Thursday, July 8, 2010

bugs, bugs, and more bugs

cucumbers before the beetles


nasturtiums 1

eating beans

Bugs bugs bugs is right!  I can not tell you, my lovely readers, how sad and stricken I have been these past few weeks - to see my cucumber plant succumb to bacterial wilt, and have to be dug up, and said good bye to suddenly and without much warning.  Where to begin ...

Well, let's just say that when your lovely, luscious, large cucumber leaves begin to wilt unexpectedly - you most likely are afflicted with the dreaded cucumber beetle!  Oh those beetles, I want to kill them so! (seriously, and I am a pacifist.)  At first, I could not see them, and so I thought all of my internet research was written by a bunch of incorrect willies - but alas, when I dug the plant up for disposal, they all came marching proudly up the sides of the pot without a care in the world, looking for lunch.  And then - they had the audacity to begin attacking the squash plant.  Well, I can say I successfully beat them off (for now, finally) - and this is how, and this is what to do in the future -

1. squash the beetles when you see them.
2. spray the plant with a neem oil based spray, or if not, then an organic insect killer.

and for next year:

3. mulch the top of the soil to deter egg laying.
4. use floating row covers in the early stages prior to flowering.
5. choose cucumber varieties that are not as susceptible to the beetle, or choose a sweeter variety.
6. plant around the cucumber species that deter the beetle, like radishes.

How these little guys even got to my balcony garden is a question in itself - after all, my balcony is located many feet above the Whole Foods Market loading dock, without a garden or green patch of land within sight...  hmmm...

Well, oh well.  This is why I am a trial-and-error gardener after all, to learn and better myself for next harvest.  Which is why I highly recommend this wonderful book that I am reading for those container gardeners out there - a bible of sorts in my eyes.  for next year and the year after and after that.

next up - the tomato, pepper, and bean harvest.  And after that? well, the fall and winter garden of course!