Browsing Archives for Garden

This was my favorite stand.

It had the prettiest design…

And also – the best costumes.

At first I didn’t know what this vegetable was.

I thought maybe they were exotic carrots.

Or petite beets.

Or tiny red rutabagas!

But then I read the sign.

“Radishes” it said.

Sometimes I have a tendency to over think things a little bit.

Hey!  I told you it was exciting!

Happy Fourth of July!

Squash Bug Menace!

June 30th, 2010

They’re heeeeeeeerrrrrrrreeeeee!


I have squash bugs.

Everywhere.

Ev.

Ree.

Where.

I figured I would get them as last year’s cucumbers suffered a late season attack that obliterated the entire crop in a matter of days. I didn’t really mind though, because by then, I was sick of cucumbers. But I knew that the bugs would overwinter, so I moved my cucumber patch to the other side of the garden and began to regularly dose my garden with some preventative homemade garlic spray.  Unfortunately, I made the mistake of planting some pumpkins very near to last year’s cucumber spot, not realizing  that squash bugs like pumpkins EVEN MORE than cucumbers.  It’s their favorite!  So this Spring, they crawled out of the ground and found a lovely condo with a gorgeous view and a loaded fridge next door!

I could have done more to limit the overwintering impact of these horrible bugs.  I should have removed the old vines from my garden last Fall, instead of waiting until this Spring.  Ultimately, I think I might skip cucurbit type crops next year (pumpkins, squash, cucumbers) and see if I can get the squash bugs to pack up and go in search of someone else’s pumpkin patch.  In the meantime, here are a few of the methods that I have employed to get rid of them.

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Melt Them and Vigilance…

I got down on my hands and knees and looked for the bugs. I got familiar with my garden on a new level. Instead of just looking at it from above, I looked at it from below and behind, beside and underneath.  I parted vines and moved leaves.  I searched and scanned the nooks and crannies. During my searches, I noted a few cucumber beetles, their yellow and black ‘plumage’ undeniable.  When I found them, I went out and bought some neem oil as cucumber beetles laugh in the face of my homemade garlic spray.  The neem oil is also supposedly a deterrent for squash bugs too as they don’t like the taste and it also breaks down their exoskeleton.  Basically, it melts them.

Soak Your Elbow in Windex…

I have been spraying the neem oil once a week in a concoction of my own design which is basically a tablespoon of neem, a tablespoon of garlic oil and a few squirts of dish-soap. I mix this all in a ‘Glass Plus” container hoping for whatever residual effects might be in the infamous window cleaner bottle as I distinctly remember the scene in My Greek Wedding where the protagonist’s father is soaking his elbow in a bowl of Windex while insisting that the magic blue liquid is a cure-all for everything.  (I do realize that Glass Plus is no Windex, but surely there is some overlap in the miracle producing qualities of the two cleaners.)

Handpick, Shudder, Handpick, Shudder…

I’ve also been ‘handpicking’ the bugs. A disgusting part of my job as a gardener whereby I hunt around for these wretched grayish bugs and pick them off (using a leaf as a sort of glove) and then I squish them inside the leaf, shudder violently and fling the flattened bug and leaf away in a sort of panicked induced delirium. Then I shudder again (violently), grimace and wonder how the hell I ever got myself into this horrifying predicament.  Then I find another bug and squish, fling, find, squish, fling, find.  It is an endless cycle of horror, recovery and horror again, further proving my theory that gardening is only for the mentally unstable.

Room and BOARD!

I put some old boards down in the pumpkin and squash patch as squash bugs like to congregate underneath things.  It makes the find part of the whole ‘find, squish, fling’ thing a little easier.

Go for the Twofer…

They mate back to back… or rather… end to end. One bug has to walk backwards while the other walks forwards with their two ‘tails’ attached. I don’t know which bug is which…who gets to move forward while the other gets dragged behind and I honestly don’t care. I only know that killing two squash bugs at the same time due to the fact that they are connected by their butts is a total bonus. Evidently, squash bugs like to mate around 3:00 in the afternoon (Is that when all the kids are down for naps?) so if I venture out to the garden at that time, I will probably be more likely to get more ‘twofers’ for my efforts.

Flood Their Homes…

I lay a garden hose at the base of my squash plants and the pooling water causes the squash bugs to climb to higher ground.  This allows me to find, squish and shudder a bit easier.

Blow the little suckers up!

I also have been removing any leaves that have eggs on them. Sometimes I remove the entire leaf, and sometimes I tear off the segment with the eggs on it. I give the leaves to the boys and tell them to destroy them. They happily take the leaves over to the driveway and find new and inventive ways to blow the eggs up with their fireworks stash. I also smash the leaves into oblivion with my feet, drown them in cups of water and hurl them into the pond.

Occasionally at the end of a squash bug patrol, I am so sick of it all, that I just start smashing the eggs with my bare thumb.  Then I wonder what I am turning into?  Some sort of callous, indelicate human that can smash insect eggs with her bare skin and not even flinch?  What is happening to me?  What if there comes a point where I can pick up a squash bug without a leaf?  What if I start smashing squash bugs with my bare fingers?  What happens next?  Do I cease to use a napkin at dinner?  Do I start drinking milk straight from the jug placing the empty container back in the fridge?  Do I pile old magazines in the bathroom in place of toilet paper?  What kind of madness is this?  Then I start flinching and stammering and my eyelid starts to spasm and my teeth start to ache and I rush into the house and take a scalding shower and rinse myself off in industrial bleach and suddenly I feel much better.

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I am far from winning the war on these bugs.  But I am determined to give it my best shot.

Squash bugs are stealthy, impervious, they multiply like rabbits and are hard to kill with anything other than squashing them.

And they stink when you squash them.

On the other hand, I am stubborn, angry, bitter, and generally hacked off.

And I smell like industrial bleach.

I think these bugs have met a worthy adversary.

We’ll see who wins.

Some kind of spider sucks the head off of a squash bug.

Yay some kind of spider!

Is it just me…

 

 

 

 

 

Or does anyone else think that sunflowers seem just a little more human than your typical flower…

 

 

 

 

 

Is she bowing to her partner?  Or is she critically assessing the shovel’s shoes?

 

 

 

I am a Kansas girl and I love sunflowers.  I can’t help it.  If Dinosaurs came from birds… and people came for apes… than Kansans came from sunflowers.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunflowers speak of my state, my home, my high plains stompin’ grounds like no other plant ever could…

Well… except maybe wheat… but wheat doesn’t seem like it’s alive does it?

Or does it?

 

 

 

Even on bad hair days…

 

 

 

 

 

The sunflower seems to look at you…

 

 

 

 

And watch you as they follow the sun throughout the day…

 

 

 

 

They make me feel like someone is listening to me when I am muttering to myself in the garden.

 

 

 

Helping me on my way to a full blown nutter.  

Send a bouquet of sunflowers to the asylum for me will you?

They will make me feel not so all alone.