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


  1. The eggs & larvae would make me crazy... But everything looks awesome otherwise...time for some cantalope...

  2. Yeah I found eggs on the cucumbers :-( smooshed them.


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