Monday, June 10, 2013

protecting my garden from pests


The past couple years have been kind of crazy when it comes to bugs in my garden.  I'm talking specifically of the cucumber beetle and, my favorite, the squash bug.  You can read about some of my previous bouts with these fun friends here and here.  Now of course we seem to always get those wonderful tomato horn worms, and they do a lot of damage as well, but they definitely are not as wide spread as the cucumber beetles and squash bugs.

This year I am bound and determined to get ahead of these bugs.  I'm not sure how well it will work, but I am very hopeful that I can deter them.  I have been checking the plants every day.  The eggs of the squash bugs are typically on the back of the leaves, I don't know how early they show up, but it seems like these bugs are an infestation by the end of June.  And as far as the striped cucumber beetles, they all of a sudden just appear flying around, I don't know where they come from, and haven't spent a lot of time trying to figure that out either.

My first line of defense was to let the chickens loose in the garden last fall, where they would hopefully eat anything that had the desire to overwinter in our garden space.  Of course, that didn't go as well as planned.  They were only satisfied with the garden area for about 2 days, and then they started flying over the incredibly short fence I had set up.

And now we are trying to use floating row covers - which aren't exactly floating right now.  We decided that by getting these over the garden beds early, it should help deter the pests from coming here in the first place because they won't know where to land.  Will this work?  I have absolutely no clue, but it is a start.

The floating row covers, coupled with me getting outside every day and checking on the plants is what I hope will work.  I don't want to spray chemicals on my vegetables, and never have in the years past.  But, last year was the last straw.  I lost all of the cucumbers and squash that I had planted, and it seemed like it happened over night.

I spent a lot of time squishing bugs last year, but after doing some further reading I am just going to spray the squash bugs with soapy water.  Apparently when you squish them, the smell that comes out of them attracts more...so perhaps I shot myself in the foot last year when I spent so much time squishing them?

What do you do to deter pests?  Any ideas on staying ahead of squash bugs/stink bugs/cucumber beetles?  Would you use an organic or non-organic spray if you had a serious infestation?

Linking up at Clever ChicksHomestead Barn Hop, Green Living Thursday, From the Farm

11 comments:

  1. I've tried the soapy water spray to keep the bugs off but it never seems to work. Although haven't had cucumber or squash bugs since we lived in Maine. The horn worms arrived one year but they haven't been a problem since. Hopefully that will be the case! Excited to read what others are doing and how you do, the garden always looks bountiful!

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  2. I came over from Barn Hop and really enjoyed your post. I didn't know that squishing stink bugs would attract more. I may have to rethink my methods. Can bees get through the row covers? If not, will you need to hand pollenate all the squash? I've never used row covers so I really don't know how they work.

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    1. Great question! Actually, I will only leave the row covers on until the plants start to produce blossoms, and then I will remove them. From the research I have done, it should be used for the first 4-6 weeks until the plants are well established, and then removed. We shall see how it goes!

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  3. Last year the squash bugs were horrid, and I got no squash. I tried all sorts of organic methods. This year I'm trying to plant later - usually I plant squash in April. This year I'm waiting until end of June. I hope it works out.

    The hats the twins had on are by Columbia, and the hat Pierce had on is by REI. We bought all 3 of them at REI last November, on after summer clearance :-)

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  4. Are you using seedless cucumbers that don't require pollination? If not, I would open the ends at flowering and replace the row cover at fruit set, or you won't get any fruit!

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    1. No seedless cucumbers here :-) Lots of heirloom squash and pumpkins though! I guess I should have included that I only plan to use the row covers for about a month, until the plants are well established and the flowers start appearing, then I will be taking the covers off in order for my friendly neighborhood bees to come visit.

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  5. I hope you win!! I had squash bugs 10 years ago and they were very very icky!! I never did get rid of them. I have rabbits as pests so we up a fence!! Hopefully it will work.

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  6. I am really struggling with slugs in my beautiful lettuce. I have spent every morning picking out slugs from the size of a sesame seed to the size of a sunflower seed and they are not easy to find. I wish they would find someone else's lettuce to eat! New follower to your blog, please come follow mine as well! I'd like to link up to your 'what you are eating' posts sometime in the future.

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  7. Luckily we haven't had a horrible problem with pests in the garden yet. Last year we had some tomato hornworms and just picked them off and gave them to the chickens. Those things grossed me out haha. I see the guineas spending time in the garden every once in a while, so I think they take care of most of the pests. And hopefully our toad house will lure some toads in to munch on bugs too :)

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  8. Hey there! I'm here from the blog hop and just wanted to let you know I liked your facebook page ;o) Hope you'll get a chance to visit me! You can find me here:

    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Cropped-Stories/615495055132216?ref=hl

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  9. Squash bugs get me every year. For the past few years of being pregnant I just didn't plant them because I didn't have the energy to deal with them. I, like you, this year am desperately searching the backs of the leaves every day for the eggs. No sign yet. I can't wait to see if this works for you. Thanks for stopping by The Sticky Mom!

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