Monday, June 27, 2011

Me Versus the Pests: Green Acres Weekend Update

For the past two weeks, I've been waging some serious warfare against garden pests.  Since we're not using pesticides, the alternative is to spend time in the garden inspecting the plants and making sure they're not becoming breakfast/lunch/dinner/snack for various and sundry not-so-beneficial insects.  Here are a couple culprits I've battled so far:

Squash Bug by whitney5544
Squash bugs hide under the leaves of squash plants (especially my cucumbers and zucchini), lay their tiny orange eggs on the tops and bottoms of the leaves, and suck the life out of the plants.  I picked these off by hand and dropped them into a coffee can filled with water.  I also scraped the eggs off the leaves and easily squished their evil spawn (which are tiny and white). 
(Photo credit:  whitney5544 on Flickr)
In early summer, squash bugs lay their eggs in neat groups directly onto the leaves of the plants.  The key to managing these pests is to destroy them early on, and to plant more than you need just in case you miss a few.  Once the plants get larger, they are much tougher to inspect for pests. 
Another culprit I've found is the tomato hornworm.  Again, I just picked these off by hand, and they're not as prolific as the squash bugs.  A telltale sign of the tomato hornworm are missing leaves from your plants, and they blend in with the foliage very well, so you have to look for them carefully.  Here's a photo:

Tomato Hornworms by Clampants
(Photo credit:  Clampants on Flickr)
I didn't take photos, but I also picked off some red caterpillar-looking things on the apple trees.  For a spray, I tried combining 2 tbsp of Dr. Bronner's peppermint soap to a gallon of water, but I have yet to see the effectiveness of this method.  So the battle rages on...

Now for the weeds...

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