Squash Bugs…Ugh!

SquashbugsLast season the squash bugs in the Moreau Community garden caused a lot of damage. Entire plants had to be removed, which is terrible considering all the effort we put into growing them and dreaming of the great meals we will make.

On Sunday, I spotted one of these pests in our garden.  Just as expected, since June is the month they begin to lay eggs.

Preferred Plants

If you’re growing melons, gourds, cucumber, summer squash, zucchini, pumpkins, winter squash, you will want to examine your plants closely and take action swiftly.

Squash bugs are sap-sucking insects that lay clusters of copper-colored eggs on the underside of leaves, often near the base. In garden plots like ours, hand-picking is very effective. Squish the eggs when you see them and put any adults in a jar of soapy water – jars are kept under the bulletin board. Be vigilant and check your plants each time you visit the garden.

Early action is imperative.

This is very important to do as left alone the eggs will hatch and dozens of squash bugs will begin feeding….this usually leads to plant leaves wilting and the plant dying.

The other thing to know is squash bugs will seek to hide in nearby weeds. If the pathway around your plot has weeds, remove them. This will help keep your plot healthy.

If you find you have squash bugs, an application of a 1/4 cup of Diatomaceous earth around the stalk of the plant does help. This treatment is permitted in Certified Organic vegetable production.

If you have other questions, leave them in the comments section of this post and I will answer them.

Natalie, Master Gardener and Coach for the Moreau Community Garden

June 22: In the Garden

The Moreau Community Garden was very peaceful this morning. I could hear turkeys off in the distance and that’s about it.

I went about my business of taking care of the 10 plots I maintain for the Family Gardening Program that begins soon. And, I made some notes in my journal of what I did, what I saw, and any other information that helps keep track of what’s happening in the garden.

WEEDING

It’s a toss up right now for which is our most prevalent weed. It might be smart weed. It’s everywhere. Fortunately, it is easy to spot as it has a distinct reddish mark on the leaves.smartweed

I swear this weed can hide because when I am done weeding and start to water, I always find some that escaped my first round of weed patrol.

Our next most prevalent weed is this one. Lamb'squartersKnow what it is?

If you said Lamb’s Quarters, you’re right.

We also have red root pig weed and pictured below, crabgrass. crabgrassStay on top of the weeding and please pull out weeds from pathways, this is a favorite hiding place for insects.

INSECTS

I refreshed the spray bottle of neem oil this morning. I saw that some of you have cucumber beetles on your squash. Remember to spray the adults directly to eliminate this problem. Don’t spray when it is above 80 degrees. And check for reddish eggs on the underside of leaves. If you see these, remove them immediately and destroy.

GROWING STRONG

Here are some pictures to enjoy.

Kitpeas

6.22.14

kale.spinach

carrots6.22

tomato.peas

Thank you to Sara McKay for her help spreading wood chips. It is appreciated.

Hope to meet you in the garden, Natalie

Moreau Community Garden Gardeners

Your help is needed.

While in the garden this morning I notice that we need to spread the wood chips over the cardboard by the squash mounds near the picnic tables, the mounds need to be weeded, too. Anyone who can give a hand, it will be appreciated.

Also, when you weed your plots, do not leave the debris in the pathways. There is a bin for plant material. Pathways should be just wood chips. Thank you.

cuke beetle damageThe Neem oil is doing its job on the cucumber beetles. The plants are looking better now. If you notice yellow and black beetles on your cucurbits, spray them directly with the neem oil. You need contact to kill. And don’t spray if the temperatures are over 80 degrees.

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

Gardeners Won, Weeds Lost

weed scavenger huntGardeners from the Moreau Community Center hunted for 9 different weeds in the community garden last Tuesday as part of a weed scavenger hunt.

The young gardeners were good at finding those plants that don’t belong in the vegetable plots. wsh2 They looked and looked. Hunted and hunted. Can you guess which weed they found most?

Crabgrass!

To all MCG Gardeners: If you haven’t been to the garden to weed . . . you may want to soon.

The Community Center gardeners have several plots in the community garden and in the weeks to come will be learning more and more about what it takes to grow and harvest delicious, fresh vegetables. We are planning a tomato taste test, a salsa making demonstration, an herbed drink day and more . . . much more.

Weed Warriors

We had about 30 children from the community center in addition to other gardeners attend the garden talk on weeds this morning. It was a great group, full of questions about the weeds they found and eager to search and destroy the weeds growing in their plots.

The other Moreau Community Garden gardeners were also happy to be able to identify the weeds in their plots. And one gardener discovered cucumber beetles, a major troublemaker as they carry bacterial diseases. Neem oil soap is a good remedy for keeping populations down. Also, handpicking and tossing them into soapy water is effective.

Among the most common weeds in our garden are goldenrod, smartweed, redroot pigweed, peppergrass, galinsoga, and lambsquarters.

Think you can identify them? Here are some images, see how well you do.I got my common name because it is said my seeds germinate on the way to the ground.  Do you know who I am?

Lambsquarters2weedweed2smartweed
weed3

Answer: Galinsoga, lambsquarters, redroot pigweed, peppergrass and goldenrod.

Weed Identification

Identifying the weeds that are determined to grow in your garden plot is an big part of gardening. Here are four of the weeds that are making an appearance at both the Moreau Community Garden and Saratoga Springs Community Garden. Remember it is easiest to pull these weeds out when they are small.

stingingnettleNettles – From the Cornell University website: “Urtica dioica has an enormous native range – including North America, Europe, Asia, and northern Africa – and a long history of use as a source of food, medicine, and fiber. The leaves of stinging nettles are covered with trichomes, hollow hairs that inject irritating chemicals, including histamines, into anything that touches them – a human hand, for instance.”
If you find this in your plot, use gloves to remove it. And if you are interested in this herbs history and folklore, search ‘nettle history’ online. Nettles are found in Norse myths, Hans Christian Anderson stories, West African tales and more.

Lambsquarters – This is a very common weed in the Northeast perhaps because a single plant can produce more than 50,000 seeds. As you weed, be sure to get the entire root. With time lambsquarters develops a short, thick taproot. At the tender size it is now, it can easily be removed with a pinch from your fingers or a garden hoe dragged along the surface. Here are two more uninvited guests you might want to know.

The first pictured below is common purslane. The weed has distinctive succulent foliage that is edged with a tint of red. Using a hoe with this plant isn’t advised as it can re-root if left on the soil.

Pictured below is Pennsylvania smartweed. Touching this plant causes dermatitis for some people. If you want to see an interesting website on how this plant was used medicinally, go to: http://www.bio.brandeis.edu/fieldbio/medicinal_plants/pages/smartweed.html

No matter how many times we weed, new weeds will appear during the growing season. Don’t give up. It is important to weed as a single weed produces thousands of seeds, pulls nutrients and moisture away from desired plants, and provides shelter for insects making it harder for a gardener to grow strong, healthy plants.

Sunday’s To Do List

This weed has been my nemesis for over a decade.

This weed has been my nemesis for over a decade.


See Saturday’s To Do List.

OK. But to be fair I worked the morning and thoroughly removed the Bishop’s Weed from most of the garden beds. Very thoroughly. The places it came through were along fence lines where it poked through the seams of landscape fabric into my yard.

Did I mention this is an extremely opportunistic, persistent and insidious weed?

I noticed late morning yesterday that I could identify this weed’s roots among other plant roots … that said something … I decided it meant that I’d been weeding too long and needed a break.

Today I will finish the job.