Hello all –
After the long winter, I am so happy to be back at the Moreau Community Garden helping others gardeners and coordinating the Family Gardening Program.
Our start-up date is this Saturday and we will be roto-tilling the beds to work in the cow manure we spread last fall. This will enrich the soil. While you are tilling your beds, keep an eye open for wireworms. These larvae of the Click Beetle were in the garden this year and I did spot one this season as I weeded.
They are a reddish-brown worm about and inch or so long. This is a picture of the damage they do:
Wireworms were one of three problems we had at the garden last year.
The other two were Squash Bugs and Early Blight.There are things we can do now to keep these troublesome three from becoming issues this year.
As you work in the soil, look for them and if you find wireworms remove them by hand. If the numbers are few in your plot, this will work. To be certain, you can slice a potato in half and bury each half beneath the soil in your plot. If there are wireworms, they will find the potato. Check back the next day and dig up the potato. If you see wireworm damage, you might decide to: 1-not grow root crops, their preferred food. 2 – grow radishes early to lure the wireworms and then plant what you actually want. Radishes act as a bait. 3 – Keep turning the bed for the next week to expose the worms to birds.
You’ll note that we are really trying the attract birds this season through birdhouses and a soon to be bird bath. Birds can help keep the insect population down.
Which brings us to. . .
Last season they feasted in the garden. There are strategies to try to keep them at bay which I will outline below. For in-depth knowledge, you can check out http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/insect/05609.html
Squash bugs suck the sap from squash and pumpkin plants causing wilting and death. We had a lot of them in the garden last season. The adults overwinter in debris, which is why we cleaned the beds last fall of all plant matter. Surviving squash bugs have emerged now and will begin to look for mates and lay eggs on the underside of leaves in the next month. One strategy is to cover the squash seedlings with row cover, a lightweight material available through garden catalogs. This keeps these pests off plants. Period. Come the end of June – when most of the eggs have been laid – we remove the row covers and let the pollinating of flowers begin.
If you find bugs on your plants, hand-picking can help. Another organic help is the spread a little Diatomaceous earth around the base of the plants as this is where the bugs are likely to shelter. In mid-June, begin to look for eggs – which are copper colored. If you find them, remove and crush them.
Another thing we can try is companion planting. From internet research I found that dill repels squash bugs as do petunias.
Everyone in the garden needs to be aware of these insects as they are voracious and will do a lot of damage if not controlled.
Last season, Early Blight was the heart breaker and spread through our garden just as our tomatoes were getting ready to ripen. Early blight is carried in the wind and very difficult to control. However, we can: grow varieties of tomatoes that are resistant to this disease, keep the beds very clean, and avoid wetting the leaves of our plants when we water.
I will be trying a few varieties that are resistant to this disease and we will see how they do this year. Resistance helps, but it is not a sure thing.
This Saturday, I will plant peas and a few other vegetables that can handle a frost should one come, which technically can happen but I hope not!
I will also be available to answer questions and help in anyway possible. I am looking forward to seeing you then, Natalie Walsh, Master Gardener