Political Commentary

Thursday, July 16, 2020

 From the Gardens Registrar: Beetles; Toads; Garlic; More Volunteer Activities; Got an Old Sandbox?

 Hello Gardeners,
BEETLES – This is the time of year that many kinds of beetles descend on our gardens to nibble our produce. Here are some of the most popular, currently:
MEXICAN BEAN BEETLES – Although they’re a type of ladybug, these beetles don’t eat other insects – they eat bean leaves. When there are large numbers of them, they can do enough damage to kill bean plants. Also, they can spread diseases which hurt the plants. The beetles are orange, with black spots. The larvae are yellow and spiny. There are a few ways to minimize damage – plant beans early so that you get beans before the beetles arrive in July, and/or plant beans later in the season, so the beetles are done by the time the beans start growing. Row cover can help, although you’re not going to be able to cover your pole beans with row cover. Also, some varieties are more resistant to the beetles. As always, the most effective and safest treatment is hand-picking the beetles, larvae, and eggs off of your plants and tossing them into soapy water. Marigolds and onions may help to repel them. Also, there is a kind of wasp that eats bean beetles, Pediobius foveolatus, which we have purchased and which we are distributing around the gardens this week. Please note that these wasps are tiny, and do not sting humans.
JAPANESE BEETLES – I don’t worry about bean beetles in my plot, because the Japanese beetles seem to always get my beans before the bean beetles do. These are remarkably beautiful iridescent beetles, a type of scarab beetle, which don’t do much damage in Japan because they have natural predators there. But here, they are very destructive to hundreds of plants, particularly roses, beans, and raspberries. They’re all the more destructive because they feed in large groups. Again, hand-picking them off your plants is the safest method of getting rid of them. Neem oil and insecticidal soap may be helpful. Also, they’re attracted to geraniums, but the leaves make them dizzy, they fall off the plants, and you can sweep them up. And no, I didn’t make that up.
CUCUMBER BEETLES – These beetles are yellow with black stripes, though some are also spotted. Again, they eat your plants, but the damage they do comes mostly from their spreading diseases, such as wilt, which will kill your plants. Nasturtiums may help deter them. Also, planting cucumber seeds late could help. They also attack both summer and winter squash, and beans, if the bean beetles and Japanese beetles have left any. There are other pests that attack squash, but this is depressing enough for this week.
TOADS – Now, a more pleasant subject.  We have always had toads in the gardens, but I’m seeing more of them than I have for the last few years, and so are other gardeners. The species is American Toad, and they are amphibians. They are not only really cute, in a grumpy warty way, but they are great animals to have in your garden, because they eat lots of kinds of insects, as well as slugs, snails, and worms. (No, they don’t eat jumping worms, unfortunately.) They like to live in moist places, such as under boards. Some people make toad houses to attract them. I don’t know if it works, but here’s some sample instructions: https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/special/children/garden-toad-house.htm
GARLIC – Gardeners are starting to dig out their garlic now. Late July is the usual time around here. Besides harvesting at the right time, it’s important to cure and store it properly. Here’s a website with lots of information: https://keeneorganics.com/harvesting-garlic/
VOLUNTEERS – We’re looking for 3 people to help Megan, our garden worker, with weed whacking on a Monday morning – 9am – 10am. This is credited towards your 3 hour work requirement. Please let me know if you’re interested.
SANDBOX – Has anybody got an old sandbox they’d like to donate to Eagle Heights for the 1100 row?
Happy Gardening and Take Care,

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