Prevention & Pests – Praying Mantis Pods – Again

What a beauty! My husband and I went on a meadow/woodland walk over the weekend, on an intense search for praying mantis pods. We found three.

Over the course of the past two years, I stopped putting the mantis pods about the gardens because the hatched mantises might eat what I loved: butterflies, ladybugs, and hummingbirds. In fact, in my error, I think I even carried away from the yard a mantis pod or two. Big mistake!

When did I realize I had made the bad judgement call? A week or two ago, trying to get a jump on eradicating insect pests without using chemicals, I gave earnest thought to why my plant foliage had suffered constant assault during the past two summers. In short, sawflies, and other insects who devour foliage, have bamboozled me! The sawflies have been the bane of enjoying the garden beds. The hibiscus, and especially my roses, become the victims of their larvae stage munching. The rose leaves begin to resemble stained glass as the insects eat and grow larger. I have tried to handpick the pests off, but with dozens of rose bushes, it is impractical. I wondered anew why the problem has been impossible to control and realized the infestations coincided with me banning mantis pods from my gardens. We went on the mantis pod hunt a few days after this light bulb moment.

Within twenty minutes, half a mile from my home, we found three pods in the weeds bordering a dirt road. We knew there were probably hundreds more we didn’t see as they are well camouflaged among the beige and brown grasses. I don’t feel bad about moving them. The border grasses and wildflowers edging the road are considered disposable and are frequently mowed. We probably saved the pods from the whirling destruction of mower blades.

Praying Mantises are often themselves the victim of predators. Several on the predator list live in my yard or frequently visit: spiders, bearded dragons, lizards, chickens, snakes, hawks, owls, cardinals, scorpions. I would add large toads to the list and other insect-eating birds.

Prevention – Immunity Booster/Echinacea Tea


Echinacea is a terrific supplement for enhancing your immune responses. I like to use Echinacea in tea form. The warmth of the brew seems so much more conducive to believing you are being boosted than popping a supplement. The taste is rather nondescript, so to enhance and cool the tea, I add a splash of my favorite fruit juice.

There are some precautions on who should take Echinacea. The University of Maryland has a good article on the do’s and don’ts of using Echinacea.

Echinacea is also a terrific garden plant, and one of the workhorses of my gardens. Not only are they beautiful when cloaked in their summertime blossoms…


They also form attractive seedpods that help supplement the diet of local birds all through the winter. I think they are beautiful dappled with yesterday’s light snowfall.


My Echinacea grows best in 6 -8 hours of sun per day. Planted near the birdfeeder, the plant provides both a meal and a resting place for birds throughout the entire year.


Plants & Prevention – Broccoli Sprouts

Broccoli sprouts are a superfood. Part of the cruciferous family of vegetables, broccoli packs quite a nutritional punch as a cancer prevention, respiratory health enhancer, and decreaser of triglyceride levels. “Sulfaraphane-rich broccoli sprouts may be the key to lowering your risk for heart disease,” says an article at Healthy Eating. “Young broccoli sprouts contain up to 50 times more of the antioxidant sulforaphane than broccoli.


Five to seven days ago I found an old packet of broccoli sprouting seeds that I’ve had since 2011. I wasn’t sure if the seeds were still viable, but rather than waste them, I put them in water to soak for 24 hours. When the time came to drain the water, I covered the glass with a sprouting lid and drained the water away. For the next few days I rinsed the seeds with water twice a day and let the glass drain upside down at an angle. Even though the seeds were not fresh, most sprouted for me.


If you don’t have a sprouting lid, there are many other alternatives: cheesecloth, netting, I’ve even used old pieces of lace rubber-banded around the top of a glass or jar.


To remove the spent seed hulls I soak the sprouts in a bowl of water. The seed hulls float and gather at the sides of the container. I remove these by running a finger around the edge, depositing the hulls in the sink to wash down the drain. Any seeds that don’t sprout usually drop to the bottom of the bowl, making for easy removal.


If you don’t eat your sprouts immediately please refrigerate them. They will stay fresh for several days stored in a chilly environment. I use my sprouts on sandwiches, in salads…once I even used alfalfa sprouts in a meatloaf, trying to sneak in extra nutrition for my family…problem was the small plantlets stayed a brilliant green…well, you know the story about some people and eating “GREEN FOOD!”

My favorite source of sprouting seeds and microgreens is Pinetree Garden Seeds and Accessories. I find them very reliable, the seeds they sell stay fresh for me for years if stored in a cool, dry place. Give sprouts a try…your immune system will thank you.