Seeing stripes has me seeing red

Lee and I have been catching up on our garden after goofing off for the last couple weeks. Bad weather makes for lousy gardening days anyway, so camping, hiking, hanging out with friends, and celebrating some milestones took over. When the sun popped out this weekend, we suddenly found ourselves overrun with things to do.

I strolled out to the garden Saturday with my morning coffee to look everything over.

My first stop was to check a small cucumber start that the cucumber beetles had almost stripped the day before. The plant was still alive, just barely, with a few spotted and striped cucumber beetles having a lounge about party on it. I smashed them all.

The next squash plant I came to had the little bugs doing the humpity bumpity. Not on my watch, so I smashed them too.

The third plant I came to had even more striped cucumber beetles trying to create hordes of leaf chomping babies. I squished and smashed and pulverized those bugs as fast as I could.

The forth plant made my jaw drop. I realized the striped cucumber beetles had me outnumbered and ran back to the house. After Lee looked at the swarming hordes of unrepentant leaf munchers we decided to bring out the big guns. Three years ago we bought some Pyrethrin and have only used it twice. (Pyrethrin is an organic pesticide derived from the seed cases of Chrysanthemum flowers. At the right concentrations it is lethal to most insects, but breaks down within a day or two of sun exposure.) It was time to use it again and I sprayed those plants down enthusiastically and with great thoroughness. DIE BUGS DIE!!

While the Pyrethrin was working Lee and I went about our business of weeding, watering, setting rodent traps, making new beds, and inspecting how the garden was growing. I realized that not one cucumber beetle was on my mashua plant. They must have known the plant is an anaphrodisiac.

The broccoli is in full swing right now.

My magnificent cabbage is heading up. I am going to try my hand at sauerkraut as soon as one gets big enough.

Both of the potato rows are doing well. We planted four new varieties this year.

I had a lot of volunteer sunflowers from last year’s plants. I weeded many of them out, but I transplanted the larger ones here and there. These early sunflowers are getting ready to flower.

I planted a row of borrage this year for the first time. I am hoping it will draw bees into the garden and help improve overall pollination. There are flower heads forming.

The row of Joi Choi is doing nice, aside from the many flee beetle holes shot through the leaves. The Pac Choi next to it looks awful. Next year I will not plant Pac Choi.

I pulled a turnip because I couldn’t wait. IT. WAS. AWESOME. TASTING.

Lee and I are pretty excited about the onions. I am so afraid something is going to go wrong and we wont have a harvest again. We need to figure out how to grow onions reliably because we eat a huge amount of them every year.

We didn’t grow lettuce last year and Lee was disappointed.

Now we both keep eyeballing it and wishing it would grow a whole lot faster.

Lee hauled in the last of the compost we bought for the new beds we were tilling. It looked like a lot in the truck bed, but after it was all spread out it seemed kind of pathetic.

As the day went on we kept coming back to the squash plants to see how the bugs were fairing. Prognosis: not good. Many of them flew away after they were first exposed, and by the end of the day there wasn’t a cucumber beetle to be found. Well, not a moving one at least. The beetles returned within a day, but their numbers have been reduced to more manageable levels. Next year we may plant our curcurbits under a cloche.

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9 Responses to Seeing stripes has me seeing red

  1. Snowbrush says:

    Robin, it looks awfully good. Back in the late ’70s when I was into a similar lifestyle, Mother Earth News was pretty interesting, and Rodale Press put out a lot of books about all manner of related activities. Are they still popular, do you know?

    • lee says:

      Both those publishers are still very active today. We had a subscription to Mother Earth News back when we lived in Phoenix and had a 41 square foot garden, but we let it lapse when we moved here. We’ve never bought anything from Rodale, although I’ve looked through their books.

      After the huge growth of Mother Earth News during the 1970s, the magazine changed hands a few times, and diluted their content badly for a while. Some of their staff left and started BackHome Magazine (to which I have also subscribed). The current respin is about 10 years old and is apparently a big improvement over the previous incarnation. I think the content is more oriented toward suburban novice gardeners, but I appreciate that many of their current articles are available for free online and they have a huge free archive going back 40 years.

      Edit: After I wrote this comment I spent some time browsing their website again. I’m really impressed with articles like this one on mosquito repellent plants. Their suggestions are backed by actual university research and they debunk some popular natural remedies which are not supported by the evidence. That’s the sort of rational approach to natural living that appeals to me.

  2. Ann says:

    Sorry to hear about your trials with the bugs. Hopefully things are under control with the pyrethrin. Everything looks really awesome, bugs aside. Can’t wait to hear about the Sauerkraut Trials LOL. I particularly like your first photo…you’ve got a nice, huge garden going on there. I was looking at the weather in your neck of the woods this morning, and it’s looking nippy in many parts of Oregon.

    Did Lee celebrate his big 3-0? Glad to hear you’re finding the time to celebrate and kick back, too. It is summer, after all.

    • robin says:

      We planted two beds of corn a few days ago before the rainy weather hit. Lee is worried it is going to rot now. I am actually glad we have bad weather this weekend as it gives us a break from gardening. ­čÖé

      The striped beetles took a hit but they are ramping their numbers back up. We still go out several times a day and smash the ones we see. The striped ones are faster than the spotted ones so they are harder to catch. I really hate them due to the amount of damage they wreck in the garden.

      Nope, Lee’s big 3-0 is in November. It was my bday and our anniversary that went by. I’m with you on finding time to kick back in the summer. There are just so many fun things to do when it’s not raining outside all winter.

  3. olemike says:

    I am envious of the garden space you have. Looks like you have a great garden.

    • robin says:

      I bet your smaller raised beds are much easier to take care of though. I hope my onions turn out as nice as yours!!

  4. looks great! …not the bugs…and how did you prepare the turnip so it tasted awesome? I do like mashed turnup and carrots but I have never heard a turnip described as awesome..did you hollow it out and drink coffee or beer out of it..that would be awesome..Don’t get me wrong..I am in no way, shape or form attempting to make it seem like turnip is not yummy.

    I liked mother earth news and backwoods too..but I find that the content is not varied enough..seemed like reading the same thing over and my opinion it was the kale of the publishing industry.

    • robin says:

      Wow, now you have some really great ways to eat turnips. I kind of want to try that out now. Just wait, next week I will look for a big one, hollow it, and then make a mojito in it. Either that or drink shots of tequila and lime. But then again, having some whiskey straight in a turnip has a ring to it too. HAHAHAHA. Then I will drill a hole through a carrot and use it as a straw. Best. Turnip. Ever.

      Actually, I just ate it raw. It was so sweet, tender, crisp, and flavorful. Yeah I know, not really terms I would usually use to describe a turnip.

  5. Pingback: The lady beetle infestation | Farm Folly

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