Showing posts from June, 2016

Make the Garden Great Again

Insects aren't   our only problem  this season: we’ve also got some border enforcement issues: All of our butternut squash (above) has been nibbled on, as have our pumpkins and black beans (below): While these aren’t completely destroyed, the same can’t be said for our green beans: Also coming under heavy fire: sweet potatoes, cucumbers, Brussels sprouts, and lettuces — all of which are in the quadrants farthest from the house. We’ve seen a groundhog around as well as a skunk, and both are good suspects. The damage is all pretty dainty, though, and some of it was done by scurrying under a very small gap beneath the temporary (and ineffective) chicken daycare cage . We’re thinking rabbits running bold, thanks to a barn cat who is rather timid about hanging out in plain sight in the yard during the day (though he has left plenty of evidence of mice and bird kills — and is coming a little closer to us every day, so we remain hopeful). Anyway, it’s time to

New Garden Pest: Beet Leafminers

This spring has brought us a few new insect problems. In addition to the usual cutworm issues  in beds where things were wintered over and very minor winter moth problems , we’ve got some new bugs as well. The potato beetles have pretty well ruined one potato bed and ignored another — in the latter, the ladybugs seem to be prevailing .  Our other insect infestation this spring is affecting our beets: This is one example of a scorched-looking leaf. We’ve seen these in our beets, spinach, and Swiss chard this spring, and at first we assumed that the sun had burned them out on our first hot day a few weeks ago, since the issues seemed to coincide. But there were also other leafy greens in the same bed that were unaffected, and once we realized that the problem was only with plants in the same family, we figured it was either a disease or an insect issue. A closer look makes it fairly obvious that bugs are the problem:   I’m not sure what gardeners did before Googl

Strawberry Season Is in Full Swing!

The thing about gardening is that you never know what to expect from one year to the next. It’s just about impossible to have every crop do well at the same time, but the flip side is that, no matter how bad some things look, something is bound to go like gangbusters. It balances out. This year, though we’ve been struggling with our tomatoes and potatoes , the strawberries are looking better than they ever have before: A quick correction: the established  strawberries are looking better than ever. Those are the lush plants in the distance. The foreground is full of our newest strawberry plants, which haven’t taken off quite like we wished — at least not yet. Anyway, the plantings from the three previous years are doing amazingly well this season and promise to bear big crops: That’s a lot of strawberries just waiting to ripen. Since taking that photo we have put up our chicken wire fencing and covered the top with bird netting to protect the fruit. That does

Battle Royale: Potato Beetles vs. Lady Bugs

Something’s eating our potato plants: At first Kirk assumed it was cutworms because the stems looked sheared off, but we also have a whole bunch of these guys: That’s a pair of Colorado potato beetles , working pretty frantically to make lots more little potato beetles.  These bugs are notoriously destructive, and we’re losing potato plants by the day: I’m not sure if they’ll sprout again or not, but even if they do, I doubt we’ll have much of a yield by fall, especially given our short growing season. These are our red and white potatoes, but our blue ones are in a different bed — one that so far seems to be in the clear. This weekend we’ll add some row covers to the blue potato bed to try to keep it that way. We suspect that these potato beetles rode in on a load of compost from the city yard. This is ordinarily an excellent resource, but we’ve never had a problem before, and we were fine right up until adding city compost to hill up these plants.