Trapping Cucumber Beetles By Mimicking a Flower

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That is a cucumber beetle and they can do a lot of damage.  I found them in the garden this morning and took immediate action.
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Cucumber beetles are found on squash, pumpkins, and melons and feed on the plant’s leaves, vines and fruits.  One organic approach is to trap them and this morning I made a trap that mimics the blossom of squash.

Here’s what I did.  I used a yellow plastic cup, a garden stake, and a container of Tanglefoot, a very sticky substance used to trap insects.

I cut a hole in the cup and pushed the stake through. Then I used a brush to coat the exterior and interior of the cup with Tanglefoot.

I placed the trap in the bed where I saw the most cucumber beetles and within minutes trapped one.  Now I will monitor the trap and see what we catch. Let’s hope this is enough to keep the beetles at bay.

If you want to make one of these for your plot in the Pitney Meadows Community Gardens, let me know. I have everything you need.Screen Shot 2018-06-19 at 1.18.19 PM.png

UPDATE: Eleven cucumbers beetles were trapped the first day.

July 8 – Over 100 cucumber beetles were trapped in one plot with these cups.

 

 

Tomato Hornworms in the Garden

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This morning, I found tomato hornworms, Manduca quinquemaculata, on a single tomato plant in one of the raised beds.

These are destructive caterpillars that will defoliate a plant very quickly and decimate your tomatoes. They also like to devour peppers, potatoes and eggplants.

Here’s what to look for: black turds, defoliation of the tender top leaves and a green caterpillar that is both fascinating and disgusting at the same same.

Usually there are many turds on a leaf or on the ground. If you see this, start looking for the hornworms, which can be up to four-inches long. They are called hornworms because they have a black “horn” on the last abdominal segment.

Handpick hornworms from infested plants and remove them from the garden.

Hornworms become a moth commonly known as a hummingbird, hawk, or sphinx moth.

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Enter a captionDamage down by Tomato Hornworms

 

 

 

Planting, Harvesting and Enjoying the Garden’s Bounty

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Today was a true summer day…hot and humid.

But this didn’t slow down the young gardeners at Moreau Community Garden.  Last week we “planted” seeds in clear cups with napkins and a few cotton balls. This week we talked abut how the seeds grew. How the seed swells initially. How a single root forms and then more form. What the roots looked like…and how a seedlings first makes cotyledon (or seed) leaves before true leaves that resemble the adult plant leaf emerge.

bean

Once we talked about the seedlings, we planted them in bed #37 (in case you want to go and check it out) in two rows.  In a few weeks we will be picking beans from this bed.

After planting beans, we harvested nasturtium flowers, which are edible and very colorful. We also harvested scallions and sugar snap peas. A big hit! So sweet and tasty!

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But the best harvest experience of the day was definitely the early red potatoes.

Early potatoes get harvested about the time you see their flowers blooming. The flowers started last week, so this week we began to harvest.  The gardeners dug up around each plant and there were a fair number of potatoes sent back to camp headquarters where Miss Laurie is known for her great efforts preparing the garden produce for the gardeners. Kudos Laurie and a sincere Thank You.

I was told that the rapini sent back the first day was washed, cut into bite size pieces and served with ranch dressing. The whole harvest “every bite” was eaten by gardeners, some of whom never tried this green before.

Today the gardeners tried mint lemonade, and loved it.  It was cool and refreshing on such a hot day. Here’s how it is made:

1 sprig of peppermint per gallon of lemonade

Put a cup of water in a blender and add washed leaves of peppermint. Blend well on high. Then pour the liquid through a strainer to remove the big bits of peppermint leaves.  Add the strained peppermint liquid into pitcher of lemonade.

It’s good. If you haven’t tried it, ask one of the gardeners. They’ll tell you how refreshing it is.

INSECTS

There are many Japanese Beetles in the garden.  Since ours is an organic garden, our best defense is to knock the beetles off plants and into a bucket of soapy water.  The bucket and soap are in the shed. These beetles are voracious and skeletonizing leaves.

We spotted them on bean plants, rhubarb and zucchini.

What was in the Bug Jar?

There were two insects in the bug jar this morning.

The first was a leaf miner larvae.  It is a yellow larvae about a half inch long and, depending on the species, feeds on Swiss chard, spinach, cabbage, broccoli raab, potato, bean, tomatoes, peppers and beets.

You know you have them in the garden if the leaves of your plants have squiggly paths tunneled into them. To control,  remove the infected leaf (insect is inside) and throw it in the trash.

For more information: http://plantdiagnostics.umd.edu/level3.cfm?causeID=266

The other insect was the larvae of a white cabbage moth, which attacks all brassicas.

The specimens in the jar were desiccated so I suggest you look online to find photos.

If  you see them in the garden, pick them off and discard.

What is that beetle?

Jap Beetle

For the person who put the beetles in a jar asking for identification. These are Japanese Beetles.

An easy way to battle them without pesticides – which we don’t use in our community garden – is to get a pail of soapy water and put it directly under the plant being bothered. If you tap the leaf, the beetle drops into the water and drowns.

If you do this early in the day when the beetles are the least active, you will greatly reduce the number of beetles in short order.

 

What was that in the Bug Jar? Answer: A Millipede

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We used to call them “thousand-leggers” when I was growing up. But they don’t really have THAT many legs. The record is 750 legs.

Generally, in small numbers they do no real harm in the garden even though they may nibble a live plant here and there. If you find another, let it be. If you find dozens, then let me know.

Busy Time in the Garden

I spent some time in the garden yesterday doing various tasks.

Here’s what I noticed:

The cucumber beetles are on the attack. If you look at the plants growing nearest the parking lot you will see the damage they do. The leaves have many holes and sections are chewed.

These plants were treated 6/10 with Neem Oil. There were many beetles flying about, so if you are growing a cucurbit, you will want to check your garden plot. Neem oil is mixed in the shed. Look for the labelled spray bottle and spray the beetles in the evening when they are most active. Neem oil needs to contact the beetle to be effective.

Gardeners should look for yellowish eggs under the leaves at the base of the plant. If you find them, squish them.

If there is still a heavy presence of beetles later this week, I will put diatomaceous earth (DE) down around the stems to keep the larvae from entering the soil. DE can be used for cutworms as well and I sprinkled it around tomatoes, celery, kale, beans, peas and other plants bothered by cutworms.

DE is in the shed if you want to use it. Use care when applying as it is very light. All you need to do is sprinkle it around the stem of the plant you are trying to protect. It is not effective once it rains.

Placing cardboard between rows and covering it with wood chips cuts down on the need to weed.

Placing cardboard between rows and covering it with wood chips cuts down on the need to weed.

Pathways

You’ll notice that I placed cardboard down in the pathways to smother the weeds. The cardboard will be covered with wood chips. This should reduce the amount of weeding that needs doing.

If you find you have many weeds in the paths around your plot, rake back the wood chips, put down a sheet of cardboard and then replace the wood chips.

Thinning

It is time to thin your crops. I thinned out the kale yesterday and will be doing the carrots later this week. When thinning it is advisable to water the plants first. This makes it easier to remeve the plant you want without disturbing any others. In the case of carrots, I will thin with a scissors. This avoids the possibility of uprooting its neighbors.

I ran into some other gardeners while there:

Sara found a cutworm that was disturbing the peace in her garden. She put down DE to protect the rest of her plantings.

Bill raked back the wood chips and put down cardboard around his plot to smother weeds. He still needs to pull out a few weeds nearest the bed and replace the wood chips.

Gina was there taking care of cucumber beetles.

It was a good day.

I hope to run into you next time, Natalie

Cutworms in the Garden

Several plots at the Moreau Community Garden have been visited by cutworms.

If you see a ring of yellow paper around your tomato plant, it was put there last night by fellow gardeners in an effort to keep cutworms from destroying your plants. If the cutworms already ate one of your plants, we replaced the dead tomato plant with another tomato plant we had on hand.

What are cutworms?

They are the caterpillars of night-flying moths. They are called cutworms because as they feed on stems and can cut down young seedlings of a variety of vegetables including bean, cabbage, carrot, celery, pea, pepper, potato, and tomato.

What do they look like?

Cutworms vary in color and can be brown, tan, green or gray and black. If you touch one, it will curl up. It is important to clear weeds from your plots and surrounding pathways as this is where the adult moths lay their eggs. The emerging caterpillars (cutworms) feed on the foliage or small roots of weeds or crops.

What can I do?

Most cutworm damage happens when the plants are small. Check you garden plot. If you can be there in the evening this is ideal as that is when they are most active. Sometimes, you can find the culprit in the morning if you run your hand over the soil near the chewed plant. They don’t travel far. Handpick them and get rid of them.

Pulling weeds helps eliminate egg-laying sites and the food source young larvae need to survive.

Another control is to make collars for the seedlings. The cardboard, aluminum foil, or paper barrier keep cutworms off the plants. Some gardeners recycle toilet paper rolls and paper towel rolls for this purpose. Cut the rolls in three inch long sections and place around the stem, burying one end in the soil.

If you find cutworms in your plots, get on top of the problem swiftly as they can do a lot of damage in a short amount of time.

If you have other questions, let me know by leaving a comment below.

Natalie

Japanese Beetles Have Arrived

55-Japanese-Beetles Image from Cornell University Cooperative Extension Clinton County blog posting.

I was in the garden this morning and saw my first Japanese Beetle of the season. The Neem oil we have been using on the cucumber beetles is effective on the Japanese beetles, too.

You can hand-pick them or hold a pail of soapy water under the plant and give it a little shake. This causes the beetles to drop into the soapy water and drown. Either way, if you see them . . . act. It doesn’t take long for Japanese beetles to skeletonize a plant leaf.

Cucumber Beetle Combat and Control

Since finding them in the garden, I’ve been researching striped cucumber beetles and how we can control them organically.

The Facts:
Cucumber beetles are troublesome on cucumber, squash, melons, and pumpkins.
The one I’ve spotted in our garden is the very common striped cucumber beetle but there is also a spotted cucumber beetle in New York that has a yellowish green body and 12 spots.

In addition to the damage these beetles do to leaves, they carry bacterial wilt which, as the name implies, causes the plant to wilt and die.

Attractive Nuisance

Adult striped cucumber beetles are tiny (about a quarter of an inch long) and have a black head and black and yellow striped body.

The adults lay pale orange-yellow eggs near the base of the plant and the larvae feed on plant roots. This is when they are the most destructive and do the most damage.

What to Do

This week, check your crops for beetles early in the day when they are slow and can be knocked into a pail of soapy water and drowned.

Neem oil also works and can be purchased at the big box stores and applied according to label instructions.

Also check near the base of plants for the eggs and remove any you find before they emerge and the larvae go into the roots.

Observation is really the best defense in a garden. Trouble found early can be addressed before issues develop.

Squash Bug

To the person who left an insect in the plastic container. It is an adult squash bug. Handpicking is a good method of keeping them out of the garden as there aren’t many organic controls otherwise.