Eldorado vegetable pest lecture

tomato hornworm revealed

Tomato Hornworm revealed-such a good camouflage artist!

Gave several garden lectures this week. The first lecture was on pests in the garden at this time of year out in the Eldorado Community Garden on Monday August 3. What a lovely garden! I hadn’t been out there for several years and it has expanded and is very beautiful right now (especially with all these rains).

There were lots of questions on gophers, squirrels, aphids, tomato hornworms, cabbage loopers, grasshoppers and other insect pests that are around now and organic control of them. We talked about all these pests and it’s amazing that any plants survive!

Attached are the handouts I gave out at the lecture:

CLass pests pics

ORGANIC INSECTICIDE CONTROLS

ORGANIC DISEASE CONTROLS

Here is some more info:

HOW TO CONTROL:

gopherstrap ’em. Sorry but it’s too hard to grow crops here anyways and to see an 18 yr old apple tree decimated from gophers is a travesty. Gophers are very territorial so you might not have as many as you think. Usually there are only between 2-4 gophers on a property.

squirrels-sprinkle fox urine granules around your garden (not coyote urine granules or human urine as one person asked)

aphidsAZAMAX-a new organic product available only at Newmans.  AzaMax is made from special Azadirachtin Technical extracted using patented extraction technology from the Neem tree but is not Neem oil.  The first week of Azamax applications will pretty much stop the reproduction of spider mites, aphids, or other pests.  You need to reapply Azamax to your plants every 7-14 days for a few times. Helps disrupt eating and mating.  You will then see dead aphids on your plants but they will not be eating them so you need to rinse off before eating your crops. Do not spray in middle of day when it’s hot as it can burn your plants. In fact, it’s good to spray this and Neem in the evening before dark. That way the plants won’t get burned and the bees have gone back to their hive (you don’t want a direct hit on bees) and by morning when it’s dry, it’s fine for bees to be around, just not when it’s wet. I can’t wait to try this on some kale that has them now. A landscaper friend who uses it in her gardens, showed me the dead aphids on her plum tree and it worked. Wish I had it back when the aphids were bad on the fruit trees earlier this year!

Tomato hornworms-handpick or if you have a heavy infestation, use Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis). Just call it Bt when you ask for it at the nurseries.  It wrecks havoc with their digestive system. Is harmless to all other animals but deadly for caterpillars.

Cabbage loopers-a caterpillar that eats greens, lettuce, cole crops, kale, etc. Use Bt for all caterpillar problems.

Grasshoppers-use NOLO Bait or Semaspore. Same thing, different manufacturers. The problem is most people wait till they are inundated with grasshoppers and then say NOLO bait doesn’t work. Not true. You just need to start much earlier in the season because it takes about 3 weeks+ for it to work and it is not as effective once the baby hopper grow up. Plus you need to refrigerate NOLO. If you have lots of adult grasshoppers now, put row cover over your crops to act as a physical barrier between the hopper and your plants. I noticed last year when I had hoppers that they were gone in 3 weeks and I heard they won’t be as bad the next year as they did not lay eggs and this must be true as I’ve only seen one or two this year. Not harmful to other animals, bees, mammals or birds.

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Master Gardener Intern Class-Vegetables

I’ve been totally busy teaching classes lately and the last class I taught was the Santa Fe Master Gardener Intern Class on Vegetables. All I can say to the interns is hang in there. Yes there are some difficult classes to get through but there are some great instructional classes as well that are like a breath of fresh air. It wasn’t till I became a Master Gardener that I really blossomed as a gardener. And now I am a rabid gardener! The knowledge you will continue to gain afterwards, the contacts, camaraderie and friendships you will develop will help you grow as well as the plants you will be growing! Hopefully you enjoyed and learned a lot from the Vegetable class. (Yes it was my favorite class when I was an intern!) So for those of you who couldn’t come to class or aren’t in the program but are interested, here are the information sheets. I want to make them available to all.

VEGETABLE GARDENING IN SANTA FE  gives an overview of vegetable gardening in Santa Fe.

INFORMATION SHEET covers what the differences are  between an Heirloom, Hybrid and GMO plant and explains what mycorrhizae fungi is and how it helps plants grow.

HERBS is a list of perennial and annual herbs we can grow here in Santa Fe.

PLANTING TOMATOES and PLANTING SQUASH both address how to transplant them into the garden and some of the things I add to help grow these beautiful vegetables and also how to help thwart the dreaded squash vine borer and squash bugs.

SEED STARTING DATE CALCULATOR from Johnny’s Seeds is the same one from the previous post but if you didn’t read it, then here it is. A great tool for when to start seeds or transplant them into the garden.

And now if you will excuse me, I will continue starting my seeds inside! Perfect day-cold, windy and snowy!

Giant Pumpkins on July 26, 2011

The pumpkin patch is filling in  quite nicely but not quite full yet. Look at those big gorgeous leaves-more leaves, more food for the pumpkins! Notice the row cover on the ground in the background. I’m trying to keep the pumpkins uncovered more since it has cooled down and starting the monsoon season.  I don’t want to promote fungal diseases by keeping them damp and covered. The plants need to dry out between showers. I keep the actual small giant pumpkin fruit covered in heavy row cover and burlap to shade them out of the sun and keep the squirrel off them. I want their skin soft while they are young. Too much sun hardens them up and slows growth.

So far I have 3 little GIANT PUMPKINS (one is growing quite fast) on the 895 Grande plant, none on the 1048 Grande plant (I accidently broke two female flowers off the main vine and a squirrel ate the only pollinated one) on that plant.

I have 2 pollinated ‘GREENIE’ female blossoms (we’ll have to wait to see if the pollination ‘took’ on them but they had the biggest stigmas on both female flowers I’ve ever seen in my giant pumpkin career-4 years. lol. I hope they took as I’ve never grown GREEN PUMPKIN LIKE SQUASH before.

I also have quite a few GIANT MARROWS going (thank god as the squirrel ate one of those too) on the 78 giant marrow plant. The other giant marrow is now just starting to produce more female flowers-the boyz and the beesz are just waiting for them to be ready! I don’t hand pollinate the giant marrows-I let the beez do it. I don’t worry about the marrows cross pollinating with the pumpkins because the pumpkins are in the Curcubita Maxima family and the giant marrows are in the Curcubita Pepo family so they can’t accidentally cross.

I have one more plant in the pumpkin patch and that is a GIANT PEAR GOURD. I haven’t talked much about it yet as it isn’t very big compared to the other gorillas in the patch but it is flowering and I hope the bees pollinated it. It has beautiful soft fuzzy leaves and tendrils and likes the heat.

As for that squirrel, I’m trying fox urine granules that I bought at Agua Fria Nursery. I sprinkle it every 3 feet all around the perimeter of the garden (like marking my territory and also around each plant). OMG that is stinky stuff. I sure hope it works because tonight I will leave everything uncovered in the pumpkin patch. Wish me luck the stuff works and the squirrel doesn’t have a feast..

How to control squash bugs

Squash bug adult-photo courtesy University of Minnesota

Well it’s that time of year-Squash bugs Ughh! You can control squash bugs in your organic garden. Here are some ORGANIC things you can do to deter squash bugs:

-Plant a crop late in the season if possible. Many areas of the country only have one generation of squash bugs and if you plant later you may miss them. If you live in the south where they have 2 generations, read on..

squash bug nymphs-photo courtesy University of Minnesota

Cover your plants with row cover to keep them off. This works beautifully but you may have to piece some row covers together to cover some of the larger plants. I use clothes pins to clip them together.

-Use Neem. It is an organic pesticide (and an added benefit is a fungicide). It must be sprayed very early before the bees come out or at dusk when they aren’t around as it won’t hurt them if it is not a direct hit as they only visit the flowers and it is a contact spray. I think it mostly helps deter the squash bug.

squash bug eggs

-Inspection, hand picking and kill the little buggars. (now you know how strongly I feel about them) By far the most labor intensive but very effective. I hate to handle squash bugs (or any bug-I’m squeamish) so I use gloves, a bucket of soapy water (it drowns them) and inspect each leaf underneath to look for nymphs, eggs, or adults. The adults I throw in the soapy water and if a leaf is really loaded with nymphs, I cut it off and throw it in the soapy water otherwise I just squish them. For the eggs  (they are a cluster of rust colored eggs attached to the underneath side of the leaves) I usually just tear off  or cut out that portion of the leaf (it won’t hurt it) and throw them into the soapy water. The key to keeping it under control, is to catch them before they multiply too much. I looked up the life cycle online of the squash but and it goes from egg to nymph in 7-10 days so if you get out there every 7 days you will catch them before they get out of control and multiply. Most people wait too late. Get out there and look at your plants!

-Companion planting. I think it was in ‘Organic Gardening Magazine that I read under ‘letter to the editors’, that a lady wrote in to say that you could deter squash bugs on pumpkins, winter squash, summer squash and marrows with diluted/strained onion juice. Evidently just grind one or two up, put it in gallon of water and strain the onions out so your sprayer doesn’t clog. Well she went on to write that doing that was too much work and she plants onions bulbs with her squash every year and hasn’t seen a squash bug since. Well I did the same for my summer squashes, but not for my winter squashes. There have been no squash bugs on the summer squash but I found one on the marrow which means there will be more. I told one of friends that owns a garden nursery about the onions and he said it was too late to plant onions but he was going to throw some chopped onions out in his patch. I’m doing the same today for the marrow and winter squash and will let you know what happens! It can’t hurt and maybe it’ll work!

Lettuce patch update

lettuce patch shade cover

Here is my shade cloth over the lettuce patch. I also am going to put bird netting around the raised bed to keep out the rabbits. This morning I  thinned again (third time) my romaine (now 5 inches tall) and butter lettuce about 5 inches tall). I want to see if I get some big heads of romaine and butter heads but it is a lot of work always thinning them to make room for them to grow.  I am hoping the butter lettuce won’t bolt with the warm weather.

looper and lettuce damage

closeup of lettuce looper

I also found some small loopers (caterpillars) on some of the lettuce so I will spray with BT (Bacillus thuringiensis) today-an organic pesticide that won’t hurt bees or birds or humans and is specific to gets rid of caterpillars that do damage on our crops. Notice the holes in the lettuce and the little dark spots are frasse (poop). So if you see frasse- look for the loopers.

A few of the arugula are bolting but it bolts with the first bit of warm weather. I’m giving everything that bolts and the ends with roots to the chickens. I also picked Provencal lettuce mesclun which is wonderful and easy. I didn’t have to thin but one time. That plus you just cut off the tops of the lettuces and waa laa-instant salad. It should comeback 3 or more times. I am putting a shade cloth over the bed as I had some friends tell me they were able to have lettuce in the summer with it over them.

I also tried a new spinach for me called Bordeaux which I am very disappointed with. Very small leaves are sorta wimpy-not much there so I’m going to try some summer type of spinach that supposedly won’t bolt and have bigger more succulent leaves. Gonna try Tyee spinach. Suppose to resist bolting in the heat.

Lastly, pick your lettuce first thing in the morning after watering it the night before. To clean lettuce after I thin it, I pull it out roots and all and cut off the leaves above the the dirt and roots-less rinsing. Then in the kitchen I put it in some bowls of clean water to move debris and use a salad spinner to remove excess water. I put the lettuce  into a zip loc freezer bag with a damp paper towel folded up. This help keep it from getting limp.