Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
With her usual sense of humor, Amy Stewart brings us an in depth look at the world of mean-scary-bad bugs in Wicked Bugs (Algonquin Books, 2011, $18.95) She divulges the secret lives of the likes of bedbugs, brown recluse spiders, cockroaches, and chigger mites. The book is broken down into categories of dangerous, deadly, horrible, destructive, and painful. The information is useful and the illustrations are accurate and illuminating. Did you know, for example, that millipedes are actually beneficial, breaking down leaf litter into compost, and that monkeys in Venezuela rub the juice from squashed millepedes into their fur to keep mosquitoes at bay? If facts like this interest you, then I heartily recommend this book.
Favorite or New Plant
November is the ideal time to plant seed for sweet peas (Lathyrus odoratus). Sweet peas are very deep rooted and need a planting bed rich in organic matter. Select a site in full sun for best results. The seed casings are tough, so soak them overnight prior to planting to improve germination. Keep the seed bed moist until seedlings appear, then pinch tops to promote strong side branching.