Next pest in the garden… Moles. ūüė°

Earlier this week on one of the rainy days, I made a quick check on the garden. Everything seemed okay until I noticed a raised ridge of dirt and gravel between two of the beds. After a further survey of the area, I found more tunnels leading out the back of the garden through the yard to the nearby utility box and then on to the neighbors yard and flower beds.¬†So far at least, it/they don’t seem to be actually damaging any of the vegetable plants but are starting to make a mess of the garden. A brief search online seems to indicate that they eat insects. Hopefully the repellent will encourage them to move on to another yard.

Small mole hill beside the raised bed

Small mole hill beside the raised bed

Disturbed soil along side of raised bed

Disturbed soil along side of raised bed

Another mole hill at a corner of a raised bed

Another mole hill at a corner of a raised bed

Mole repellent

Mole repellent

 

Intruder alert!

While checking on the garden tonight, I noticed some peculiar soil formations under the pole beans. On further inspection, it turned out something has been digging around the base of the plants.  As I continued to walk around the bed, I noticed a sizable hole under the cucumbers along with a number of tunnel tracks. Hmm, starting to look like something found a way in through the fence. Or more likely, under the door. So, far at least, no lasting damage has been done.

Weird digging patterns under the pole beans

Weird digging patterns under the pole beans

What could be hiding down this hole?

What could be hiding down this hole?

Soil pushed up from the tunnels being dug

Soil pushed up from the tunnels being dug

Tunnel excavation dumping ground.  Right in the middle of the lettuce.

Tunnel excavation dumping ground. Right in the middle of the lettuce.

So… what could it be? ¬†My money is on one of these guys…

 

Or maybe, that pile of soil in the lettuce is made by one of these…

A mole perhaps?

Independence Day Update

Today is one of those perfect July days. Blue sky dotted with puffy cumulus clouds, light breeze and temperatures in the mid 70s. I figured today would be a great day for a garden status update.

For starters, we get a update on the garden from a short distance away.  It is amazing how much the plants have grown in the last 3-4 weeks.  The warm temperatures and well timed rain have done wonders for getting the plants off to a great start.

Garden Jungle

Garden Jungle

Already overgrown

Already overgrown

In the picture above, we see the cucumbers climbing and covering the trellis with the green bean tower in the upper right.

Most of the tall plants are in the front of the garden this year

Most of the tall plants are in the front of the garden this year

Green beans are close

Green beans are close

The green beans are doing pretty well this year.  A small pest problem just starting with a few leaves being perforated, but sprinkled a bit of the Bt powder in the hopes it will ward off the pests.  Depending on what it is that is eating it, I may need to switch over to some insecticidal soap.  I am thinking the first green beans on the table will be later next week.  Hmm, better make sure I have some brown sugar and bacon on hand.

Bunches of baby cucumbers

Bunches of baby cucumbers

The cucumber plants have been producing more baby cucumbers than I could count. ¬†So, why haven’t you seen any pictures of all these wonderful cucumbers harvested? ¬†They never make it past the tiny baby cucumber stage. ¬†They turn brown, shrivel up and fall off shortly after the bloom falls off. ¬†Researching what is going on here is on my todo list. ¬†Could it be lack of pollinators? ¬†Perhaps there is a mineral deficiency in the garden? ¬†If I ever figure it out, I’ll be sure and post it.

Golden Egg Yellow Squash

Golden Egg Yellow Squash

Sort of the same issue with the cucumbers is also happening to the squash as well as zucchini. ¬†The plant is producing plenty of fruit, but it just does’t seem to mature into something harvestable. ¬†So far, I have only gotten one yellow squash from the four plants in the garden. ¬†I’d guess that the plants have produced close to 40 fruits, but they just can’t hang on.

Peter piper picked a peck of ... Well, you get the idea.

Peter piper picked a peck of … Well, you get the idea.

The pepper plants are all starting to produce some peppers now. ¬†Not exactly sure what I am going to do with all of them once they are ready to harvest, but I’ll either figure that out when the time comes or give them away to those who already have it figured out.

Baby Lima Bean

Baby Lima Bean

The Lima Bean plants are doing great this year and are full of blooms. ¬†A few have already turned into baby Lima bean pods. ¬†I’m hoping that this years harvest will be better than last years.

Zoomed in Zucchinis

Zoomed in Zucchinis

Kind of an ugly zucchini.  Again, as I mentioned with the cucumbers and squash, the zukes just are not keeping their fruit.  Off to the left you can see a bit of the Bt powder that I have sprinkled across the stem in an attempt to keep the evil squash vine bore at bay.

Sizable Onions

Sizable Onions

I am very excited about the onions this year.  The yellow in particular have a few very respectable bulbs which have grown quite well.  The reds are doing okay and the white onions seem to be staying subterranean for the time being.

Just shy of 7 feet

Just shy of 7 feet

Another update on the sunflowers, here we see the tallest approaching the seven feet mark.  Pretty soon it will be hard to measure these guys.

Green tomatoes

Green tomatoes

I haven’t talked about the tomatoes too much this year. ¬†Here is a Brandy Boy hybrid showing its newest fruit. ¬†The Sweet 100 are doing pretty good¬†as well with some small green tomatoes. ¬†Sadly, the Fourth of July variety still have a ways to go and will once again not live up to their namesake.

Expanding Sweet Potatoes

Expanding Sweet Potatoes

Not sure what is happening under the ground, but the sweet potatoes have certainly started to fill in their area and expanded outside into the walkway.

Last picking of peas

Last picking of peas

Finally, we have one more picture of the sugar snap peas. ¬†I picked all these pods today and am figuring that this will most likely be the last peas harvested of the season. ¬†I’ll think about getting a second planting in if there is time and energy.

The Battle for Brussels (sprouts)

The cabbage worms have launched a major offensive while my attention has been elsewhere and have resulted in devastating results.

I spent about an hour beating back the onslaught with my trusty screw.  I estimate removing at least 100 of the vermin.  In addition to physically dispatching the worms, I am also trying an insecticidal soap.  It seems to work on at least some of the worms.  Trouble is, they like to hide on the back side of the leaves, so I have to turn over each one, look for the worms and then either pierce them with the screw, or if there is a lot of them, soak them with the soap.  My hope is to remain vigilant and beat back the tide and let the plants recover.  Unfortunately, I have a poorly timed trip for work coming up that may give the worms some time to recover.  Hmm, maybe I need to sign up some recruits.

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The damage is quite extensive

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Brussels Sprouts or Swiss Cheese?

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How many enemy worms can you find? (Click to enlarge)

Be ever vigilant

In the battle against pests eating your plants, you really can’t let your guard down, not even for one night.

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Opened gate

In this case, the lapse in security was an open gate for a single night.  Surely, nothing would bother with the garden the first night the gate had been left open in over a year and a half.  Well, guess again.  I left the gate open for one night, ONE NIGHT and a pesky deer (or more I suppose) decided to belly-up to the buffet and sample the various delectables at the salad bar.

It wasn’t obvious at first, there is so much plant matter crammed into the space that it is a bit of a jungle at times. ¬†But I started noticing a couple oddities. ¬†A few green bean leaves were laying on the ground looking liked they were torn from the plant as opposed to falling off from normal causes. ¬†I then noticed some leaves on the tomato plants were missing and all that was left was the stem. ¬†Could be Tomato Horn Worm, but I’ve been pleasantly free of them this year. ¬†Besides, worms generally don’t leave HOOF prints in the soil! ¬†Once I saw the tracks, the rest of the evidences suddenly leapt into view. ¬†They seemed to enjoy the cherry tomatoes where a number of leaves and fruit are missing. ¬† A section of lima bean leaves were missing as well as a section of cucumber leaves.

In the end, it could have been much worse and I am thankful that I was let off with just a warning, but the message was clear, next time I won’t be so lucky.

Sunflower updates and other misc items

Most of the sunflowers are in full bloom (3 of 5). I finally had a chance to visit the garden in daylight and figured it would make for some better pictures and a measurement.  Once again a step ladder would have helped, but I like to do things the hard way.

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Reminds me of a lion for some reason

This one made it simpler on me and has started to look down towards the ground.  The head of the sunflower is only about 6 feet off the ground now.

The leader of the group has also started to face the ground, but it is still around 9 feet up.  How big is the flower?  Check out the picture below to see a poor measurement attempt.

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Hard to measure something up so high

The tape is at a pretty severe angle, so I am going to guess a bit and call that about 8-9 inches for the center part and a little over a foot if you go petal tip to petal tip. ¬†Pretty soon I will have to start researching what to do with these. ¬†I’d like to get a bag of sunflower seeds out of two or three of the heads.

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Rare picture of the gardener himself

My wife happened to be out in the garden this morning and offered to take a picture.  So, in a first for the blog, here is a picture of me next to the tallest sunflower.  Heck, aside from the trees and the house, that might be the next tallest thing in the yard.

So, enough about sunflowers.  What else is going on in the garden.  The last few weeks have been another chapter in the bug battle.  This time it is worms eating the Brussels sprouts.  Below are pictures of the two types making the leaves look like (or even worse than) Swiss cheese.  Both appear to be different types of Cabbage worms.

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Pesky work type #1 – Evergestis rimosalis

This first one looks a lot like a Evergestis rimosalis or more commonly known as a Cross-Stripped Cabbage Worm.

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Pesky work type #2

This one seems to be an Imported Cabbage Worm known as Pieris rapae. These are much harder to spot as their green color is almost the exact shade as the leaf on which they are hiding. Also in the picture is my latest cabbage worm remover. A poke and twist usually makes quick work of the pesky problem.

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Flowers as far as the eye can see… well sort of.

From this angle here, it looks like a flower garden and not a vegetable garden. The picture below shows the bed from a different angle and you can see how the zinnias are pushing hard on the Brussels sprouts.  Mental note for next year.. zinnias take up a lot of space.

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Way too crowded

That being said, I do like the extra color to the garden with the zinnias.  Here is a good pink/purple colored flower with a nice red one below.

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Zinnia closeup

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A red zinnia

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Butterfly checking out the red zinnia

Finally, there were a number of flying visitors to the garden today.  The bees and bumble bees were out in force checking out all the various flowers.  Above is a picture I was lucky enough to capture of a butterfly.  The snapshot I would have liked to get was of a hummingbird flittering from flower to flower and zipping about the garden.

 

Matt’s Grub Garden

After the work in the garden this week, I think I should rename the garden. ¬†Earlier this week I noticed the yellow squash were not looking too good and that their production of fruit has ceased. ¬†I took a closer look and found the signs that the grubs were hard at work on these plants as well. ¬†The area for the squash was very crowded, so I pulled two of the four plants. ¬†I removed the grubs best I could from the remaining plants and proceeded to cover the stems with soil. ¬†These squash have traveled a lot further than the zucchini so there was a lot more stem laying along the ground that can be covered. ¬†While digging up soil to cover the plants I found about a dozen of the big fat white grubs pictured below. ¬†What I don’t know is if this is a larger squash vine bore that has already left the vine and started to prep for winter. ¬†I’m thinking not… but more research is needed. ¬†They look like the same grubs that you would find in your lawn eating the roots of grass. ¬†Either way, they won’t be doing any grub-y things any more.

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Fat grub dug from the soil

 

While doing some research, I came across a good video that shows about the same thing I did with mine.  A lot of times a video is a better source for seeing how to perform a task.  Here is a Garden Fork.TV video doing battle with Vine Bores.

So, how are the patients doing?  Below is a picture of the zucchini close to a week after its operation.  I have to say, I am happy to see the plant is still in line.

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Recovering zucchini plant

Here are the two squash pants just after getting their grubs removed.  The plant in the lower right was in worse shape than the one in the upper left.  Both are still alive, so all I can do now is water and wait.

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Two remaining yellow squash

Now to close on some good news.  Tonight when I went to check on the garden I was very happy to see a pickably sized zucchini hiding under a big leaf.  The zucchini plant may not be as good as new, but it seems like the operation was at least successful enough to prolong the zucchini season a bit longer.

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First zucchini post grubectomy