in cahoots.

PhaedraJean ArtMachine said...

Heather, I am totally with you on the Squirrels. I make more groaning and grunting noises over their little destructive tenancies than I can count. My dad has offered his air rifle as a final solution... I am very tempted. We have big pecan trees in the front and back yards so they are in paradise here. I guess the think we set out all those baby plants just for them to feast on.
They also eat all the (unripe) figs off our glorious big fig tree in the back. I have no warm feelings toward those little terrors!

Katie said...

If you cut a grapefruit in half, eat the flesh, and then put the peel in the garden around the plants, it is supposed to kill the roly polies. I have heard this from multiple sources! It's worth a shot. :)

bfett81 said...

We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France,
we shall fight on the seas and oceans,
we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be,
we shall fight on the beaches,
we shall fight on the landing grounds,
we shall fight in the fields and in the streets,
we shall fight in the hills;
we shall never surrender!

PhaedraJean ArtMachine said...

I tried the grapefruit idea but with oranges. It seemed to attract them but not kill them. I was able to get rid of a whole bunch at once because they were all congregated on the orange. Maybe grapefruit has something that actually kills them. I will try it again. For now they are hiding from the sun under the chard.
Thanks for the inspiration. I feel ready to conquer. :)

shannon newby said...

Love your "experiments!" Will people in other states and churches have access to your Lenten devotional? It sounds great and I'd love a copy!! :)

Shannon Newby

Shaun said...

It's always nice to see your work. I am still waiting to see some octopi and squid show up, though.

livingpalm said...

I have missed your stories and missed your art during my Lenten blog fast. How fun that this post includes both! I like the experiments too. Tell me, is there significance to the "1,2,3" you've included in several?

Ben Langford said...

we want more bloggy!


Heather said...

We planted a garden as well, thinking that the danger of frost was well past, having planted late March before.
I planted. That night, a frost came. All but one bell pepper plant succumb to the cold; the tomatoes mostly survived.
My dear husband bought more plants, planted again a couple of weeks later, and that night...another freeze! ARGH!
This time a the lone pepper that had survived the previous freeze, gave it up. 4 of the new plants survived. All of the tomatoes are gone :-(
We still have onions!
Husband is thinking of trying again this weekend. Seeing as today was a 90 degree day, we're thinking the danger of frost is over.
But now there is a new danger lurking apparently...the ever invasive rolly pollies.
Oh my!

Andrea said...

I know it's a little late for this comment but pill bugs don't eat live plants, what I suspect happened is a cutworm cut the plant down for them and the pill bugs were just cleaning up the mess, extremely lovely artwork though!