Tuesday, May 29, 2012

How my Garden Grows - You've got to be kidding me!

Four days ago on a lovely . . . if not hot . . . Saturday morning, I planted beautiful, healthy cucumber plants.  I've watered and weeded around them every day.  They've looked nice and happy in their new homes since I put them in the ground . . . 

until this morning.  This morning at 0
'dark:30 I went to the garden to do my daily maintenance . . . pulling weeds, watering, checking the plants.  I was in for a bit of a surprise . . . a nasty one.  

My cucumber plants, which up until yesterday were unmolested and thriving, looked sad and wilted and chewed up!

You have got  to be kidding me!  

Upon closer inspection, the culprit was looking me square in the face . . . literally.   Squash and cucumber beetles.

This is the first time they've invaded my garden but this is the first time they showed up so quickly and devastatingly. (see related posts here, here and here.)

I haven't seen any larva . . . which are revolting!  So, I'm guessing they made their way into my plot by wing.

In their adult form they look colorful and friendly . . . in some forms they actually look very similar to our beneficial friend the ladybug!  Don't be fooled!  The bugs will destroy your cucumber and squash plants in very little time . . . as evidenced in my garden over the past day.

There are plenty of pesticides . . . like Sevin . . . that are extremely effective in eradicating this disgusting pests.  However, I am faced with the challenge of being in an organic community garden that restricts using chemical solutions.

A satisfying but impermanent method is squishing any bugs, larva and eggs you see on the plant.  Obviously, this will not deter them or prevent them from coming back.

Companion planting helps as well, but it is not immediate nor is it full proof . . . cucumber beetles and squash bugs don't like garlic, chives, mint nasturtiums, marigolds and radishes.  I would strongly caution about planting, mint in your garden as it is as invasive as any weed and is nearly impossible to get rid of.

Some natural solutions are Neem Oil Soap and Hot Pepper & Garlic Solutions and Orange Oil Solution. 

The one I've used in the past with moderate success is a homemade Orange Oil Pesticide:

1 Gallon of Water
2 oz. of Orange Oil
2 Bulbs of Garlic
2 Cayenne Peppers

If you want the satisfaction of making your own orange oil, it is really quite easy . . . please see my blog post on this subject. 

Place the garlic bulbs and cayenne peppers in a blender and liquefy.

Mix the garlic/pepper liquid with one gallon of water.

Add your orange oil to the water and mix all of the ingredients together. This makes a concentrated natural pesticide.

Place three tablespoons of the concentrate in an empty spray bottle. Fill the spray bottle with water. Use on your plants.

Wish me luck!

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