May 8, 2010

Early May Garden Worries

So far so good in terms of the "old" seeds sprouting to life. I am quite pleased. The beets, arugula and radishes have all come up nicely. I'm pretty sure that carrots, cilantro, dill, shallots, onions and parsley all take a bit longer so I'm not too worried that I haven't seen signs of life in those rows yet.

Meanwhile, I've got a new/old pest to contend with: flea beetles. I don't think there's much I can do. Frankly, I'm amazed at the lengths I go to (or at least consider) to keep the pests at bay and the minimal impact my efforts actually seem to have on the pest population. Let's run down the assorted critters and issues I've got on my mind in these early planting days of May:

1) Cutworms - these are my enemies from way back. I try to make a habit of turning over the soil as late as I can in the fall to expose any larvae to the elements and then again in early spring. That seems to have worked the past few years, but if it's not that cold (like now) I worry.

2) Bunnies - I am not sure it's rabbits, but in the past, something has gotten to my lettuce and chomped off a whole lot of it in the early growth stages. Same as last year, I brushed the dog living in my house (new roommate = new dog) and tied a bunch of his hair together with a string and hung it over where the lettuce is growing. I have no idea if this will really work, but it's easy enough to do.

3) Flea Beetles - I am honestly shocked at how quickly they started eating little holes through my teeny tiny arugula seedlings. I really haven't figured out anything to keep them away and I can still eat the holey arugula, but it's infuriating to see the damage and feel powerless to stop it. I suppose I could try some really thin sheets of fabric that allows the sun through, but it seems so large-scale farm-like for a little plot in a community garden.

4) Cucumber Beetles - I always get them and I definitely hate them. They don't come until later in the season, but I'm growing at least 2 things just for them: radishes (supposedly repel them) and dill (supposedly attract helpful bugs that eat cucumber beetles)

5) Leaf Miners - These guys REALLY piss me off. I've never actually seen one of the bugs, but they spend their time eating through the middle of beet leaves (and chard and other leafy greens) making them ugly and inedible. I can usually eat the beets, but it doesn't make me hate the Leaf Miners any less. I mentioned this problem to one of the staff at Allandale farm last year who suggested taking a year off the beets, but I just couldn't do it. This year I'm planting them in a new spot, in between rows of radishes and onions and hoping for the best.

6) Wasps - these are new for me, and they've been back since my last post. I don't know if I really want to go to all the trouble of installing a fake wasp nest to deter them, but I am not pleased to have wasps hanging out right in my plot. Flying around in general is ok, but within easy stinging distance all the time....I'm not into that.

The pick up for Revision House seedlings is next weekend, so I'm excited to get a lot more in the ground. It's been so warm, it might even be safe to put in tomatoes!


Eric Schumacher said...

Hey Black Eyed Susan,

I know these pests can be a real pain but one of our clients makes a great product to deal with them. Spectracide put together a host of online resources to help defend against these unwelcome guests, including:

Guides on how to eliminate common weeds, outdoor bugs, ants and termites (

Spectracide Solutions Center, an interactive resource for protecting an entire home or targeting problem areas (

Webisodes on Facebook, some with DIY guru Joe Washington (

As a gardening enthusiast, I hope you will take a look at these resources and consider sharing them with your blog’s readers. If you would like more information on the guides, survey results and lawn and garden care tips, I can include our press release document which gives all the details. I would also be thrilled to send samples of Spectracide products for you to try. Thanks very much for your time!

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Window On The Prairie said...

Sorry about your pest problem. We had bunnies over the winter that ate liberally of my rosebushes. But our garden is doing well so far. We had our first salad last night. I was so excited I did a blog post.
Happy Spring!

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Compost said...

I feel for you. I have an acre market garden / urban farm and I've been having serious pest issues this year. Once it warms up, though, they're sure to go away. Persevere!

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