Sunday, July 05, 2009

War of the Roses

Nature has reclaimed my vegetable plot. The pristine, bug free Eden is giving way to the creepy crawlies of the fallen land. Last week, itt started with a large black spider. I let it hop away, as I peeked around for any green loopers. After I harvested the collard greens & lettuce, the earwig count and caterpillar counts dropped dramatically.

On the same day I found the spider, I found a yet to be identified black and orange beetle. The next day one of my plants - unsure if it is a broccoli or cauliflower - was showing some mites. I washed them off. The next day I found the plant with a mite blanket and realized I had to take action.

Friday I visited the local nursery. The visit had three purposes, to get some organic soapy insecticide, get me some live insecticide in the form of lady bugs and finally, to get some sort of trellis to restrict the growth of my tomatoes. The woman at Pompei Nursery helped me out, going above & beyond to answer my newbie questions. She patiently listened to me discribe the tomato situation and suggested that the plants were probably spending a lot of their energy producing those vines. The arms of the tomato plants were twisting their way through the corn, over-hanging the bell peppers and oppressing my broccoli.

I came home and did a big tomato trim, after having been emboldened by the lady at the nursery. I trimeed down all arms without actual baby tomatoes. I dramatically scaled back the massive mound. Then, using an article my mother clipped for me, I found that my tomatoes are indeterminate - so I should have these for a long time. Marc came out and assisted me with the installation of the trellis bits. We created two wall-like breaks onto which the tomatoes can climb find support. They seemed happy today after we got it all settled.

Back to the bugs - I used the insecticide soap, which smelled so good, I had a hard time knowing when to stop the application. However, the bugs were still there this morning. Saturday AM I had released one of the two containers of ladybugs, yet I put some on the plant with the mites but they didn't seem interested. I did'n'g get the impression that they were ready to much down.

Then this morning, I discover three of those big (say .5 inches by .33 inches) orange & black bugs. Writing about them makes my skin crawl. The ceiling fan gently blows my hair on my neck and I keep thinking that it is the bugs and each sentance I type gets interrupted by a swipe of the hand to my shoulder. Ick.

Marc came out to visit me as I tended the plants and immediated spotted a bug that we later idetified as a stink bug. It pushed me over the edge. We did research on the web and found that many bugs are made scarce by spraying down plants with a mixture of molasses and water. So I grabbed our yet to be used spray pump, filled it up with the mixture and coated my garden and self with the mixture. I'm hoping to check tomorrow that it worked. Either way, I'll be releasing the 2nd round of the ladybugs in the morning. The thought of keeping them for another day in the refridge breaks my heart. Those creatures should be free and out in the world, doing good.

I'm hoping I can find a way to manage the bugs, the blissful plant-it-and-it-will-grow halcyon days at the start of my garden seem to be fading. I am also having problems in the worm farm. I believe I added too much food without providing worm bedding. When putting in the bits from today's cooking, I found that there weren't as may worms as I would have liked. In addition, I found two nearly 1 inch long grubs. Not good. I may need to harvest the compost and get new worms supplies. I'm hoping that I the little guys were just hiding, not missing all together.

Sad day in the garden.

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