Ladybugs Arrive | Juan Cabrillo

Funny how one way to attract (and keep!) good bugs in the garden is to have bad bugs first…

Juan Cabrillo has had an aphid problem for some time now. Frank and I tried solving the problem by a) pulling out hopeless plants b) planting things that would deter them like onions and flowers. And we almost bought ladybugs, who love to eat aphids.

Well, over winter break a remarkable thing happened. The artichoke that was cut back in late summer suddenly came back! It is now so huge that it covers more than half of a garden bed.

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Last week, Frank and I noticed that a bunch of bees were hangin’ out on the artichoke leaves. With the recent rain, I figured they were collecting water from the creases in the leaves. But apparently the leaves were sticky. It was hard to figure out from what.

This week, we realized it’s simply aphid juice.

You see – when aphids suck juice from plants, they leave a trail of stickyness behind which then attracts other animals to either lick up that stickiness or follow the trail to another snack: The aphid itself.

Ladybugs eat aphids. It’s their breakfast, lunch and dinner. It’s their midnight snack. Ladybugs, in all stages of their lifecycle, eat around 50 aphids a day!

So our aphid problem actually attracted ladybugs — and now they’re all over the place! Many students spied some ladybugs mating (and even saw some teeny larvas) which is a healthy sign that we’ll have more of these beneficial creatures.

It’s also a sign for a healthier garden 🙂

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Lastly, we planted pumpkins with the recess kids. A pumpkin had sprouted in the compost pile so, even though it’s not the season for this fruit, we will see what happens!

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– Ranger Hope

Hope Cox

Native to Tennessee, Hope fell in love with urban farming while majoring in Nutrition/Dietetics at UT Chattanooga. She volunteered at an urban farm there for two years and gleaned (pun intended!) bushels of knowledge about harvesting & planting, CSA box coordination, farmers market stands, school field trips, farm-to-table and more. When Hope moved to Los Angeles in late 2014, she began volunteering with EnrichLA and soon after became a Ranger. She loves sharing with her elementary students the hands-on experience of gardening, finding bugs, composting and eating from the garden. The expression of glee on the students' faces when they discover a new critter or favorite vegetable is the best part of Hope's day! One day, she hopes to be a real farmer in the country but for now is glad to be learning the ins-and-outs of inner-city farming.