Beetle Juice!

Now that things are in full swing down at the garden, flowering plants, thriving lettuce, forests of tomato plants, the pests are moving in. Our biggest challenge over the past couple weeks have been cucumber beetles! Initially they attacked our zucchini then gradually discovered the squash, cucumbers and pumpkins. So each day we spend a good chunk of time hand picking and squishing the beetles. Handpicking is recommended as the most effective organic method for controlling these pests. They like to cluster in shaded places so they can usually be found on the underside of leaves or nestled in at the base or stem of the plant. This is also where they like to lay their eggs. We have placed tin foil at the base of each plant which reflects the sun up on to the plant so there is less shade for them to dwell in. Each morning we inspect the underside and ground around each plant and squish as many as we can grab. One of our reference books, The Vegetable Gardener's Bible, suggests heavy handpicking early in the growing season because they can produce up to three generations of beetles in one summer!

So, far we seem to have the situation under control. We used one application of garden dust, which is another organic method of insect control, on all of the plants and this definitely slowed them down substantially. Aside from cucumber beetles, we also have our usual colony of snails and slugs living at the garden and munching all the plants. Beer has been our weapon against these pests and we leave small dishes in areas where the snails and slugs seem to gather. Our latest pest discovery is broccoli worms. Since we did not previously grow broccoli this will be a new opportunity for experimenting with organic remedies. We are considering using a garlic/cayenne spray or a neem oil spray, any suggestions?

One thing all the pests in the garden indicates is that we sure do have a lot of food for them to munch on! Everything is growing healthy and strong and in the next couple of weeks we will be taking the vegetables away from the bugs and bringing them up on to campus to share at our farmstands!
Stay cool,


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