Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Day of the bugs!

I wish I would have had a camera with me in the garden on Sunday when we were picking!

First, my husband called me over to the eggplants he was picking. There staring up at him was a huge beautiful preying mantis. He looked up at us and twisted his head, his huge eyes were amazing. Later my husband found 2 more, probably they were feasting on the flea beetles which are feasting on our egg plants!

A few minutes later back at the peppers I found a couple perfect lady bug sitting on a pepper. Thankfully, no huge bean beetle problem yet!

Over in the tomatoes my husband was having trouble with fruit flys! The October temperatures were at record highs in the high 80s and the overripe fruit which had fallen to the ground were attracting these little buggers!

And then I found a not nice surprise in the kale. A plant COVERED with caterpillars. I am a bad farmer who is horrible at identifying most bugs, but these were defiantly what you would call an in infestation. I had seen a few cabbage loopers elsewhere on the kale, and that is OK, our members are used to a few holes in leaves, that is the price they pay for chemical free food. But these little worms had totally covered 2 or 3 plants and eaten them to lace (in a row that had been checked just 3 days before.) Think tent worms on kale... I looked them up on line and they kind of looked like Cabbage Webworm, but we are not supposed to get those this far north! In any case, I pulled a half bushel of affected plants to dump deep in the woods. Then every plant within a 30 inch radius got harvested. They looked OK (not bugs evident) so we gave our members some extra kale, and we hope we got them all!

Typically we spray a certified organic pesticide (typically Pyganic) a couple times a year on plants that are receiving heavy damage. This year we got such a late start and being on new land it has not been necessary. And now it is so late, I don't want to do anything like that. On evenings nice enough to spray our honey bees and bumble bees are everywhere, and we don't want to impact them! So fingers crossed!


irishgrl said...

Heather -- You must plant marigolds between your rows of tomatoes next year to discourage those little pests!

Good luck!

csa farmer girl said...

My understanding with marigolds are that you typically plant them with beans to reduce Mexician Bean Beetles. However, they are a host to both spider mites and nemetodes.

Alas if there was a miricle plant! But in the absence of that we will continue our experimentation in interplanting.

We recently learned that we can plant certain mustards as a cover type crop, then plow it under and the next year use that land for root crop and the chemicals in the mustard will kill soil pests that harm root crops!