Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Discovering a Natural Pest Control

Our garden has been taken over by aphids (mostly harmless) and squash bugs (vile, nasty creatures who spook even me.) Unfortunately, we ignored them for a bit too long and now we have a real problem that might result in the death and destruction of our zucchini plants.

We knew that we wanted to do something to eradicate these pests without the use of nasty chemicals on the food we have worked so hard to grow, so we went to the local nursery and picked up some of nature's pest control: ladybugs and praying mantis.

I was disappointed to find that the praying mantises won't hatch from their egg sack for two weeks, when we need them to eat our squash bugs yesterday. The good news is that we are having lots of fun checking the sack every day for signs of a breakout. We anticipate around 300 baby praying m's when that day comes. Hurray!

The ladybugs were another story, however. We followed the instructions of the people at the nursery. We waited until bedtime (hence the pajamas) and watered the garden well, then released the ladybugs. The boys, who are not as avid bug fans and many kids out there, really enjoyed having the little beauties crawling all over them. They discovered it was a great day for a feast and went right to work on those aphids.

Thank goodness that we haven't seen any more of these wretched things--a few weeks ago, one turned up in our garden and we were bracing ourselves for an infestation of man-eating tomato-eating horn worms. (picture borrowed from the internet) These things are enormous (the one we caught was longer and thicker than my middle finger) and look like something from another planet.

We are loving the free produce and the tomatoes that make our salsa taste like it has sugar in it! We have plans to grow many more new fruits and vegetables in our expanded garden next year.


Nana said...

I am so proud of Tiger Academy for not giving up on the garden. It is exciting to plant, and see the first shoots come up. After the initial harvest, it can become old - and many gardens languish in late summer. What will you plant next year?

Michal said...

next year? our plan is to do more tomatoes (we've had just enough to keep us in fresh salsa, tomato sandwiches, and great salads, but we'd like some marinara to can), zucchini, crookneck, japanese eggplant, persian cukes, a bell pepper (which this year didn't produce--it was dwarfed by the tomatoes and didn't get enough sun), a chili for better salsa, corn, snap peas, boysenberries, and a melon or two. and more herbs. and if we can make room for more, we'll plant strawberries and pumpkins. and we'll try the carrots again--this year they weren't great.