Beetle Bucket O’Death

Stupid Japanese beetles. They are attacking the sweet corn this year.  I’m finding them burrowing into the silk and making a mess.  Tonight I decided to take a bucket of soapy water and see how many I could collect.  By the time I got out to the garden, there weren’t as many in the corn as there were earlier.  I did find a pocket of them on the pole beans and another 10 were in the marigold flowers by the deck.  Side note, don’t people plant marigolds to keep insects away? Anyway, the mother load of the pests were in the weeping cherry tree.  All I had to do was hold the bucket under a branch and tap it to have them all dive for the ground only to be plunged into the “Beetle Bucket O’Death”.

Unfortunately, I know that I have barely scratched the surface of the total number of beetles out there.  I imagine I could do this every day for the rest of summer and still not make a real difference.  I did try to offer the kids a job.  A nickle a beetle in the bucket.  So far, no takers.

Beetle Bucket O'Death

Beetle Bucket O’Death

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July Update

Umm… ya. It has been a month since the last blog post. Sorry about that but it has been busy. Here is a catch all post with pictures from the past four weeks or so.

First up are some pictures of the garden from June 13th before we left on vacation.

Here is a shot of the corn.

Here is a shot of the corn.

Three cucumber plants starting to climb

Three cucumber plants starting to climb

Sweet potatoes are taking off. Starting to leave the raised bed.

Sweet potatoes are taking off. Starting to leave the raised bed.

Golden egg yellow squash still look like two separate plants.

Golden egg yellow squash still look like two separate plants.

Some nice green tomatoes on the Brandy-Boy.

Some nice green tomatoes on the Brandy-Boy.

This year we headed back to the mountains. We spent 10 days in Colorado visiting Denver, Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes Park, Boulder, Ft. Collins, Colorado Springs, Pikes Peak, Canon City and many other points in between.

Pet turkey at one of the Airbnbs on our trip. Kids loved it.

Pet turkey at one of the Airbnbs on our trip. Kids loved it.

Panoramic shot of Emerald Lake in RMNP

Panoramic shot of Emerald Lake in RMNP

A stop along Trail Ridge Road in RMNP

A stop along Trail Ridge Road in RMNP

Eventually, as with all vacations, we had to come home. Also, as with past vacations in June, the garden grows by leaps and bounds while we are gone. This year we had over 4.5 inches of rain while we were away and the temperatures were in the 80s-90s. Very good growing weather as is evident by the next couple pictures.  I didn’t bother showing the rest of the garden as it is just a overgrown jungle.

Corn after vacation

Corn after vacation

A ripe cherry tomato!

A ripe cherry tomato!

Nemesis bugs, Japanese Beetles

Nemesis bugs, Japanese Beetles

A week or so after getting back, it was time to start harvesting some vegetables! So far I have gotten peas, tomatoes, zucchini, yellow squash, cucumbers and green beans. The peas just finished up but I expect the rest to continue producing for a bit longer yet. At least until the bugs and disease start killing the plants. Squash vine borers and spotted blight seem to shorten the squash and tomatoes before they are ready.

Not too bad a harvest.

Not too bad a harvest.

And finally that takes up to today. The shots below were taken in the garden tonight.  Bush green beans are moving into their second week and pole beans are just about to be ready. Corn is fully tasseled and producing ears. I’m guessing another week or maybe two until we get to try some.

They don't call these cargo shorts for nothing. Pocket full o' Green Beans.

They don’t call these cargo shorts for nothing. Pocket full o’ Green Beans.

Next pest in the garden… Moles. 😡

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.