- Identifying Pests
- Adding Soil to the Leeks
Pests, who wants them? The tricky part is how do you know which insects are good for your garden and which are harmful? It is not always simple, but this week at the teaching gardens we identified the top two insect pests that are common in our garden. The first one, pictured above is the California potato beetle, although; the name isn’t quite fitting because scientists believe that the beetle originated in central Mexico. Potatoes are the preferred host for the Colorado potato beetle, but they may feed and survive on a number of other plants in the Solanacae family. We found several eggs on our eggplants in addition to just the potatoes.
The technique we used to rid ourselves of the potato beetle was handpicking. This can be very effective in small gardens but could be somewhat time consuming in larger plots. All you need is a jar of water mixed with a small amount of soap. This method works because most bugs breath through little holes (called spiracles), theses holes are so small that the surface tension of water near them usually prevents it from flowing inside and suffocating the bug. However, if you put a little soap in a jar of water, and then place the beetle in the water, the soap destroys the surface tension and it causes the bug to drown.
The striped cucumber beetle is the second insect on our the list. The cucumber beetle loves to feast on cucurbit seedlings. So this time of year it pays to take special care and protect against the damage these beetles can inflict. In a previous post I talked about installing foil traps to keep your squash seedlings safe from the cucumber beetle, see the following link for more info.
Another method that is commonly used in organic gardening is delayed planting. Growers can avoid the most significant damage by simply delaying the planting of summer cucurbits by a few weeks. If you don’t mind not getting the first cucumbers of the summer market, let a neighbor’s crop take the brunt of the spring cucumber beetle migration.
It has been several weeks since we planted the leeks and they have matured enough that it is time to add more soil. If you remember we planted the leeks in a small valley so that as they grow we can add soil around the base of the plant, so that our leeks develop that wonderful milky stem. We simply removed the reemay and piled about two inches of soil around the base of the leeks. The class also took a few minutes to weed out the bed before we cover the leeks back up with Reemay.