Can You Help Identify a Summer Spider on Mississippi Native Fern?

This morning I was out back in the garden. Specifically I was checking out my native ferns in my little fern grotto. Camera in hand I captured a couple of photos of this small, brown spider on a fern frond. He/she was about an inch and  a half long, perhaps two inches long.

Summer spider on Mississippi native fern.

 

After I went inside the house, I tried to search online for entomology sites where I could identify it.  The abdomen seemed soft and fuzzy. There was an obvious stripe down the middle of the head. The leaf he was perched upon was about 12″ above the ground. There is no water near my fern bed, although it did rain over an inch yesterday. We have many trees in our yard and plenty of shade.  I didn’t see any webbing, egg sacs, etc. On the above photo you can see the vertical spines/hairs on the legs. (I thought this was super cool, because I’m practicing using my extension tubes!) I didn’t get a front photo so I don’t have the ability to count his eyes.

My best “guess” is perhaps a grass spider, Agelenopsis spp.? If you can positively identify what I believe is a common spider, please let me know.  I don’t think it is a dark fishing spider (Dolomedes tenebrosus), although it had first crossed my mind. I love learning new things about the natural world around us.

At any rate, he/she is certainly welcome.

 

Yours in Gardening,

The Garden Maiden

 

copyright 2017 The Garden Maiden

http://thegardenmaiden.com

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Categories: Garden Insects, Observations from My Garden of Goods & Evils | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Spicy Bit of Garden Evil in the Kitchen

Today is my day to spend all day working in the garden and yard. I actually like to think of my entire outdoor space as a garden. No writing today. (wait, what?) Just working outside. But I do need to plan for and prepare dinner. On the menu: fried pork chops (from the local meat market-no not a dance club, an actual place where you can purchase meat), fried potatoes and onions, wilted lettuce (thank you Grandmother) and jalapeno cheese cornbread.

Before I head outside, I decided to bake my cornbread since from 3-6 p.m. we are on a “summer rate” time of use plan with electric co-op, so using the stove is off limits. The basis for my recipe is from Food.com. I tweak it to make it lower sodium with the following changes: use 1 no salt added (NSA) can of cream corn (thus reduce the milk to only 2C), fresh peppers (not canned or pickled), NSA baking powder, and Swiss cheese (about the lowest sodium cheese you can buy). I also use local honey instead of sugar and coconut oil instead of vegetable oil. All of this goes into my trusty, old cast iron skillet (an amazing wedding gift from my Grandma-in-law, now deceased).

Anyway, there I was in the kitchen putting my ingredients together. My garden peppers are coming along fine, and those that I overwintered have started producing harvestable fruit, but not the jalapenos. So I mosey (yeah, I do that sometimes) on over to the fridge and pull out two jalapenos purchased from the grocery store. Then I remembered a baggie of frozen peppers in the freezer that a friend brought us from Stillwater, Oklahoma a couple of years ago. With the new peppers coming on, it was time to clean out the freezer, so I grabbed the baggie.  How many years ago was it? Two? Three? Nearly four? What kind of peppers were these? My memory was fuzzy. The last time I pulled one out to put on a pizza it was not spicy at all. I guess they brought us sweet peppers. It doesn’t seem right. However, I know the last pepper was sweet. Yellow and sweet.

I decided that to add color and texture I would put the last six remaining “sweet” peppers from Stillwater into my cornbread. I chopped each small yellow and red pepper into three or four chunks. I dumped them into my bowl of dry ingredients. As I was about to put the last pepper in, I paused. Erring on the side of caution, for kicks and giggles, I pop a piece into my mouth and move it around with my tongue.  Oh my Garden of Good and Evils!!!!! NOT A SWEET PEPPER. NOT A SWEET PEPPER. Now, I love hot peppers just as much as any other spicy food addicted fool, but I immediately spit out what I can only assume was a habanero.  As I gazed upon my bowl filled with chopped peppers that may be habaneros, I thought of a sticker at my favorite Mexican restaurant in Slidell, Louisiana: in queso emergency, pray to cheeses!

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I grabbed a fork and fished out all the flour and cornmeal-covered pieces that I could find.  I decided to go ahead and bake the cornbread. I just couldn’t waste all those ingredients, but I also knew I did not remove all the hot pepper pieces. Against all odds, I placed the batter-filled skillet into the oven, set the timer, and stepped away.

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Hating to have wasted all the peppers that now couldn’t be used for anything, I quickly remembered my nemesis in the garden. THE SQUIRRELS.

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Earlier this spring I was able to deter the squirrels out of some planted containers by sprinkling pizza peppers from the kitchen spice rack onto the soil. This seemed to work, although the sprouted pepper plants were a surprise. (oh, yes, they did germinate after eight years in a container!) However, for the last few weeks, I raised my fists in rage daily to find the squirrels had dug in numerous plant pots and raised beds, killing many seedlings and kicking out my new expensive soil amendments onto the ground. Racing to the trash can I gently fished out all the hot pepper pieces onto a napkin. Into the garden I sprinted with evil delight. I placed pepper pieces into the plant containers that I knew my dachshunds could not access.  SUCK IT SQUIRRELS, I laughed maniacally.

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Spicy peppers sprinkled among Passiflora seedlings to deter squirrels.

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Now, my cornbread is done baking. I cannot wait to try a slice.  Moreover, I cannot wait to see if the squirrels mess with my plants for the next few days.

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Cornbread which may have been baked with habanero peppers.

The moral of this story is ALWAYS label your stored peppers.  Time goes by and memory fades, and remembering incorrectly could really put you in hot water.

My brow is still sweating and my nose is still running, but now it is time to venture out into the garden and get to work.  Rain is coming tomorrow. Rain that will help all my peppers grow, including my ghost peppers.

 

Stay spicy my friends,

The Garden Maiden

PS I thought I wasn’t supposed to be writing today?

 

copyright 2017 The Garden Maiden http://thegardenmaiden.com

Categories: Observations from My Garden of Goods & Evils | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Snapshots of Spring

Yesterday while working outside, we had a brief, lovely and much needed light shower of rain. It only lasted a few minutes, but I tool the opportunity to snap a few backyard shots while I waited.

This post is mostly for friends and family who are wondering how things are growing on for us in the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

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This concrete block bed has produced some tasty radishes this spring. Between the bed and the shed (were I am standing out of the rain), are three clumps of lemon grass. Yesterday I planted parsley, marigold, sage and yellow crookneck summer squash around the bed perimeter.  Intra-planted with the radishes are several volunteer tomato plants. I use last year’s pruned crape myrtle branches to support the vines.

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The bed above was amended with Happy Frog potting soil, but needs more in the block holes. Some of the block holes are planted with Swiss chard (seen here) and the bed itself is planted with two varieties of leaf lettuce.  Look how nicely the copyright shows up at the top of the image. Why? Because my white fence is filthy with mildew and needs a good scrubbing! (add to to-do list)

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One smokey fennel survived last year, planted from seed. Growing in a concrete block hole, I think its roots finally made it to the soil in the ground beneath the bed because it has really taken off this spring. In case it has been too long since I mentioned it, the original soil added to all of my raised beds was total CRAP. That was several years ago and I have been playing catch up trying to fix the soil since.

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Other plants which have done well in the holes of concrete blocks are lemon balm and oregano (featured here above).

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Yeah, I know, the carrots need thinned. To be honest, I did thin and transplant them once. I am the worst at thinning. I hate to do it. I hate to “waste” plants. I try to transplant when possible. Then, of course, the squirrels have dug them up several times. Grrrrr.

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In the rear of this bed (above) the confederate jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides) is flowering profusely, perfuming the entire garden area. Pine straw mulch really made this area pop. I worked hours pulling up dewberry vines.

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I love this big old fountain, even without a “fountain function”, it works great as a fish bowl and bird bath. The gold fish eat the mosquito larvae.

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Gator don’t sweat! Sure doesn’t, because its made of resin, but he sure looks fine guarding the garden. (note to self, prune old palm fronds)

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The garden sweet peas are just coming on with the first harvested pea going to one of the wiener dogs a couple of days ago.

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Last year the hubby bought me a real bottle tree to replace the decrepit, rotting one I made out of  our old Christmas tree.  (free worked for about a year, but then the branches bent and rotted and the bottles fell off and filled with rain water and mud and it became a gross mess) These begonias are great and came back from last year. The rose bush blooms nearly year-round, taking off only about six weeks, give or take. The tiny garden fairy was given to me by my dear Grandmother.

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Look sister, we still have the patio fire pit! It was going strong all weekend as burned some old logs we had saved for a future gathering. Why? Because on Wednesday the Terminix man said, “they gotta go”. Basically that is what he said. ha. Can you smell the pine wafting through the garden?

Overall, these images are darker and greener than normal because it was cloudy and raining lightly during my little snap session with the cell phone (a very poor camera, but it is what it is).

That’s it for now. I have writing to do that actually PAYS and I have just a wee bit of “good light” left to take photos of the sweet and spicy smelling Calycanthus floridus (Florida sweetshrub/Carolina allspice) flowering discretely out back.

Cheers!

The Garden Maiden

 

Categories: Observations from My Garden of Goods & Evils, What's Blooming | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment
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