Lady bugs and praying mantises are now available at Whiting Nursery. We think that is "really cool."
One of the biggest challenges early in the growing season is the damage that sucking insects, primarily aphids, can cause to tender new growth. For the past twenty years we have been creating habitat and fostering large populations of lady bugs to help maintain our vineyards' health.
Lady bugs, praying mantises, leafy winged scavengers, and other "beneficial insects" are a key component of our organic farming systems at Long Meadow Ranch. Mantises, in particular, are aggressive hunters and will eat a wide range of garden insects including aphids, mosquitoes, caterpillars, beetles, flies, grasshoppers, crickets, leaf hoppers, moths and many others.
Now home gardeners can get a head start by purchasing some of these beneficial insects for release in their home garden. Of course, there is no substitute for creating the right long-term habitat for the insects (otherwise they'll either just fly away or won't properly reproduce), but that is a longer story than a blog posting.
Whiting Nursery, a core element of our farm-to-table offering at Long Meadow Ranch & Farmstead in St. Helena, is now a wonderful resource for the home organic gardner and small scale grower. All of the new vegetable starter plants are organically raised, a wide array of organic fertilizers is in stock, Kevin Twohey is a rich source of horticultural knowledge, and, of course, we now have beneficial bugs. You can even buy organic chicken feed, too.
Our "big" idea is really starting to take shape. Explore, see, learn, eat, enjoy, and take-it-home. These "full cycle" experiences are all part of what we hope to provide to our community and to visitors at Long Meadow Ranch Winery & Farmstead.