Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Bounty and Bugs

One of my favorite things about summer is that we can walk out and pick a snack. Before starting dinner, the kids and I walk through the garden and eat all the ripe cherry tomatoes. It is a great start to dinner, the kids eating vegetables and it keeps any grumpiness at bay while I figure out what to make. Up until last week, we would go to the garden and pick peas and the few cherry tomatoes that were ripe. So imagine my surprise a week ago when a stroll through the garden finally produced a big enough bounty for dinner. Even the chicken looks excited.

Our bounty: Lettuce, Blue Lake Bush beans, our first non-cherry tomato, sugar snap peas, Sweet basil. Not pictured is a cucumber that I picked earlier that day when I was checking for cucumber beetles. Since dinner was already a little late, I needed something quick.
 
Menu
Starter - Tomatoes, basil and Artisan balsamic vinegar and peas
Main course - Lettuce and cucumber salad, Roasted green beans with toasted almonds, scrambled eggs
Dessert - Watermelon

 
Dinner was delicious and we have been picking tomatoes, a few cucumbers and beans almost every day since. The peas are about done now and we will replant in a couple of weeks. Unfortunately during our daily treks, we have been noticing more and more of these odd blue and black bugs:
 


After some research, turns out they are a type of squash bug! Yuck. That is why my squash and watermelon plants on the weedless gardening side are slowly dying. It would seem that hand picking is the best control method although many people recommended releasing the chickens as well. So this morning I lured them into the garden with a little feed.


Now wouldn't it be too easy if they just went in and ate all the bugs? Of course. Besides, if that worked, all gardeners would need would be a few chickens. The chickens seemed interested in the feed, bugs... and the tomatoes. Since I want to leave the garden gate open for the day, I had to come up with some way to keep them out of my three rows of tomatoes.  Enter the sheets.


Silly looking? Yes. I am hopeful though. Someone already took a bite out of the one eggplant I have growing so maybe this will help. (The eggplant is in with the tomatoes.) Now I just have to figure out why this is the first year I have ever seen them and the best way to mitigate them for the upcoming years. I got some organic compost from an outside source this year so perhaps it came with that. More research is definitely needed. How about you? How do you organically control cucumber and squash beetles?


 

2 comments:

  1. Your garden looks wonderfully productive!
    I updated that blackberry post for you - sorry for the delay. I hope you find it helpful :o) http://www.homebakedonline.com/2011/08/making-most-of-blackberry-season.html

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  2. Thankfully, I haven't had to worry about too many pests so far in my organic garden. Our guineas spend a lot of time over there, so I think they help to cut down the pest population.

    PS - I got my chicken saddles at louisescountrycloset.com. They have several different fabric choices and they are very reasonably priced (I got two saddles shipped for under $10). I haven't seen any patterns online, but I'm sure you could search on backyardchickens.com for "hen saddle pattern" and get a few results :)

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