Pest report

All we’re harvesting this time of year is bugs. Well, that’s not entirely true. We have picked kale and cucumbers and dug a few potatoes just to make sure that they are there. But the majority of what we’re doing is dealing with pests.

Eric Sideman writes a periodic pest report for MOFGA. We get a lot of good information from him. Here’s our pest report, or here’s what we’ve been able to identify so far…

We first started seeing Colorado potato beetles two to three weeks ago. I’ve always hated potato beetles, especially the juveniles. They’re so slimy and gross. Instead of squishing them, this year we’ve gotten great satisfaction out of feeding them to the chickens. At first the chickens didn’t really know what to do with them. We think they were thrown off by food that moves. Soon they started gobbling the bugs down.

We’ve been picking the potato beetles regularly (two or three times a week). We still find some every time, but we see very few adults. They are doing damage to the potato plants, but we’re optimistic that we’re staying on top of them.

Potatoes probably killed by leaf hoppers

Even with the beetles, the potatoes were doing great until the leaf hoppers moved in. These small, green bugs suck the juice out of plants and inject a toxin that clogs the food conducting tissue. Eric Sideman describes them as “catastrophic.” We’ve been spraying them with an organic insecticidal soap, but some of our potatoes and beans are not going to make it.

Around two weeks ago we first noticed the cabbage caterpillars. These small green caterpillars like to eat brassicas, which include kale, broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage. There are several species, but I haven’t learned the difference between them yet. The caterpillars are the same color as the leaves of the plants, so they’re quite hard to find. So far we’re trying to control them by picking and squishing them.

Fungus on the tomatoes, possibly early blight

Our tomatoes have some sort of fungus on them. One extension agent thinks it’s early blight. We picked off all the yellow and brown leaves, and we got some copper to spray on the plants to protect them from fungus.

On a positive note, here’s what Andy wrote in an email about the garden recently:

Lots of green tomatoes

“I just wanted to give you a garden update since earlier this week I sounded so grim.  The potatoes are still not fairing so well, but from what I’ve read, you can leave them in the ground for a few weeks as long as it’s not too wet. The heat and humidity has broken a bit so that bodes well for the suspected fungus infection that the tomatoes have. Fungus doesn’t like dry breezy weather and that’s what it’s been the last couple of days, and will be most of next week. So there is hope!

Pie pumpkin

Watermelon!

Yesterday I picked 68 cucumbers and Julia has made four gallons of pickles so far. We’ve got several pie pumpkins the size of cantaloupe and several cantaloupes the size of grapefruits and grapefruit the size…no wait, no grapefruit. The corn is growing like crazy and there at least half a dozen tiny baby Hubbard squash. No ripe tomatoes, but lots of green fruit.  Watermelons are growing well, peppers are hanging in there and the edamame are looking great. There’s more, but let’s just say that if we are lucky, most things will do well and we will have a feast to remember in September.”

Some of the onions are doing okay after the addition of wood ash

Corn

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2 responses to “Pest report

  1. Suggested book: “The Organic Gardener’s Handbook of Natural Insect and Disease Control” from Rodale Press.

  2. Dear Andy and Julia,

    Congratulations. What a wonderful idea. Just FYI, I wrote about your wedding plans on my blog, The Last Word on Nothing. See http://www.lastwordonnothing.com/2010/08/04/how-green-is-your-wedding/#more-329

    Hope all goes well on the big day. Josie

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