I've been entranced by a wicked-looking spider!
I first noticed this green lynx spider (Peucetia viridans) out in my marigold cover crop on September 10th when she'd bent the marigold leaves together with her silk. I left this section of marigolds in place and built wide rows on either side for our fall crops.
|I first noticed this spider on 09/10/16 out in the marigolds as she seemed to have created a cocoon with marigold leaves.||Look at how much fatter she is on 09/27/16,
as she sucks the juices from her yellow jacket prey.
The green lynx adventure in the marigolds continued when she built an egg case and protected it from October 1 until November 1 when the eggs hatched.
|On 10/01/16 she created an egg mass under a marigold flower.||On 11/03/16, 2 days after the babies emerged,
they'd already shed their first skins.
Pollinators like the marigolds, some came too close and became food for the spider mom and her babies, others like this large black wasp did not.
|Pollinators are attracted to the marigolds. This black wasp is almost twice as big as our spider mom and even though it was entangled in her web, it got away on 11/01/16.||On 11/17/16, spider mom hung upside down to reveal her heart shaped belly.|
Fall & winter is the busiest time in Florida's edible gardens
As enchanting as our spider mom was, I really needed that space for our cool-weather crops. I compromised and left the south end of the marigolds where she's been all these months in place, but added 2 short wide rows on the other half and transplanted my parsley crop there. I'll add a couple of loads of kitchen scraps in between. I do most of my trench composting during the cool-weather growing season.
|I'd left a whole section of marigolds alone just so I could observe the spider. I did create 2 short rows in half the space and planted it with parsley.|
I'd been meaning to add more capacity to our vegetable growing area, so losing part of a bed to the spider, no matter how enchanting, was a signal to get off my butt and get it done. Our bench was only used for staging stuff into or out of the garden since it's normally in sun all day. Of course at this time of year with the sun so low in the sky, there are shadows now from the trees, but most of the year, it's too darn hot. So I built the new bed in the bench spot. I'm deciding where the bench should go, so more on that later.
|Our teak bench had been sitting next to the elevated rain barrels.|
|After clearing out the weeds, the first layer is wood chips.|
|The next layer is leaves that had been sitting in a pile for more than a month.|
|Next layer is compost and soil mixed together. Lots of worms came with this layer.|
I'd been using this compost as I prepared each part of the vegetable beds for planting, but still had a good supply. I mixed the compost 3 to 1 with garden soil and laid in a 6-inch layer on top of the leaves. There were many worms in this load which will help prepare the bed for planting. I topped the bed with a 4-inch layer of freshly raked leaves. And I watered it with 3 gallons of rain barrel water.
|The bed is finally topped with freshly raked leaves.|
I'll continue the vigil in the marigolds as the weather gets colder and I'll leave all those woody marigold stems in place so some of the babies will have enough cover to survive. I'll keep an eye out for them in the spring. I hope you are enjoying your fall gardening and maybe even taking some time out to enjoy our wonderful state parks. Support your parks by using them and donating money and/or time.
Green Gardening Matters,