Sunday, August 22, 2010

I don't mind sharing, but...

OK bugs, I really don't mind sharing. It's fine if you want to nibble on a leaf here or there, snack on one of my tomatoes for a bit or suck on a stem. However, there is a line and you've crossed it. I am tired of carrying a bottle of alcohol with me when I go to look at my roses. You nasty little white sucker things that pop up overnight need to just move on. Gosh, I'm not even sure how you get on the plant in the first place. I mean, when I soak you in the alcohol you don't even move... you just die. Bleh. I don't even know what you are.

And you striped beetles that are ruining my cantaloupes... I have fly paper, spray regularly, squish you and cut off the fruit and leaves you ruin. I think I'm fighting a losing battle this year. We'll see. I'm not quite ready to give up.

Whoa, you caterpillars! As if I'm not having enough problems this year you are attacking everything green. I have never had a problem with anything other than the occasional horned green monsters on my tomatoes. This year I have a couple of different kinds. You're a little easier to manage. I can see you and you don't fly.

Not sure what's going on with the drooping leaves on some of the plants. I'm thinking that something is getting into the stems and chewing through... I haven't been able to find the culprit yet, but I will. I'm buying books, going on-line to garden sites and forums, asking questions. I will outwit you.

So, let's see... ah, I know, I forgot the brown spots that I wrote about in an earlier post. Still there. Still ugly. I cut one plant back to the soil almost thinking it had died. A little ray of sunshine there, though as I went out on the porch yesterday and saw new leaves and growth. Yes!

As if all those problems weren't enough to deal with, the guys who do the garden bumped one of my blueberry bushes that was just hanging in there, and now it's gone. Brown, shriveled up and dead. I think they guys accidentally yanked it up with the riding mower or something, then just stuck it back in the ground. Oh well, I still have two, knock on live wood, and I can plant another. Hate it though as this was its second year and I expected blueberries next year. The other two I planted last year gave me a handful of berries... then the birds found the bushes and had a nice little feast. Next year, netting or something.

What else? Tried peas for the first time, something ate them before they grew to an inch high. Next year I start them inside and transplant them when they're bigger.

The squirrels found my grape tomatoes and ate every last one. Which wasn't that big a deal as something else was attacking the bush and killing it.

Did I mention the deer that snacked on my big tomato bush? Pretty. Grrrrr....

I really want to be organic. The first few years of growing went so well... I guess each year I've been rolling the bug dice. This year I crapped out. Next year I plan to win big.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Is it the heat? Combating another problem in the garden...

I'm trying to figure out why I'm having so many problems with pests in my garden this year. I'm wondering if the continual high heat we're experiencing could be a factor.

I know part of my problem is that I didn't rotate my plantings. I planted cucumbers in the same spot as I did last year, ditto on my tomatoes.

At the end of the season I'm going to pull everything up and start over. I'm reconditioning the soil and will treat it with Preem (or is it Preen?) to cut back on the weeds that keep popping up. Well, maybe I'll do that. I happen to like the marigolds and periwinkles that come back up on their own each year.

I haven't thought much about it, but is Preem something I can even use if I'm going organic? Hmmm, probably not.

I am combating a different problem in the garden that I don't think has anything to do with bugs. Could be wrong, could be horribly wrong! My hydrangeas bloomed for only a short time this year and now they have a problem with spots on the leaves. They've been there for at least ten years, well before we bought the house. I believe the reason they didn't continue to bloom is a lack of water. I've never had to water them before, but as mentioned above, the heat is much worse this year.

I'm including a picture of the leaf just in case anyone has any ideas. I fertilized a few times with the 10-10-10, or whatever the standard fertilizer is... I'll have to go look at the bag.

I thought maybe it was a missing nutrient in the soil. Then I thought maybe it was some sort of fungus or disease.

I've checked the plant carefully and not been able to find any kind of bug, but I suppose it could be a tiny mite.

I've noticed the spots on some other plants and trees but they don't quite seem to be the same. I have sprayed with a fungicide (organic) to see if that will help. I also pruned the dead flowers so the plant could use its' energy to fight off whatever it is.

Something is attacking my garden. Well, a number of somethings are attacking. I learn a bit more each year about taking better care of my garden! What in the world did people do before the Internet? Guess they got up off their butts and talked to people!

Can you tell I'm pretty much a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants garden novice? I don't have a lot of time to spend in the garden, but love it. I get up every morning and water the plants, check for bugs, and do a bit of weeding or pruning. I usually try to spray with Neem or whatever treatment the forums say might work in the evenings.

I made an early mistake in not putting in quality soil. I'm slowly correcting that and this year will be completely rectifying the problem. However, between the bags of good soil and added fertilizer, not to mention mulch, I think the plants are getting enough nutrients.

Well, enough rambling for the day...

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Beetle Battle

My cantaloupes are being attacked by that nasty, pesky, fruit-eating striped beetle. Some are striped, some have the spots (I think they're called a banded beetle). I looked them up and am doing everything I have found to get rid of the stupid things.

It's hard to see in the photo to the left, but the little striped pest in inside the cupped leave to the bottom right. It, or one of it's pals, chewed through the stem of the cantaloupe, which is why it's hanging down like that.

I've been cutting the pieces of stem off and throwing them in the trash figuring it's possible they're laying eggs in there, or otherwise harming the vine.

I have fly paper flying. Neem oil mix that I spray right on the suckers and it doesn't phase them at all. Alcohol and soap mix irritates them a tiny bit but not enough to make 'em even fly off the leaf... or better yet, DIE.

I'm squashing 'em when I can handle it (yuck) and having a little bit of fun taking the fly paper and catching them.

Just went out to see how things were flying and yep, they're still a-flyin'. There are some on the fly paper but it's also loaded with other bugs, moths, tiny things that look like baby flies and unknown thing-a-ma-bobbers.

I read somewhere that you can tell how bad your infestation is by counting the beetles on the fly paper. Sorry, not gonna do that and it doesn't seem like there's a ton of them on the fly paper anyway. I saw three or four on my vine though. I caught one with the fly paper, ha ha, hee, hee...

They've bored into four of my new cantaloupes. At least I guess it's the beetles. Heck, I could have another pest, too. I cut one open and it kind of looked like they were boring into the fruit to maybe lay eggs? See the photo at the right.

I'm cutting the fruit off the vine and tossing it in the trash can... It is VERY frustrating to have a nice little cantaloupe growing only to see a pile of orange-ish crud on the ground below one day, and then to find a hole or two or three. Spraying the cantaloupe with all the stuff I mentioned above isn't protecting them.

I want at least ONE cantaloupe off the vine please. I have two that may make it. They were already almost ready to pick when the infestation started and hopefully the rind is tough enough so they're not enticing to the stupid bugs.

My mom said that she'd been told to spray paint a piece of plywood bright yellow, smear some oil on it. She was told the bugs would be attracted to the yellow, get stuck in the oil. I'm going to go paint some thin squares in a little while and put them out there, too. Pretty soon I'll have a folk art garden, a wonder of wilted leaves and bright shiny bug-attracting things.

OK, I'm off to try and find something else to try. Before it's all said and done these may be the most expensive cantaloupes I've ever eaten.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Love to garden... love to talk about my garden...

I'm an experimental gardener. I'm a novice. I'm having a lot of fun and figured I'd talk about my experiences a bit and maybe find someone who could help me on occasion with the questions that defy answers.

I'm located in Georgia (USA) and it's hot, hot, hot at times! Luckily I'm on a well so water hasn't been an issue for me, although who knows what's going on under the ground... Some of my friends are paying over $50 a month to water their gardens.

I'm on a five-acre piece of land populated with deer, squirrels, rabbits and seemingly an unknown number of bugs that just love my garden.

I grow organically but I'm getting a little frustrated as some of the pests defy everything I throw at them.

Maybe instead of the glib gardener I should be the frustrated gardener! Love gardening but there's nothing worse than walking outside to water only to find the cucumber vine just eaten up with that powdery mildew crud, or see little bored holes in young cantaloupes...

However, there's nothing in the world food-wise than fresh tomatoes out of your own garden, or the joy of sharing a bunch of cucumbers with friends!

More later, I really need to hop outside and kill a few bugs!