Monday, May 28, 2012

My Garden, Part Three: The Bugs

A few friendly bugs- beneficial ladybugs.
   There are many things to take in to consideration when planting a garden. You need to make sure your soil is fertile. You need sun. You need a good water supply. You also need to know a little about the climate where you live, along with information about what you plant, and when to plant, and so on and so on. You would think that once you had all of this figured out, you would be good to go, but no! Once you have a beautiful lush garden growing before you, you will then have to wage war against pests! I grew tomatoes in my garden during year number one, and they were looking quite lovely, until I noticed the alarmingly large florescent horn worm eating through one of them. I was disgusted will the nerve this bug had, how rude to eat through MY tomato!

       I figured this was an easy fix- just fling him off and squish him. Well, first off, he would not leg go! this little bugger was very strong. The second problem was that when I bent down to go about removing this one, I noticed all of his buddies. I was furious! I went and grabbed my gloves and began ripping their fat bodies off my plants, and made a big pile of them. Once I was satisfied that I had them all, I found a big rock, placed it on top of the pile, and stomped. In my murderous rage, I did not stop to think of how this might end, not for them, as I wanted them dead, but for I stomped, their neon green slime splattered everywhere, including all over my clothes, my face, and even in my mouth. YUCK.

         On the second year, I had a new pest to contend with. The Colorado Potato Beetle. What a jerk. One morning when I was out pulling weeds I found some bring orange eggs on the underside of one of my Norland Red Potato leaves. Quick research told me that these belonged to the aforementioned potato beetle. I removed the leaf and smooshed the eggs. I thought I had won that battle. about a week later, the war began when I discovered this beetles larva squirming around and eating my potato plants! My first line of defense was to crawl up and down my rows of potatoes and squish the things, as I strive to keep my garden as close to organic as possible.

     As I crawled up and down the rows, squishing, and swearing, I realized just how personally offended I was by the gaul of these bugs to come and attempt to destroy the plants I had put so much energy into, and that would, as long as I won these battles, feed me in the not so distant future.
      Along with the hand squishing, I mixed up a home made insecticide, which had been sucessful in the past for me in controlling some small pest issues. My recipe includes a little vegetable oil, cayenne pepper, garlic powder and Dr. Bronner's peppermint castile soap all mixed with some water and sprayed onto the affected plants.
       This was not working! I finally had to go to the garden center and ask some advice. I ended up buying a product called Spinosad, which is approved for organic use, and let me tell you what, that did the trick! So long potato beetles!

      Each year I have gone through struggles with my garden, but each one of these struggles has given me a new tool in my gardening tool box. Learning through trial and error has really made the lessons stick.  Over the past 2 weeks, I have been slowly getting this years garden in, and praying that some new pest does not show up at my doorstep!

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