i woke up early to attend a zoom book lecture about the history of the communist party. it was a little boring, and like many western authors that choose to study china, they walk a delicate balance of not saying anything that might upset the chinese government, otherwise they have their china access revoked and visa cancelled. for a chinese scholar, that's the kiss of death. anyway, i also discovered the whole lecture was available on youtube, so i simply had it in the background while i did something else.

i was researching ways to prevent cucumber beetles, and came across some info on using kaolin clay as a preventive spray. apparently the clay confuses the beetles and they leave the cucurbits alone, not recognizing them as food. i read some stuff that swore by the technique, but also those who said it was ineffective. i decided to get some kaolin clay to try it out, the cheapest amount i could find on amazon was 1 lbs. for $10. actually, when i think about it, i think i've seen squash and melon plants in china covered in this white clay. at the time i thought it was just neglect due to the dusty clay soil, but in hindsight, i think they might've done it on purpose to protect the cucurbits.

i had planned on paying my garden plot a visit this morning, but i had the bright idea of going to my parents' place in the afternoon first to pick up some replacement aster seedlings before heading to the garden to plant them once the sun wasn't so high in the sky.

around 1:30pm i biked down to market basket to deposit some cans then get some groceries. since i still had plenty of tortilla wraps, i decided to continue making my buffalo chicken wraps, this time grilling the chicken in a pan after first marinating them in some buffalo chicken hot sauce. all i needed was more chicken.

i came back by around 2pm. after putting the food away in the fridge, i went out again, this time on my motorcycle. i first went to get some gas - the first time i filled up the bike since taking it out of the garage a month ago - before arriving in belmont.

originally i was just there to grab the seedlings and go, but i ended up staying for 2 hours, doing all sorts of backyard work: fill the birdfeeder with fresh sunflower seeds; applied 4 bags of brown wood mulch to the path behind the raised beds; relocated some cardinal climber seedlings from RB4 to other parts of the garden; lay down salt marsh grass in RB4 so the soil doesn't dry up after watering; rinse the pollen off of the solar pollen (100ft hose too long, not enough pressure to reach); examine the cherry plum and take photos of the ladybug larvae. the only thing i didn't do was water, figured my father was doing that in the mornings.

the cherry plum is losing its leaves, not sure if it's because of aphid damage or because i scorched them when i twice applied neem oil in the hot sun. same thing happened last year though, i might've sprayed as well, but with serenade biofungicide. it doesn't mean i can't spray, i just can't spray when it's sunny out, because the dark leaves are prone to heat damage. there's a secret war going on in this tree, a battle between aphids and ladybugs. all over i saw aphids, but i also saw a good amount of ladybug larvae. the neem oil didn't seem to hurt them, or if they did, there were more replacements. the leaves were sticky with aphid honeydew, the whole tree could use a good rinsing (or just some rain to wash everything off). besides ladybug larvae, i also saw a hoverfly larvae. plenty of things prey on aphids. i just wonder if they're enough, or should i continue to spray insecticide judiciously.

i left sometime after 4pm. besides the box of aster seedlings, i also grabbed one of the cypress vine seedlings. i was too tired to do more garden work in my own garden so i just went home. back at home, i swept all the oak catkins (actually male flowers) from the backyard and tossed them in the garden refuse bin.

i ate dinner early for a change, sometime after 7pm, when i had some cold leftover barbecued drumsticks. they're losing their flavors, i may need to spice things up with sauces. i ate while watching game 2 of the playoff game between the nets and celtics. boston seemed resigned to losing the series, and game 2 was a lopsided win for brooklyn.