facebook pinterest twitter google instagram rss

What You Need to Know about the Colorado Potato Beetle

The Colorado Potato Beetle or potato bug is a garden pest you do not want in your home garden. These potato bugs will decimate your potato crop if left unchecked. If you have Colorado Potato Beetles on your potato plants, you will want to follow this advice to get rid of them as quickly as possible.

colorado potato beetle potato bugs

What is The Colorado Potato Beetle?

The Colorado Potato Beetle (Leptinotarsa Decemlineata) is a destructive, ten-striped beetle. Its Latin name Decemlineata means ten-lined. It helps to understand the life cycle so here are three different things to look out for in your garden if you think you might have Colorado Potato Beetles.

Adult Colorado Potato Beetles

Adult Beetles are quite large and are yellow with ten white and or black stripes. They are easy to grab and drown, or grab and squish, or grab and feed to your chickens. Chickens think garden bugs make delicious snacks. 

colorado potato beetle eggs

Eggs on the Underneath Side of Leaves

If you see two adult beetles on top of each other, beware. They are mating and the next step will be for the female to lay as many eggs as possible. The eggs are yellow in color and are found on the underneath side of leaves. The eggs hatch into beetle larva which will happily attack your potato field.

Colorado potato beetle

Beetle larva
The larva are reddish bugs with black spots. They start out very small, and get bigger as they grow into adult beetles. As they grow, they eat the leaves of their host plant.

Left unchecked, the Colorado Potato Beetle can be deadly to your potato crop. They also like tomatoes and eggplants so watch for them there, too. Here are a few things I did to kill the Colorado Potato Beetle organically.

How to Kill the Colorado Potato Beetle Organically

I’m having a lot of trouble with bugs in my garden this year. So far, I’m battling the Cucumber Beetle, the Colorado Potato Beetle, and I’m also working on Squash Bugs and Japanese Beetles. It’s a bad, bad year for beetles. 

I really try hard to maintain organic methods in my garden. I don’t want to smell the chemicals, ingest the chemicals, or feed them to my kids. A lot of bugs have also developed resistance to chemicals anyway, and I also don’t want to kill all the good bugs that are working in my favor.

Luckily, it’s not that hard to kill the Colorado Potato Beetle organically, provided you find them early and strike hard! Here are five things to do get control of Colorado Potato Beetles in your garden. 

  1. Mulch heavily
  2. Kill them when they’re larvae
  3. Plant potatoes as early as possible
  4. Release beneficial insects
  5. Make sure to rotate your crops

Mulch heavily to control Colorado potato beetle

First, cover your potatoes with straw mulch – mulch encourages good bugs to move in – bugs that eat the Colorado Potato Beetle. Straw mulch is also good at covering the potatoes to keep them from turning green, and helps to control moisture too!

colorado potato beetle

Get ’em while they’re larvae

Next, pay attention! I had never heard of the Colorado Potato Beetle until my friend told me that SOMETHING was eating her potatoes. Once she told me that, I took a long, slow walk through my potato plants and found the beetle larvae. I still have not seen an adult Colorado Potato Beetle, but for days I walked through my potatoes and killed every single larvae I could find.

Some were bigger, like the fatter larvae in the pictures above, and some were smaller – like this tiny one pictured here. To kill them, I handpicked them. Some, like this teeny one, I squished between a leaf.

ow to drown colorado potato beetles

Others, I drowned in a bucket of soapy water. Since I didn’t want to touch some of them, I just removed the entire leaf and dropped it all in the water. Then, I made sure to remove the leaf from the bucket, so they would be sure to drown. Aren’t they nasty looking?

Plant potatoes early in the season

Ideally, plant potato plants as early as possible so that they bloom before June. If you do that, some damage from the beetles won’t be enough to impact the yield of your plants. In Zone 5, potatoes can generally be planted by mid April, sometimes even by late March if the ground can be worked. To speed up the planting, cover your ground with plastic to help it warm up.

Rotate your crops & add good bugs

Next year, I will rotate my potato crop at least 200 feet from its current location. I’m also thinking seriously about introducing some parasitic nematodesblank to my garden to help with bug control as well. I have read that they will help with all kinds of garden pests – cucumber beetles, Colorado beetles, and even Japanese beetles! I need these nematodes in my garden for sure.

Colorado potato beetles lay their eggs on the underneath of leaves. They are narrow and yellow and they make delicious ladybug food. So another prevention method is to release ladybugs in your garden!

I haven’t seen a Colorado Potato Beetle or Larvae in a couple of weeks. I am still patrolling daily with eagle eyes to make sure they stay away. I’m pleased that they seemed relatively easy to get rid of and thankful that my friend made me look for them. If they had matured and laid more eggs, I’m sure they would have been much harder to destroy. And who knows, next week, I may be singing a different song, but today, I am happy that I haven’t seen any evidence of these nasty bugs for many days!!


organic potatoes

And look what I harvested from my garden today! Oh yum! I’m looking forward to fried potatoes tonight!

For a more in depth discussion of the Colorado Potato Beetle, head over to the Vegetable Gardener’s website. They discuss other fun methods for destroying this nasty pest.

Fro more gardening and homesteading posts, start here:

The Easiest Way to Grow Potatoes –  No-Dig Method

How to Kill Cucumber Beetles Organically

Where to Find Free Mulch

Companion Plants You Need in Your Garden

Gardening for Beginners Made Easy

Have you dealt with Colorado Potato Beetles? What did you do to kill them?

5 Must Know Tips for Transplanting Tomato Plants

Homegrown tomatoes are the best!! And it’s not that hard to grow them, but you can do a few things that make a big difference in growing successful tomatoes from the very beginning. To get your tomato seedlings off to the best possible start, you must know these five tips for transplanting tomatoes! It all starts with the transplanting.Must know tips for planting tomato seedlings

*This post contains affiliate links which means I earn a small commission on your purchase.*

Welcome back to Tuesdays in the Garden! Today, you’re in for a treat. Not only do we have lots of great gardening tips to help you get your spring planting right, but we also have a few homemade gifts you can quickly put together, just in time for Mother’s Day! Make sure to read to the end of the post and check out all the great ideas from my dear gardening friends.

5 Must Know Tips for Transplanting Tomato Plants

Have you planted your tomatoes yet? It’s generally safe to plant them around your frost free date.  Our official frost free date (May 15) is right around the corner, but I always check the long range weather forecast before deciding when to tansplant my tomato plants. Fro the last three years, we have had a killing frost after May 15, so quite often, transplanting tomato plants has to wait. If you’re looking forward to transplanting tomato plants, too, make sure you read these must know tips!

pinch off bottom leaves
1 .Dig a deep hole and pinch off the tomato plants’ lower leaves.

I like to plant my tomatoes deep for a couple reasons. First, it’s super windy out here in the Iowa Prairie and planting them deeply gives them better support from the wind. It  allows roots to develop all along the tomato stem which helps make the plant stronger. So, dig a hole deep enough that only the top leaves will be showing on the ground. Pinching off the lower leaves also encourages roots to develop too, so carefully pinch off the leaves before you put the seedling in the hole.

Make sure to support the stem as you cover it with dirt. Be careful when you’re covering the plant with dirt so you don’t accidentally harm the little seedling. I like to support the stem with one had and fill the hole with dirt with the other hand. You don’t want to break the stem as you cover it – I’ve done it and it makes me very sad. Make sure you cover the seedling up to the top leaves.

2. Wondering how far apart to plant tomatoes?

Make sure you give your tomatoes enough space to grow.

  1. Dwarf tomato varieties only need to be about 1′ apart, with 2′ – 3′ between rows.
  2. If you’re staking your tomato plants, they’ll need about 2′ of separation to grow, with 2′ – 3′ between rows.
  3. Using large cages? They’ll need to be about 3′ apart, and probably 4′-5′ between rows.
  4. Want to let your tomatoes grow without support? You’ll need a lot of room! About 3-4′ between plants, and 4′-5′ between rows.

water the tomatoes after planting

3. Water tomato plants generously after planting.

Newly planted seedlings need a nice drink of water immediately after planting so make sure you water right away. I like to make an indent in the dirt around the plant so the water stays near the seedling instead of running away. You’ll want to continue watering for a few days if you don’t get a rain pretty quickly after planting.

mulch tomatoes

4. Mulch right away.

Since you’ve gone through the effort of planting tomatoes, just go ahead and mulch them right away. I’m often tempting to skip this step and get to it later, but I’ve found later sometimes never comes. Mulching right away is a great way to keep down the weeds and it also helps keep them moist. I used old hay we got for free in this picture, but a better mulch is straw because it’s weed free. My hay is very, very old, so I hope nothing will sprout from it. I could be wrong though, and end up seriously regretting the use of this old hay. I’ll let you know if that’s the case!

support tomatoes with homemade tomato cages

5. Add a support trellis or basket immediately.

Another key to tomato success,  is to add support right away. Tomatoes like to be supported and I know from experience that if I don’t support them right after planting, I won’t ever get back to it. Pretty soon I end up with a huge tomato jungle – and while I don’t think that’s a terrible thing, it does make picking the beautiful fruits more difficult and a lot of them end of smashed by my big feet. In years past, I used these homemade tomato baskets last year. They are easy to make and easy to use, but they take up a lot of space so you need a large growing area if you want to use homemade tomato baskets.

tomato trellis from moss mountain farm

This year I am hoping to use these homemade support systems I saw a Moss Mountain Farms. I love that this tomato system takes up less room than my huge cages and I think it’s awfully pretty too! Also, it’s a way to grow more tomatoes in less space since you don’t have to set the tomatoes so far apart. Do you have a favorite tomato trellis you like to use?

And that’s the start to a successful tomato season! Have you planted your tomatoes yet? I’d love to hear your ideas for success too. 

tuesdays in the garden

Tuesdays in the Garden

Want more garden tips from my friends from around the web. Make sure you click over to everyone’s posts and check out what’s going on in different parts of the country! We’ve got a couple homemade gift ideas that might be perfect for Mother’s Day this weekend, as well as growing tips too!

frugal family home

Shelly from Frugal Family Home is sharing a mini green house idea for small spaces!

hearth and vine

Patti from Hearth and Vine is sharing a cute DIY Gazing Ball – what a great gift is this?

an oregon cottageJami at An Oregon Cottage is sharing her homemade Salad Dressing Gift Basket

homemade food junkie

Diane from Homemade Food Junkie is sharing tips for growing strawberries in DIY towers

angie freckled rose

Angie the Freckled Rose is sharing tips for adding visual interest in your garden!

If you liked this post with tips for transplanting tomatoes, you might like these post too.

7 Methods of Natural Weed Control for a Weed-Free Garden

Companion plants you must have in your vegetable garden

How to grow a three sisters garden

How to kill cucumber beetles organically

18 Time Saving Spring Cleaning Hacks & Free Printable Checklist

It’s officially March and you know what that means – it’s time to get busy cleaning! Save a lot of time with these 18 Spring Cleaning Hacks and enjoy the free cleaning checklist printable we made for you. 🙂
spring cleaning

How can it be time for spring cleaning already? Are you ready? I know I’m not. Truth be told I have a hard enough time with the day to day tasks! Trying to add in more for deep cleaning is hard! To help us all out, I’ve put together a post with 18 different time saving clean springing hacks! All of these ideas should help those of us who struggle to keep the house in order. Are you with me? 

18 Time Saving Spring Cleaning Hacks

18 Time Saving Spring Cleaning Hacks & Free Printable Checklist

Time saving tips and tricks for those of us who hate spring cleaning.


While you’re here, get this Spring Cleaning Checklist!

Now that you’re inspired to spring clean, grab my spring cleaning checklist and start checking those items off the list! I highly recommend that you involve the whole family. Spread the love and get busy cleaning. 

Spring Cleaning Printable

Download the Printable here

 

Time Saving Spring Cleaning Hacks

Are you ready for Spring Cleaning? What chore do you most dread?

 

Top 10 Plants for Early Spring Harvest

If you’re trying to eat local, in-season food, make sure to include these top ten plants for early spring harvest. They will yield the first food in the spring so you can have farm fresh produce as soon as possible.

top 10 plants for early spring harvest

*This post contains affiliate links which means I earn a small commission from your purchase.*

One of my long term life dreams is to eat only locally grown and produced food, like Barbara Kingsolver did in her book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle {one of my most favorite books of all times}. At first thought, it sounds kind of doable, right? I mean, I have a big garden, and I have egg and meat chickens. I’ve also found a source for local pastured pork and organic, local, grassfed beef. But the logistics are really a lot more complicated than my pea-brain can handle. And it would take a REALLY REALLY REALLY big garden to produce enough food to feed my family of six. Maybe some day.

For now, I will be content to do what I can, and that means maximizing every growing season, and this post starts with spring! Enjoy my list of the top 10 plants to consider if you want to get the earliest possible harvest out of your garden.

Top 10 Plants for Early Spring Harvest

bowl of strawberries and asparagus in the grass

Early Spring Perennials

I love perennials because I can plant them once, and reap the rewards for years! It’s also a bonus that a few garden perennials produce some of the earliest food in the spring, so make sure to include them in your garden.

Rhubarb – it seems a lot of people have a love/hate relationship with rhubarb, but I love it. It’s also ready for picking sooner than most other fruits and is delicious in crisps, scones, and made into syrup too!

Strawberries – strawberries are the first berries to ripen, usually late May or early June in my area. Nothing beats a fresh strawberry right out of the garden! And since conventionally grown strawberries are some of the most pesticide laden fruits grown, we prefer to grow our own.

asparagus on a sheet pan for roasting

Asparagus – asparagus is ready for a full harvest the third year after it’s planted. It’s one of the earliest crops of spring – so delicious!! We look forward to fresh asparagus every year.

Spring Veggies to Plant before the Last Frost

Spring Onions / Potatoes – can be directly sown from seed six weeks before the last frost if the ground is workable. Onions grow quickly and the greens can be cut pretty soon after they start growing. If you leave the bulb in the ground and just cut the greens, they will even grow new greens for you!

Potatoes are generally ready for harvest a little later, but you can carefully collect new potatoes without disturbing the plant ten weeks after the potatoes were planted. We use the no-dig planting method to grow potatoes. Learn more here.

Spinach / Kohlrabi / Kale – can be directly sown from seed five weeks before the last frost date. It’s especially important to plant spinach early as it needs six cool weeks to reach maturity and bolts quickly in hot weather.

Peas / Radish / Carrots – can be directly sown from seed four weeks before last frost date. Peas also don’t do well in hot weather, so make sure to plant them as quickly as possible. Every year I have volunteer radish crops in my garden because I let some go to seed in the summer. They are some of the first fresh veggies we eat!

Forellensuss Lettuce

Lettuce / Swiss Chard – can be directly sown from seed two weeks before last frost date. I also have volunteer lettuce in my garden from time to time and love it! Fresh lettuce is just delicious.

Check your seed packets to see which varieties mature the quickest. Some radishes are ready within 25 days! And lettuce is very quick growing too.

Did you know I wrote my first book? You will love my new book – part homesteading tutorial and part cookbook. If you want to take the next step toward self-sufficiency, learn how to raise your own chickens for meat! Or if raising chickens for meat isn’t for you, you can also learn how to utilize the entire chicken in your kitchen to save you money and help your family be a little bit greener!

<

A collage of pictures including strawberries in a bowl, forelenschuss lettuce, and a basket of eggs and lettuce harvest.

What plants do you look forward to most in spring?