Lady bugs are good for your garden

lettuce and spinach seedlings
Lettuce and spinach seedlings on April 11, 2015

Today I harvested romaine lettuce from my small, urban backyard container garden. This cool spring/summer has been perfect weather for my first attempt (OK first successful attempt) to plant lettuce. Lettuce prefers cooler temperatures and can tolerate partial sun and the shorter days of early Spring. I’ve been cutting the lower leaves off for the last few weeks to harvest a seemingly endless supply of romaine.

lettuce and spinach
Lettuce, spinach and parsley, May 11, 2015

When I brought the leaves inside to rinse them off, I noticed some weird looking insects that I know to be lady bug larvae (a.k.a. lady beetles or ladybird beetles). Who would have thought that such a prehistoric and nefarious looking insect could be good. But they are! So I carefully brought the leaves outside and transplanted the larvae to other plants.

Lady bug larvae on a leaf

Lady bugs are beetles in the Coccinellidae family and they eat aphids and scale insects, common pests found in gardens, orchards and the like, and their larvae feed on these pests too. In fact, you can buy boxes of lady bugs to distribute in your garden as a form of biological control for aphids.

I was actually tasked with the distribution of lady bugs inside of a hydroponic tomato greenhouse when I was in college. It was one of the first things I was asked to do, and while it was a little unsettling putting my hand into a writhing box of lady bugs—I found lady bugs in my clothes for days afterwards—I felt good about spreading my little partners in crime.

There are a lot of insects that are good for your garden, lady bugs are just one of them. We need insects to pollinate flowers and give us vegetables and seeds, to spread pollen around and increase the diversity of our plant species. And for my lettuce and other vegetables, before the warm summer causes my lettuce to get bitter tasting and bolt (produce a flower stalk), I welcome the site of these tiny predators that help sustain balance in my organic garden. If you needed another reason not to use chemicals, I hope I just gave you one!

My first Op Ed that no one published

From September 2013:

A strange and disturbing trend permeates headlines after choosing “Women” as a favorite category in Huffington Post. Articles about weight, sex, breakups, and shopping keep popping up in my main headlines. It might just be me, it might be that it’s 6am, but I think I’m insulted.

Don’t get me wrong, there are also riveting articles in the Women’s section of Huffington Post, I often retweet them to my women’s group. But predominantly from my front page: Does every breakup have a silver lining, Three signs he’s not really sorry, Four secrets to a perfectly imperfect marriage, Adult film star explains sex, Four signs he’s not the one; anyone annoyed yet? These are the articles currently highlighted on my Front Page because I selected “Women”. If I go to the actual Women’s section though, and scroll, buried are the more enthralling articles about women’s issues. So why are articles about sex in a Women’s section? Last I heard men have sex too. I think this perpetuates the belief that women are the ones who need to get better at sex, try harder, keep their partner.

Not too veer too far off my main point, but all of these articles about sex and relationships also contain the assumption that women are in heterosexual relationships, or maybe it’s just if there isn’t a man in the equation then we don’t need help in bed? I am confused.

I am newly embracing feminism, though I have always considered myself a feminist, there seems only recently (to me anyway) to be a resurgence of the movement that is not as critical, not as isolating, not as cookie cutter. I can like pink and be a feminist, can’t I? I am a woman and a girl, OK? And I can be a pink-liking girl and still be mad at dumbed down articles catering to stereotypes, the ones we are working so hard to obliterate, aren’t we?

But getting back to my disappointment in Huffington Post, and please remember I have yet to drink my tea—Huffington Post, these are not women’s stories. They should be under a Life section, or a Relationship section, maybe a Shopping section or Sex section; I can help if you need more ideas. How can we ask society to change its behavior when the same old stereotypes are being perpetuated?

I am riding the wave of the Lean In movement and enjoying the debate, conversation, and different points of view. It’s making me think, at times it’s making me angry, it’s making me question, and mostly, it’s making me happy to be a woman. But Huffington Post, your Women’s section is not doing us any favors, at least the stories that are getting highlighted on the Front Page. Women and men may both be interested in articles about better sex, better shopping and self improvement, but sticking them in a women’s section sends the wrong message, don’t you think?