Isn’t She Lovely

This lovely black & yellow Argiope aurantia spider has taken up residence in my garden, no doubt a granddaughter or great-granddaughter of the argiopes who used to build webs right across the walkway. Every year save last year we had argiope spiders in this area of the garden. I don’t know what happened last year, but I missed them.

I’ve read that the Argiope aurantia is also called a “writing spider” because of the zig-zag writing on their webs. As a writer I find that just, well, perfect! This one built her web with a camouflage backdrop of black-eyed susans. Very smart, methinks.

As my readers no doubt know, organic gardening and organic/healthy cooking are my two great passions. One reason I love organic gardening is so I can watch creatures like this one. Soon a tiny spider resembling a wisp of dead grass will make a home on the outer edges of her web. This will be the male. He will make her big and fat, she will eat him, and then she will lay eggs. Ain’t love grand.

Anyway, my interest in organic gardening has led me to find less toxic solutions to the usual problems which plague us here in Tennessee, notably mosquitoes, chiggers, poison ivy, etc. etc. I love an argiope spider but I really hate getting covered in chigger bites just walking around my garden in the morning. Plus we have pets, and a koi pond, and I don’t want to freak out about what I’m spraying on my herbs and vegetables that end up on the dinner table. So here are my two favorite products (and no, I’m not receiving one penny to endorse this stuff. They really work):

• Garlic Barrier — This stuff works great on mosquitoes, chiggers, fleas and just general garden pests. It’s made of garlic so your garden smells like an Italian restaurant for about three hours but the smell does dissipate. The only problem is that you need to spray everything about once a month or so, but I guess that’s true of any product. However, it seems to repel the stuff you don’t want and not bother the stuff you DO want.

Nature’s Avenger Organic Weed Killer Herbicide — The irony of an “organic herbicide” notwithstanding, let me tell you: this stuff rocks! It smells like oranges and when they say it works fast, trust me, they mean it. Shake it up, spray it, and in a few hours your weeds are shriveling.

It’s the perfect organic alternative to RoundUp, which is made by Monsanto, which everyone knows is evil. But even if Monsanto weren’t evil and RoundUp wasn’t an endocrine disruptor in mice and a cause of genetic damage in small critters (and who knows, maybe big ones too), I’d still recommend Avenger because, to repeat: it rocks. So, that’s today’s organic gardening tip.

• Bat Guano — I don’t buy a lot of fertilizer because when you have a koi pond your filter gives you a lot of lovely nutrient-rich pond sludge which is the best fertilizer I know. But I decided to give the bat guano a try on my shrubs and, well, holy smokes! My shrubs have taken off like a rocket ship. Also, I didn’t have enough for my entire hedgerow, and you can really see which shrubs got the bat guano and which ones didn’t.

Anyway, I’m not getting anything for recommending this stuff or linking to Arbico Organics which is the online catalog I use. I’m sure you can find this stuff in a lot of places online.

9 Comments

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9 responses to “Isn’t She Lovely

  1. >spider: yes. bat shit: yes. SoBe isn't wrong. they are helpful and they work, very well, used appropriately. i don't have spiders that pretty where i'm at, in my 5b organic space. i did have some serious toads this year. that rocked. they eat the nasties too. also: underground critters. i'm learning to live peacefully with them, as they seem to eat some root system (boo!) but also control other pests (yeah!). loverly spider. as they say, "if you have spiders in your house/grounds, it's because you *need them.*" that's the formula i go with, where i kill a lot of other insects on sight.

  2. >Oooh I want toads! I tried to introduce some to my pond but the koi ate them. :-(I don't know that I have underground critters but I do have squirrels trying to bury acorns right now and that is very annoying.

  3. >AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGH FUCKING HUGE SPIDER KILLITKILLITKILLITKILLIT *stampstampstampstomptromptromptromp*…jk. 🙂 Spiders still make me jumpy, tho – we've had black widows and brown recluses around and in the house all bloody summer…

  4. >spiders living outside are always welcome… spiders in my house are killed on sight.That is a cool looking spider. We once had a huge spider that had a shiny silver streak on its back living in some bushes next to our house.

  5. >Lovely! I used to have an argiope in my backyard too. Also had one of these. For human interest, I always try to include bundled up little Republicans in the shot.The reason why tea baggers are such angry people? They don’t do enough of THIS.

  6. >AH! Octopus is that a golden orb spider? I don't think we have those here.

  7. >Thanks for the links! I was contemplating a spider post today, actually. The sulfur butterflies have hatched en masse, which means the Golden Orb Banana Spiders will be throwing up webs at hip height everywhere. That's a gorgeous Writing Spider shot. We had those in NC when I was growing up; the older kids scared the younger ones by telling them that, when the spider writes your name, you die. My name had a lot of pointy ups and down in it, which sent me straight to the Encyclopedia Britannica to look those spiders up!Just noticed Octo's Banana spider–that's a fabulous shot! I think they've been moving their territory northward, which says something to me about climate change.