Garden Update 6/12 ~ Dealing with unwanted garden pests organically

My garden is coming along despite the dry weather we’ve been having out here in Eastern Iowa. If you read my update last week, you might remember that my Dad came to visit a couple weeks ago. He’s a much more experienced gardener than I am, so when he talks I listen. One thing he mentioned that was that I need to get a handle on some of the garden pests that are attacking my garden. He specifically mentioned my brassicas: broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussel sprouts. Last year I had a horrible time with the little green cabbage worms and moths. In fact, I let them get so out of control, that I had NO brussel sprouts to harvest. You can see from the whole in my plants that they are being eaten again.

My Dad suggested sprinkling Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) on them. I wanted to make sure that Bt is organic before doing so though, so I did a little bit of research. I learned that Bt is organic. It targets caterpillars specifically which is what I’m after here. It’s also used to control mosquito populations without harming beneficial insects. So, I headed to my local garden center and bought a bottle of Diple Dust for $2.99 and doused my braccias. Now I’ll keep a watchful eye for those nasty green caterpillars. I hope this does the trick! If you’d like to read more at Bt, this website is pretty helpful.

My eggplants are also under attack. My Dad doesn’t grow eggplants so he wasn’t helpful with them. Again, I turned to Google and found out that Flea Beetles are the problem.

I read that Seven is effective at killing Flea Beetles, but that’s not organic and I don’t want to use it. So the first thing I did was smash all of the flea beetles – I looked on top of and under each and every leaf and on the stem. I also read in gardening forums that companion planting radises is a great way to control flea beetles. Well, it’s too late for that. Also, row covers while the plants are young is another effective method for controlling these nasty little bugs – again too late for me. So, I read that sprinkling unused coffee grounds around the plants and dousing the leaves with diluted dish soap might work as well. I happen to have some nasty coffee so I gave it a try. Let me clarify – I love coffee, but we bought a cheap can of grounds and it’s so gross I just can’t drink it. So this is a good use for that coffee! 😉

I also sprayed with diluted dish soap. The next day I when I checked, I saw fewer flea beetles and I made sure to smash them too. The third day I saw no flea beetles, but I haven’t been out there today yet to see what it looks like. I’ll let you know next week how this DIY pest control method worked out for me. It could be that smashing them was enough – but I’m giving other methods a shot, too.

Also happening in my garden:

Wild black-raspberries are ripening! YUM! They aren’t as tasty as real raspberries or blackberries, but they’re tasty while we’re waiting on better berries.

And finally, we’re trying to keep my fruit and nut trees happy. It’s been so dry that we need to water them. We borrowed a big tank from family members over the weekend and are using it to slowly water all of the trees. I’ve watered three so far. Seven to go! I sure hope it rains soon.

We’re still eating peas, kale, and lettuce. I love eating foods I grow myself! How are your gardening efforts going?

Linking up: Tuesday Garden Party;Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways;

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Comments

  1. One of my gardening neighbors was saying that she had good luck with diatomaceous earths for flea beetles.
  2. I also had a problem with flea beetles eating my eggplant last year. In fact, before I discovered the diluted dish soap treatment, my eggplants had been pretty much reduced to toothpicks w/ leaves that looked like lace. I figured they were a total loss and focused on the rest of my garden. To my surprise, those eggplants grew despite the heavy damage to the foliage by the flea beetles and by harvest they produced numerous beautiful eggplants. It seemed the flea beetles preferred eggplant foliage to other plants in my garden, leaving most other things alone completely. So this year I'm not as worried about them, I'll sacrifice the foliage on my eggplants to the flea beetles as long as I know the plants will still produce.
    • That's great news, Tammy! I figured the plants can sustain a pretty good foliage loss, but I didn't know how much they could take without dying. I've learned that larger plants can sustain more damage than bigger plants. Mine are still pretty small but once they get a bit bigger, I won't worry about them either. Thanks for sharing!
  3. My biggest problem this year has been rabbits eating my perennials and now today, tops of some beets. I don't grow too many as I buy weekly at our farmers' market. Good luck with the critters on your veggies.
  4. Hi Michelle: Sorry to hear about the pests. I can't even grow brassicas in my garden due to the little green worms and the cabbage moths. About the only way is to cover them from day one with row cover, but that is really expensive, so I just grow other things that are not bothered by them. I had a huge problem in years past with flea beetles on potato plants--I've included a link to a post I wrote on diatomaceous earth. It helped a little--definitely works best if you put it on as soon as you notice there is a problem. Also works best if it doesn't rain all the time, as it does here. This year--no flea beetles. I think the weather was different, and it must have messed up the beetle's life cycle, because I haven't seen any holes on the potato leaves at all this year.
    • My biggest fear is cucumber beetles. Do you have any tips for them? They decimated my cucumbers last year and I really need to make pickles this year!!
  5. We have the green worms, too. They were bad last year until I picked them off the plants for about a week. Last year, I put the worms in soapy water. This year I just tossed them over the hedge onto the street, the hot, hot street. I've seen those small holes on my eggplant leaves. I never thought to look at them. Maybe I need to call myself the lazy gardener?
  6. I have a sunny room full of plants I bought two days ago. I am afraid to plant them until I figure out and treat for the thing that ate my original garden! This is a problem. Something ate all the tomatoes down to a short stem, in some cases with one tiny leaf still attached, but only because it had wilted and was no longer tasty; rabbits? Then why is my lettuce still there? (The fence has helped some, perhaps), but I caught a little baby bunny stuck under it the other night. Why does my dog think he was adopted anyway? Get to work! Green worms have devoured the roses and there are holes in the turnip leaves. The chives are still alive and mint is everywhere, but the echinecea, milkweed and flowers' leaves are all holey. The only sign of bug I can see it not an aphid, but a tiny black dot from time to time. If your father cannot pay me a visit, could you offer any advice?
  7. I tend to my garden everyday for a while now and i seem to have a little bit of a pest problem. I think i'll use some of the advice here to get rid of them before they become a major pain.
  8. Very useful tips and ideas to deal with unwanted garden pests. If our plants in our garden are being eaten by pests, then we should take effective steps to remove such unwanted pests before our plants destroyed.

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