Tomato Worms, Assassin Bugs, and getting ready for fall planting.

I went out into my garden today and saw my poor tomato plants looked like skeletons. I searched and found at least 10 tomato horn worms, 3 of which were huge. I had a very good time popping them with my foot, the bastiges. But my poor tomato plants. :< Then there was this huge writing spider on top of the plant and she wasn’t doing a darned thing about it. Gee, you give a gal a good home and she lets you down! Hopefully that spider is getting other things while she’s up there. At least her web was beautiful. I also found about 4 or 5 black with speckles 1 1/4 inch long fat worms also eating my plants. They got an early retirement as well. But now all I have are a bunch of holed green tomatoes. They came on so fast, in one day! You having that happen too?

So, I got busy and cut away all the dead stems so I could see better. And today I added some fermented organic matter around the base of the plants so they could continue growing. But I also got a bunch of assassin bugs which I’m about to handle. I think they are assassin bugs – they are like squash beetles only they fly. I have a butterfly net which I am going to use to try to catch them. They fly away so fast it’s hard to get them by hand. I’ll see how that works and if it’s a success, I’ll share it with you. I also picked off several very fat tomato worms as well.

It finally cooled off a bit here. We had many days of thunder storms and rain, and it got so much nicer. We’re down into the mid 80’s today instead of that horrible 90 degree heat and high humidity.

I use Farmer’s Almanac moon phase planting site to determine if I can plant well on a certain day. So, last week during a good period I planted loads of greens, cabbage family seeds. Today they are poking up out of the soil. Not all, some are longer germination, but here’s the site to check moon phase: http://farmersalmanac.com/calendar/gardening/  Farmers Almanac planting by moon dates calendar. Start now to get your cool weather seeds started.

I also went to our local Grower’s Outlet in Loganville, Ga., and picked out 4 perennial herbs to plant. Start getting ready to put in your perennials and fruit trees which are best planted in the fall. Many of the nurseries online have sales this time of year.

My helper and I cleared away a huge bunch of seed starting seeds yesterday as well, pulled up bags of mulch which got distributed in beds, put everything in order, hosed off the deck, and in general made some very orderly space. While we were there, we found two long flat head worms. They got their early retirement too, but I hate when I find them because it means there are probably more of them. Flat head worms are a recent invasion. They are parasitic and kill off our good worms. If you find one, it’s not round like a garden worm. They are long (maybe as long as 6″), very flat all along their bodies, and their heads have a little arrowhead shape. Don’t throw them out. Grind them into slime or they reconstitute. Just sayin.

A nice lady from our Homestead Gathering was giving away a bunch of screens as her husband does home renovation. She offered them to our group, so I went Sunday and picked up a bunch of them. They are useful for so many things. You can prop them up on cinder blocks or bricks in the shade where there’s a little air circulation and dehydrate herbs and flowers. I think I will teepee them over newly planted seedlings to keep the deer off – using cable ties to hold them together. The deer have been very happy eating my seedlings this summer, so I have a new solution I’m trying. Also, some of the screens were double threaded and actually have some shade cloth ability so they are going to go over plants in extreme heat next summer or to keep winter crops going longer as the heat increases in late spring. Can you think of something else we could do with them? I’d love to hear your creative ideas.

Hope you are getting your fall garden ready.

Enjoying the cooler weather,

Best, Diann Dirks, The Garden Lady of Ga.

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Setting Up For Your Fall Garden

Now is the time to gather your cool weather fall/winter seeds and start planning your cool weather garden. Mid August is the time to start them in seed cells or little newspaper pots you make by rolling newspaper around the bottom of a wine or beer bottle, pinching the bottom together, and fill with seed starting soil (1/3 perlite or vermiculite, 1/3 peat moss, 1/3 compost).

Put them in a sunny window or in a cool porch area and keep them damp. By the time they are big enough to put in the ground, it will be time to set them in your beds. Cool weather plants include the (brassicus) cabbage family, spinach, lettuces, Swiss chard, beets, carrots, pansies, etc.

Grow year round. Winter, I grow under plastic. Home Depot sells rolls of white 3.5 mil plastic which can be cut to size. I lay my tomato cages on their sides alternating direction on the bed, and lay the plastic over that to keep it from squishing the plants.

Then I weigh the edge of the plastic sheets with cinder blocks or big rocks. It also helps in windy areas to have something to lay over the top of the plastic to keep it from being a sail. Whatever you have on hand.

Also, now start your perennials which you want to plant in the fall, or look in catalogs for the trees, bushes, and perennial herbs and things you want to plant in then. Fall is one of the best times (along with spring) to plant your orchards or just a tree in the yard.

As your annual food plants die off in the heat or as the season progresses, make sure to add layers of mulch to your beds if you are no-till like we are here. I like to gather organic matter and layer it 3 layers deep (of different things like grass clippings, crushed granite for minerals, alfalfa pellets for nitrogen, used coffee grounds for the worms, or the last of the chipped autumn leaves from last year) for a good 4 inches in existing beds each season. It will decompose and feed the worms, as well as insulate the garden over the winter.

As we start getting leaves falling, gather them, run them through a chipper if you have them to make them lighter and finer texture, or run your mower over them and catch it in a mower bag. Or put the leaves in a garbage can and stick your weed eater string trimmer down in there to break up the leaves. Use these leaves to layer mulch your beds, or store them in large contractor bags (not light garbage bags which break up) which can be reused 10 to 20 times. These are available in boxes at Home Depot.

In bags, leaves are great insulators for delicate perennials, laying them around the plant. I use mine to surround my un-planted nursery of trees and bushes, then cover it all with plastic to weather the winter. In the spring I use the crushed leaves to mulch newly planted spring plants, or to build new soil for new beds using ‘sheet mulching’ techniques (aka lasagna gardening).

Choose plant varieties that do well in your growing zone. If you don’t know what that is go to see the map at: http://planthardiness.ars.usda.gov/PHZMWeb/. The hardiness zones for each seed packet can be found on the back of the packet. It also helps to find out from neighbors or the local Extension Office which varieties do best in your area. I plant only heirloom, heritage or open pollinated varieties, skipping anything that is ‘hybrid’ because they don’t breed true and the seeds are useless to save. But I experiment with varieties people give me or from seed swaps so I am always expanding the bio-diversity in my garden, and increase my seed varieties.

I want sustainability in the kinds of things I use in my precious garden space. They need to go into the future. We are loosing our bio-diversity of foods just because they are being neglected by big farming operations or dropped by the seed companies as not profitable.

That means it’s up to us to keep those landrace varieties going. A landrace is a domesticated, regional ecotype;[1][2] a locally adapted,[3] traditional variety[4] of a domesticated species of animal or plant that has developed over time, through adaptation to its natural and cultural environment of agriculture and pastoralism, and due to isolation from other populations of the species.[3] Landraces are generally distinguished from cultivars, and from breeds in the standardized sense, although the term landrace breed is sometimes used synonymously instead, as distinguished from the term standardized breed[5] in contexts in which the word breed is used expansively.[5] The -race in this word refers to the taxonomic definition of race in biology, not the ethnographic sense of the word. Wikipedia

Look out into your garden. Make detailed journal notes for yourselves to record what you grew in which bed this summer so you can keep track of the soil needs and rotation of your crops. Then decide how much of this growing area you want to plant in fall and/or winter crops, and what you want to lay fallow (unused), or cover with a cover crop like rye or clover (which gets turned over in the spring, adding organic matter to the soil), so you know how much space you have for your next season. That way you know how many of which kinds of seeds to start now.

If you have trouble deciding how much space you need for each thing, get a copy of the book “Square Foot Gardening” which has lovely tables of plants and how much space they need.

I usually inter-plant many varieties of plants in the same space rather than do clumps of one kind of thing. I use the idea of ‘companion plants’ (google it, it’s a fascinating subject) so that the plants help each other growing next to each other. In Permaculture Design this is called a “Guild” because the plants form a kind of family that works together.

I intensively plant and make sure the soil is rich, so I get the most yield out of a given space. I don’t leave spots or areas un-planted for long. If I pull something out, I fill that space asap. This is called succession planting. I add in a handful of nutritious amends like coffee grounds and alfalfa pellets mixed into the soil, then plunk in the new plant or seed.

I am available for consultation either by phone or email no matter where in the country you live. Contact me by email if you want my help at didirks@comcast.net. I am familiar with many areas of the country for growing one’s own food. And I’m a Certified Permaculture Designer who loves to help people get started, increase their yield in existing spaces, or help with projects big or small.

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Bees in the Garden

For the past several years the honey bee visitation in our garden here in Auburn has been very sad. Only saw a few now and then, seeing a cross section of the wild bee population coming to visit.

But this year, I’m very hopeful because I’m seeing loads of honey bees, and little and big bumble bees, an assortment of sizes of wild bees and in good numbers.

We’ve had a lot of rain this spring and early summer so the flowers in the garden have been abundant. And I’ve let all my herbs to go to flower so we’ve had catnip, thyme, peppermint, lavender, yarrow, bee balm, echinacea, butterfly bush, kale, and others in great bloom – which have fed the flying beauties very well.

We also had a lot of early blossoms on the fruit trees which gave the newly emerging baby bees something to eat right away. My peach tree was abuzz with bees as soon as it warmed up enough for them to fly. I am tempted sometimes to take branches of flowering fruit trees inside for bouquets on the trees that don’t really produce much fruit but this year I didn’t do this because of the bees, letting them eat. I drew joy from just standing under the trees and listening to their happy humming.

Just as a reminder, for the sake of our dwindling bee population, grow some flowers or herbs which are known to flower, and don’t mow them or cut them all. I leave half of the flowers on these plants above instead of harvesting everything. Then I leave the harvested branches out on my front porch out of the sun and let the bees continue to eat.

I had a great bin of flowering catnip on the porch which had been harvested, but the blooms still fresh for 4 days. They were visited constantly by bees. Once the herbs dried out enough, that the bees weren’t interested anymore, then could I set them out on screen panels to dry.

As a note about bees, a lot of my friends have back yard or farm bee hives which they care for and provide the right bee haven for. In these hives there have been almost no deaths of hives. Where we are seeing the destruction of hives is with the big commercial bee keepers who drive big semis around to the orchards and farms which need commercial sized bee populations to pollinate them. Into this population of bees there have been great influxes of various contaminants such as pesticide, herbicide and a whole host of other ‘icides which all kill something and as it turns out, bees.

Small bee keeping hives almost never are hit with the hive death. All the more reason to consider bee keeping yourself. I would love to do this but I don’t have a good place for the hives. It’s so steep here on Hillside Gardens, I’d have to put them in a place I couldn’t actually get to, and they do need care. But someone in the area is keeping European Honey Bees because they find my garden.

Bees fly up to 5 miles to collect from flowers. They will go to a specific area as a group when their scouts find hopeful areas of flowers and they just harvest that spot that day. So, I try to keep my flowering plants of a specific kind in a relatively small area so they will come and pollinate all of the squash or beans or herbs or whatever and make it worth their while. If you move the flowers between when the scout goes and the rest of them show up, it confuses them – like if you pick something and keep it out for them but move it several feet away. They will find it, but their tracking and information of where food is is so accurate that they hone in exactly on where the scout tells them the goodies are.

For pity sake, don’t use Sevin or other insecticides on any flowering plants – PLEASE! The bees don’t know they are taking back poison to their hives and this is one way to kill an entire hive. Better yet, don’t use any insecticides at ALL – hand pick your bugs. Squash bugs are particularly prevalent this year – so look for the little bronze eggs in rows on your plant leaves – on top or underneath – and pick them off before they get big enough to eat your plants. Look for the little white babies too, and squish them before they ruin your plants. That way you can save the bees from the chemicals.

For every 5 bites of food you eat, 3 of them were pollinated and provided by bees. It isn’t just a pretty idea, it can mean life or death if we loose our bees. As it is, Japan has lost most of their bee population. As a result they have to hand pollinate all their fruit in entire orchards then cover the buds up with little bags to protect them. So fruit in Japan is hugely expensive! We need to protect our little flying ladies for everyone.

Good Gardening.

Posted in Bee haven gardens, Bees, bug repelling in garden', Flowering herbs, Flowering plants', Food protection, Gardening, Herb gardening, organic gardening, Permaculture, pest management, Self-Sustainability | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Using the weeds around us – food and medicine.

For about 5 years I have been studying and researching almost every plant that grows wild in my area. It all started when I attended an herb walk with Patricia Kyrsti Howell, a very well known local herbalist in the SE, up in the Appalachian mountains in NE Georgia. I have a large garden in the foot hills of the Blue Ridge so I wondered what grew further into the mountains. She took about 25 of us around the wooded area of a friend who invited us all to learn.

I was shocked because she was pointing out the plants that were medicinal and all the things that can be done with them, in just a small area. There were over 40 of them. But the real shocker was how many of them I had been pulling up in my gardening thinking they were WEEDS! Astounded me completely! I bought her book “Medicinal Herbs of the Appalachian Mountains” and have that as the anchor in a library I’ve been building on this theme.

It turns out that the Cherokee People had a pharmacopia (list of medicinal plants) listing over 1500 plants of the Appalachian Mountains and foothills. Which means that of all the plants in our area, very few don’t have medicinal value of some kind. A larger list (many the same plants) are edible for wild crafting, and in fact the wild crafted foods have a higher nutritional value than the crops I had been planting in my garden. The difference being that coming from the European heritage of my family, they were unfamiliar to me and are not as abundant as say a row in a garden. And they don’t have the familiar tastes. So, to use them it’s a whole cooking and food preparation skill which needs to be learned. But they can be incorporated in with the familiar foods quite nicely. You have to look around and find the wild plants, and be responsible in not over-harvesting.

So, I thought I’d share a link someone sent me for native medicinal herbs which are quite common from Canada down into the South of the U.S. which can be found almost anywhere. http://www.ediblewildfood.com/edible-weeds.aspx This link has good pictures and a gallery of the flowers, stems, leaves and other characteristics so they can be identified. Of course not all of these will be found anywhere, and if you live in the city, probably few of them. But if you venture out into the less populated areas, say in a fallow farm field, or along a roadside, you can find them.

What I have done with this study is not just pull up every thing that is unfamiliar (as in thinking they are weeds) in my garden and let it go to flower (easier to identify), keeping maybe one or two of something volunteering. I have had lots of great surprises. Some have been invasive and I’ve learned from that. But many were good finds. Also, as I have learned what to look for from study, I have found various plants along the road sides which I then bring back and purposefully plant in my garden, and give it a season before harvesting. I tend not to want to use a plant that could be contaminated from being too close to a road, but after a season, any toxins would have gone and I can then use them.

Some of my happy finds have been wild strawberries, which thrive in the partially shaded section of my food forest, plantain – narrow and broad leaf, lamb’s quarters, and broad leaf and yellow dock, to name a few.

Many of the older herbal books from libraries of friends and herb wild-crafters going way back in this area contain references to herbs with loads of different names depending on the area and peoples using them. So, I have learned to look for the Latin botanical names when researching them. But once I know exactly what I’m looking at, I can use them with confidence. Now I purposefully look for the odd ones which tend to be rarer and trade with friends or get seeds in seed swaps.

The bottom line on this is that if we ever are caught in the situation where normal channels of providence for food and medicine are cut off or fail, I know that at least I won’t starve and myself and my husband will survive it. I know I will be able to handle most health issues and be able to help others. I have tested this already and unless it’s a major issue like a broken bone, or the plague (even that can be handled but the herbs would have to be on-hand and already processed for quick action), at least there is some hope of being able to come out of an illness or injury. I think I could set a bone on someone else, but forget doing it on yourself! Recent experience has taught me that one. We will need to rely on a community of others if we would wish to flourish in the face of hard times.

Do your own research and open your eyes to what is around you. I think you will find how amazing nature is in your area, no matter where you live. In the tradition of the Wise Women (natural healers who are a growing group of very knowledgeable people in our area of the SE), for any health condition we find ourselves in, most likely within a very short distance from where we live we will find the herbal solution to it. But that requires being knowledgeable. If you have an interest in that area of exploration, the internet is rich with people who connect up on a regular basis, or classes, or wonderful knowledge sites.

Please forgive the lack of pictures in my last few posts. My camera gave out and I have had so little time to choose a replacement, I’m hoping you can appreciate the information and get pictures if you need them as in the above article, from other sources on the internet. Visit me on facebook – Georgia Gardenlady.

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June in the garden.

Here it is almost the end of June and I’m not even thinking it’s summer with summer solstice yesterday slipping by like a whisper. But the days are so long I should have known.

We have 6 interns now and they are a joy to have here, learning, working, laughing. The internship program I set up many years ago has turned out to be a huge success. So far 5 of my interns have farms now, and they have gone on to other accomplishments, which I consider part of mine as well hopefully having brought on some inspiration.

We have expanded the food forest this spring with two added beds, 10 new trees, and the rest of the east side of the hill all card-boarded and covered with wood chips. This makes my husband happy because he hates to mow the lawn on our steep hill. I have been teaching my interns how to sheet mulch to make soil, and working on awareness because a great deal of gardening is awareness. Looking for the health or problems with plants, checking for bugs and disease, remembering to keep the soil covered with mulch or plants, watering and knowing when to, looking to harvest or wait, and just picking up on the feeling of the space. I can walk by a plant and know it’s distressed or humming with health. That comes with experience.

The pear tree is loaded with fruit this year again for the second year. Before that we only had a few coming in. But last year it was a bonanza. The apple tree has a growing number of fruit but the peach tree has zero fruit having lost its baby fruit in the unexpected freeze we had this spring. However the blueberries are going great guns and we’ve been taking a quart or two every other day or so. Blackberries are likewise producing but not as strongly (they’re wild and I don’t regularly water them or pay them much attention.)

We have had a few tomatoes but we got the plants in late this spring so it takes them awhile. But we have lots of green ones waiting in the wings. The herbs are doing very well and I have had to resort to using the front porch to dry them when my dehydrator runs out of space. I have panels of metal edged, metal fabric screens which make nice drying spaces. Once the major part of the moisture leaves, they are diminished in size and I can fit the remainder into the dehydrator. I had so many ground ivy I had to fill 3 of these large panels. And the big plants of catnip had to be put into a large tree type planter until I have drying space. However, they were all flowering so I had bees coming into harvest the nectar for 3 days after picking which is why they were on the porch and not in the garage. I try to help my bees.

We have been getting zucchini, yellow squash, a few cucumbers but more are on the way, lots of various medicinal flowers which we harvest and dehydrate, but not too many at a time so the bees continue to have their food. I’ve been making tinctures and saving up various herbs to make salves and ointments later when I have time.

The seeds from the winter greens such as kale, Swiss chard, spinach etc are now getting to the right stage to gather and label and process them for seed saving. When I have too many seeds for planting, for these crops, I save them for sprouting in the winter for fresh salad making. We need our Vitamin K1 for health and in the winter, what comes in the grocery store has been sitting in storage for too long for my sense of well being. So, fresh sprouts are a wonder and delicious.

There is a rhythm to a garden which one works with. Right now it’s a matter of keeping the beds watered and weeded (but I mulch heavily so we have few weeds), watching for bugs and picking out of the leaves the little bronze squash beetle eggs or catching and hand squishing the adults (I am no longer squeemish about this, the little bastiges who eat my plants). I look for mature squash and other vegetables, and pull the carrots and beets as they get big enough from fall planting. I also have to make sure I don’t waste open space as garden bed space is precious. I practice sequential planting of new stuff.

The back kitchen deck is my propagation center and there I have lots of babies waiting in the wings to put out when a space opens. I wish I had enough flat space of easy access to put in a green house, but alas, we are Hillside Gardens, emphasis on HILLside. Not flat, not even close.

My corn is getting about knee high now planted among the pumpkins, squash and gourds for a 3 sister guild (guild is a companion grouping of plants that aid each other), and it’s about time to plant the pole beans among the corn for it to supply a support. The 4th sister which people rarely know about is the sunflower which should be grown around the edge of a 3 sister bed, and mine are growing nicely.

We have accumulated a lot of tree prunings, and other organic matter which needs to be put thru the chipper and used later as mulch or soil building so that is another chore to get done soon. My husband’s friend and he bought a lovely Troybuilt big chipper together a couple of years ago which is kept here, and we use it often. It makes a lot of piles disappear pretty quickly all nicely munched up.

We’ve had rain and it comes in unexpectedly even when the weatherman says it is supposed to be sunny and clear for which I am grateful. Saves using city water on my beds and the plants like it so much better, especially when it has been thunder storming – which elevates the nitrogen in the rain water leaving green lawns and happy garden plants.

Hope you are gardening and have the bounty of the earth to make you smile.

Diann

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Gardening in the heat of summer – tips for avoiding heat prostration or worse.

The weather here is getting hotter.
Some of you may be new to the area and not used to our weather in the South East (I’m in Georgia) so here are some tips for keeping safe and healthy in the heat.

1. When outside in the garden wear a wide brimmed hat – not just a baseball cap but a real all the way around rim hat. This keeps your face in the shade but you still get sunlight for D3 production. It also protects the back of your neck and shoulders. I also sometimes wear a bandana around the forehead and around to the back of the neck to keep perspiration contained and out of my eyes. A cowboy hat doesn’t have a wide enough brim. Look for a real straw garden hat. My favorite one is many years old, with some strategic patching with canvas strips and a chin strap.

2. Keep water nearby and stay hydrated. Do not drink tap water. Make sure it is either well water, spring water or well filtered water. Best if it’s in a metal water bottle as sunlight in plastic water bottles breaks down some of the plastic nasty chemicals and they go into the water. If you need a good water filter, contact me for the best water filter I have found which even removes radiation.

3. Unless you are on heart or blood pressure medication, make sure you are getting enough salt. You sweat, you blow the salt out without even noticing it. I like to suck on Himalayan pink salt little crystals. Also find Potassium Gluconate in the stores (drug, grocery) and take it a few times during a heavy hot day when sweating. Another very excellent electrolyte substance is “Bio-Salt” aka “Cell Salts” which melt under the tongue. I go online and get mine from “Standard Vitamins” (standardvitamins.com). These are highly absorb-able minerals in a homeopathic matrix which go right in to the body.

4. Wet a small towel and throw it around your neck, re-wetting it when it gets hot or dries out. The back of the neck is the best place to cool off your body (data I got from someone who worked in Saudi Arabia where it really gets hot), much better than the wrists. I make a little cooling neck bandana with water absorbing gel crystals inside the roll of fabric that I soak in water, which releases moisture for a longer time than just a wet towel. Contact me if you would like one. I sell them for $15 +s&h, available in many colors. They last for years. Stipulate color and if you would like a pattern or plain fabric – all 100% cotton.

5. Drink grapefruit juice as the best beverage for avoiding heat exhaustion.

6. If you start to feel faint, dizzy, nauseated even a little, or weak, that’s the start of heat exhaustion and if you let it go too long can lead to heat prostration or even worse, heat stroke. Very bad news. Come in, cool off, put your feet up, drink something and rest without delay! Get electrolytes. As a note, if you really start to feel sick – don’t assume it’s an onset of the flu or something. This is the big red flag of danger for heat stroke. Call 911. You don’t want to be out in the garden, having passed out, with nobody knowing you’re out there. Best to prevent it and heed your body’s warning signals.

7. Rest and cool off when you start feeling too hot. Get in the shade, or come inside. Another neat trick is to have a spray bottle with water and lemon juice or lemon or other cooling essential oils (couple of drops) then spray your face, arms and legs. Or put some vodka in it which cools off even faster. I buy it by the quart for tinctures and get the cheapest they have at the bottle store.

8. Here’s one of my favorite tricks. I wear a longish cotton dress in real heat and just run the hose on me, wetting the entire dress. I keep it wet. It’s like running thru a sprinkler when you’re a kid – keeps you 10 degrees cooler. I find the cotton dresses in a thrift store and throw them out after they start looking really tacky. Just forget the fashion police, this is about comfort! Only use 100% cotton fabric which doesn’t out-gas or hold heat in. (Linen works also, as long as it’s a light grade of fabric.)

9. Make your own bug spray if lots of mosquitoes are out or for tick infested areas. There are many recipes online so do your own research to find one that suits you. http://nourishingjoy.com/homemade-bug-spray-and-mosquito-repellents/?utm_source=Yahoo&utm_medium=artcl&utm_campaign=exploitvodka  I keep mine in a 3″ long fairly fat spray bottle outside in the shade to re-apply when I’m staying wet.

Stay cool, enjoy the summer, and happy gardening!

Diann Dirks, Auburn, Ga.

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June Pests – Squash Bug aka ‘stink bug’ alert

This is a good time to check for ‘stink bug’ squash beetles and cucumber beetles on your curcurbin plants (all the pumpkin, squash, cucumber, melon and gourd family). Look on the leaves for bronze colored tiny rows of little round eggs, and their parents. I notice that when I water these plants, in a couple of minutes the stink bugs come up to the top of the plant. I then use a saved cottage cheese container and use the lid to flip the bug in there (or you can grab them and squish them outright). Once they are captured, I put the lid on tightly and leave it in the sun. This is for those of us who hate smelling like stink bug from squishing them by hand. I keep a couple of these containers setting around the garden near these plants for easy access. To remove the eggs, you can either pick them off into the container with your finger, or pinch the whole egg area of the leaf and carefully just remove that part of the leaf. It will heal over. But don’t let them go to another day. Look on top and under all your leaves for each plant. They often will sit on nearby plants so anywhere you see them, act quickly. Getting them at this time of year keeps them from taking over.

There is another version of the stink bug which looks ‘leggy’ and not compact, has wings, and likes to congregate on tomatoes and squash. I couldn’t find a picture, but they stink the same way as the squash beetle when squished. They are best caught with a butterfly net.

http://www.almanac.com/content/squash-bug

Baby squash bugs the size of rice grains just after the eggs hatch. http://www.weekendgardener.net/garden-pests/squashbug-020902.htm

This is a predatory good stink bug. “What makes them good: These bugs prey on garden pests such as grubs, gypsy moth caterpillars, the larvae of beetles such as the Colorado potato beetle and the Mexican bean beetle, hornworms, imported cabbage looper, imported cabbage worm (also known as “broccoli worms”), webworms and armyworms. They kill their victims by harpooning them, injecting a paralyzing substance into them and sucking out bodily fluids through the harpoon.” Read more: http://www.mnn.com/your-home/organic-farming-gardening/stories/good-bug-bad-bug-how-can-you-tell-the-difference#ixzz3c0DwRPF2   – For a more detailed description so you don’t make the mistake of killing the good ones.

Look for cucumber beetles and hand squash them now before they get over- enthusiastic in reproducing. It helps to have a butterfly net in the garden this time of year because these critters like to fly up quicker than you can get your hand on them. There are flying squash beetles that look the same as the stink bug except they have longer legs and wings. They will hide in tomato plants and nearby other vegetable plants so keep an eye out for these kinds of bugs. They will eat your hard won vegetables.

http://www.almanac.com/content/cucumber-beetles

For a more comprehensive list of good and bad bugs in the garden check out this website: http://www.mnn.com/your-home/organic-farming-gardening/stories/good-bug-bad-bug-how-can-you-tell-the-difference

Bugs this time of year, especially with all the rain we’ve been having, and a rather mild winter here in Georgia, you have to be especially vigilant. I walk my garden every day or send out my interns to look under leaves, watch for damaged or dying leaves (indicators of bugs at work), and hand squish or capture them while the season is young. If you get all or most of them now, you increase your ability to keep up with it thru the summer increases and lessen the amount of work to control them as well as cutting out losses due to their hungry little beasty selves.

Hope this helps. Diann

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