June 20, 2013

What Bugs Me

I cannot fully express how much I hate bugs! Not all bugs are bad, but these I took the time to take their picture...are bad. It seems every year, a new creature gets introduced to my garden. What makes it more frustrating is that not everyone that has a garden, has these pests. Last Saturday at the Waxhaw Farmers Market, I was talking to a fellow gardener about bugs, he has a few that I don't have and vice-versa. 

 Part of being a successful gardener is always carefully watching for bad bugs. They can destroy all your hard work. I check on the plants just about every morning and every evening. When I see bad bugs, I physically pick them off the plants & squish them. Sometimes I'll have a bucket of soapy water and just drop them in.

It is also important to figure out why the garden has these bad bugs and plan a course of action. One reason for bad bugs is not keeping the garden clean. One must keep the garden free of weeds and debris.  Dispose of weeds, old plant leaves, rotting vegetables, etc.... These bugs will over-winter in the garden in the debris and they'll continue to proliferate season after season. It is so vital that the garden is kept clean. It might seem easy, but its not an easy task. 

Here are a few of my bug rules , just in my experience:

  1. Anything that is chewing, making holes in the leaves or fruit = bad
  2. Anything that lays eggs on the back of the leaves = bad
  3. Most beetles = bad
  4. Worms that chew/destroy plant = bad. Earthworms are the exception , they are WONDERFUL
  5.  When you see tiny droplets of poo....look for a worm, most likely the culprit
  6. Any kind of Bees or wasps, are very beneficial.

do you know how hard it is to try to identify a bug when you've never seen it before? Take it from me, its pretty hard. I think, and maybe wrong.....from my research, its a false potato beetle. I have found several dead ones on the black plastic below the bed of Kale, Onions and Marigolds. And this photo was taken on the bed that the cauliflower and broccoli were in.

 At first glance, this may look like a ladybug....it is so very far from a ladybug. This little bug, commonly known as 'squash/cucumber beetle' absolutely obliterated my cucumber, squash and zucchini crop last year. The cucumber devastation was perhaps what set me over the edge. Having fresh, out of the garden cucumbers is what summer is all about...ha! There's nothing quite like a fresh out of the garden tomato or cucumber. I wont hardly eat them when these aren't in season--simply because they don't taste the same.

I have no idea what in the world this furry worm is doing...but I'm pretty sure he's not too beneficial. I'm hoping the birds will pick him up
i can not manage to get any photographs of the insects on the sunflowers, even for idenification purposes. there is one long bug that literally plays hide-n-seek with me. I try to look at the bug and it scoots around to the otherside....never flying off, just scoots to where I cant see it.
this is never good....eggs or tiny larvae on the back of the squash leaf

Another type of egg/larvae....i just have to clip the leaf off the plant
history might be repeating itself.....looks like the cucumber beetle has once again managed to destroy the cucumber plant. Can you see the bug-eaten weed right under the brown, dead cucumber leaf? That is a weed! Case in point...its all about keeping the area free of weeds.

How I deal with bugs

I use Diatomaceous Earth {DE}. You can read in detail about it here.  Last year was my first year using it. A 50 pound bag costs $25.00 and has lasted about 1 year. Its completely organic, no chemicals. It works wonders! Its very common to see dead bugs laying on the ground or on the plant.

 I buy some knee-highs (panty hose) from the drug store, load one up with the DE, and bounce it up and down at the base of the plant and dusting the leaves too. I apply DE as soon as I plant. And re-apply after the rain.  It doesnt work instantly because its a mechanical bug killer. And its more of a pro-active measure I take. That's what the white dust is that you'll see on my plants now that the summer like weather has arrived. It is NOT sevin dust!!!! You can refresh your memory on how I feel about Sevin dust here.

I don't want to use a shot-gun approach to gardening and certainly not such a poisonous substance...so much so that it kills all bugs. I'd rather pull up the plant than use poison. And I certainly don't want to inhale Sevin either! Besides, there are so many good bugs. Sevin also kills bees and bees are so very vital to the food we eat....it would startle you to know what bees are really responsible for....but that's a whole other post.

I am finding that I do not have bug problems in the raised beds. I attribute this to not having weeds in the bed, companion plants and keeping the area clean & tidy. The only issue I had was with cabbage loopers on the cauliflower. These come from moths. They lay eggs and worms hatch. And I only had the worms about 1-2 weeks before the cauliflower was ready to harvest.  I'll talk more about this when I post about our harvest.

We have awful pigweeds in the other half of the garden. The other half is where the squash, zucchini, corn, watermelons, cantaloupes and more cucumbers plants. When Iook at the pigweeds, I see the 3 types of squash, cucumber beetles feasting on the leaves. So, if we could only get a handle on these weeds, we'd we set.  We are working on solarizing the soil in order to kill the pigweeds and bugs in the ground that may hatch.


What else is going on....

  • Stevie brought home 5 more hens tonight.....now we have 9 chickens
this is their temporary pin...we have an area where we can let them roam, we just have to keep them pinned up for a few more weeks so they wont fly away

  • 3 Guineas
 guineas love to eat bugs...hopefully they will make a dent in the garden population!!

  • We have 2 bee hives going....each with about 12,000 bees in each

June 18, 2013

a garden tour

I seem to be short on words and way behind on posting....so enjoy the visual tour of whats growing and being harvested.

 may 22 :: harvesting broccoli leaves
IMG 9297
may 20 ::  sunflowers & beans are just wee little plants, planted from seed

IMG 0200
may 29:: sunflowers up close & growing

IMG 0245
 may 31 ::  sunflowers & beans are growing along fence 

                         may 31                         june 4:: should have picked it at this stage

IMG 0207

may 29 :: {black from tula }tomato plant is growing!
The Black from Tula is a Russian heirloom from the region in Tula. Its suppose to be the largest of the Black tomatoes (really, really dark red). My first time growing this heirloom variety

IMG 0232
pea plant is growing nicely...planted from seed

IMG 0236
carrot bed....planted from seed
IMG 0222
my beet washer

IMG 0238

IMG 0270
 kale, onions and shallots...planted onion bulbs

IMG 0294

IMG 0277

IMG 0282

IMG 0286

IMG 0284

IMG 0287

IMG 0302

IMG 0289

IMG 0292

planted beets from seed

IMG 0298

IMG 9282
 i need a farm house sink + a bigger refrigerator

IMG 8819
 may 16   planting more

IMG 0217
may 16 :: stevie in the background watering squash, zucchini, cucumbers and tomatoes (i.e. His Garden)

IMG 9021

we have been fortunate to have so much rain, but.....its causing the weeds to grow too

IMG 9244
 corn....planted from seed (kernels)

IMG 0433

june 6 :: look how quickly the corn grows & the weeds too...quite embarrassing

IMG 0422

IMG 0417


IMG 0409
tomato plants:: black cherry , qmish paste & black from tula

IMG 0413
 black cherry tomato plant

IMG 0408
 pea & cucumber trellis, morning glories, sunflowers, zinnas and marigolds      (all planted from seed)

IMG 0394
 marigold interplanted with tomatoes as well as cucmbers

IMG 0661
75 stalks of corn

IMG 0666
 pole beans

IMG 0667

 squash amongst pigweeds

IMG 0668

IMG 0669

IMG 0671
 this section has really grown

IMG 0676
some sunflowers are over 6 feet tall

IMG 0677
 black cherry tomatoes are multiplying

IMG 0678
 borage. this is my first time planting this flower/herb. i read that it is an excellent companion plant for tomatoes. it helps to ward off the horn worm. it brings in beneficial pollinators to the plant in hopes the pollinators will also visit the tomatoes. This was planted from seed.

IMG 0679
 amish paste

IMG 0680
 black from tula

IMG 0683

 zinna getting ready to bloom

IMG 0696

IMG 0697
 huge sunflower with a marigold wrapped around it

IMG 0699
 finally getting some peas

IMG 0700

IMG 0703

IMG 0705

IMG 0714

IMG 0715
 cucumber with baby cucumbers

IMG 0723

IMG 0718

IMG 0719
 this little tomato plant in the foreground was one of the ones i started from seed in the milk-jug greenhouse

IMG 0722
Cherokee purple tomato plant


another view

sunflowers are huge!

Hope y'all enjoyed the tour.....i will also post this week about the vegetables we've harvested and a little something about bugs
window.setTimeout(function() { document.body.className = document.body.className.replace('loading', ''); }, 10);