Gardening Journal: August 2nd, 2011

Battle of the Bug

Caterpillars, Beetles and Bugs....Oh my!

Have I mentioned to you lately how much bugs give me the creepy crawlies?  I accidentally touched that horned tomato worm from last week with my fingers and had to jump up and down yelling gross, gross gross.  LOL.

It is really a challenge to be an Organic Gardener.  I can totally see why Farmers for a profit turn to chemicals.  You plant your garden and nurture your plants with such high hopes only for them to be squashed, by a squash bug no less.  The first year of gardening is blissful and fruits of your labor are abundant.  At least it was in our experience.  This was before the bugs knew you were growing a paradise in their honor.  It is so disheartening to see those dang bugs sucking the life out of your beautiful plants.

Caterpillars are easy, BT works gorgeously and is safe to use. Spray weekly and this should do just fine.  We did not spray BT early on in the season, instead we had row covers.  Those not covered (the squash plants) were invaded by the vine borers.  A timely vacation prevented us from fighting back.  Fine, if at first you don't succeed, try try again.  Right? We planted new squash/zucchini plants.   Time of the year is too hot for the vine borer to be very active so enter stage right......those darn Squash beetles.

Plan of Action:

You really have to inspect your plants.  These crafty little Beetles lay the eggs under the leaves and you never realize you have a problem until it is really out of hand. I should point out that Squash beetle lay reddish brown eggs in groups on the leaves. The vine borer will lay individual eggs of the same color on the stem.   First thing we did was remove the mulch.  The mound of mulch provided a safe place for the adult bugs to hide.

Now that we have squash bugs trying to invade, you can find us every weekend morning and every weekday evening laying beside the raised beds inspecting the plants with a bucket of hot sudsy water. We diligently scrape off any eggs that can be found and squash any beetles that can be caught with pliers....LOL.  Gross I know.  But it is an all out battle.  There really is no great safe preventative chemical product like BT for the Squash Beetle. These beetles can fly so going to the dollar store and getting your kids some nets and allowing them to help catch the flyers is also a fun idea.  Have them plunge what they catch in the sudsy water.  Last night my dear sweet hubby sprinkled Diatomaceous Earth on and around the plants.  The jagged nature of this product is supposed to puncture and injure the bugs.  This morning we found no new eggs or bugs.  YAY!

The adult Squash bug looks like a stink bug only longer.  The adult vine borer looks like a red wasp.  It might scare you, go ahead and catch them with your net anyway.

In summary, next year I think I will try and find a resistant plant to use for our cucumbers and squash plants.

See how beautiful and healthy they look?
Remember how they looked last week?

Even with what we have been going through with the 
squash bug, there are still lots of fruits on the vine.
The white powder is DE.

Sweet Potato Bed seems to be doing Nicely

First Arrow: overgrown Tomato Plants.
Second Arrow: Overgrown Water mellon Plants
Third: Water mellon

Next year I swear, those tomato plants will be no more than 2 per raised bed.  I NEED to be able to get inside the plant to harvest.  At this point, that is not possible.  It is just too dense.

I think the vines will ultimately grow over like this regardless of what you do.  Maybe better spacing next year for this too.

No pictures of the jalapenos but I assure you, they continue to be the mega producers of the year.  We continue to get a GIANT bowl full a week.

I will be linking this post to:
Wordful Wednesday parenting by dummies
Wordless Wednesday @ 5 minutes for mom
Wordless Wednesday @ Proverbs 31 Mommy

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