Bug Week!

LadybugAfter spending so much time on nasty, awful, horrible, stinky, invasive, crop-killing pests, it’s time to give a shout-out to all the good bugs out there. Please welcome Ms. Lady. ladybug

This little lady beetle was enjoying the lush green basil (which happens to be pest free) so she was moved over to the aphid-infested boothby blonde cucumber to work her aphid-eating magic.

More Stinky News

From Rutgers:

Thank you for posting a sighting of BMSB on our website. We are collecting specimens for research on the spread of this invasive species. If possible, please send live specimens to the address below (Attn: BMSB Sightings). Containers such as plastic medicine bottles or film containers work well.

For answers to many common questions please see our new FAQ Section:

https://njaes.rutgers.edu/stinkbug/faq.asp

For control recommendations please see the link below. If you have any further questions feel free to email them.

Thank you

http://njaes.rutgers.edu/stinkbug/control.asp

Bug Mystery Solved, Unfortunately

Thanks to Plants on Deck’s gardening buddy BH and the magical Rutgers Cooperative Extension, the mystery has been solved.

BH commented, “They also look not unlike the malicious Brown Marmorated Stink Bug which Brendan Skwire over at Brendan Calling wrote about for City Paper earlier this year. If so, sound the alarms!”

POD’s little pesties looked precisely like the creepy crawlies featured in Skwire’s CP article and hatched forth from a clutch of precisely 28 eggs…just as Rutgers suggested.

Consider the alarm sounded. The sighting has been reported and photos have been forwarded to Rutgers. Sigh.

Where There’s Smoke

Aphids and AntsThere’s sure to be a fire.

In this case, long trails of ants paint a smoky trail to the real hot menace: aphids.

By themselves, ants don’t pose all that much of a threat. Sadly, this rarely means one can rest easy. Nature, the wonderful beast that she is, always has a plan. You see, ants like to feed on the sweet stuff (honeydew) that aphids excrete — which means the army ants protect the aphids from natural predators. Which means lots of aphids.

Lots of aphids means that great quantities of sap is slurped from leaves, leaving them curled, dessicated, and unhappy. As if that isn’t enough, aphids may also contribute to the spread of cucumber mosaic virus.

Ants and Aphids
Hi, I'm an aphid. Click on my picture. It's worth it to see my antennae and cornicles.

So, yeah, it’s important to get rid of the sap suckers.

The best method for removing aphids (supposedly) involves spraying the leaves with a steady stream of water to wash the aphids and honeydew from the leaves. Unfortunately, the little blue deck isn’t reachable by hose. Ladybugs love to eat aphids, but you could count the ladybugs this urban garden sees on your fingers.

So what’s a container gardener to do? These buggers, which may produce up to twelve off-spring per day, are tenacious. So, try fighting fire with fire.

POD’s Pest Potion:

  1. Combine 1 c. stems, seeds, leaves, flowers of thyme, lavender, and yarrow (handily, all are grown on or around POD) with
  2. A couple of tbs of coffee grounds
  3. Allow the herbs and coffee to steep for 24-hours
  4. Strain the solution, discarding or composting the herbs
  5. Add 1/4 c. milk to the solution and 1 tbs. natural dishwashing solution, castile soap, or Neem oil
  6. Pour the potion into a spray bottle
  7. Shake
  8. Spray the infected plants thoroughly, making sure you hit the undersides of the leaves

Next year, try planting chives, basil, mint, or marigolds alongside the cucubmers and melons to discourage infestation in the first place.

Good Greensgrow Growers

So, POD hasn’t been entirely happy with the whole alternating weeks of fish emulsion/worm casting tea fertilizing routine. All sorts of secondary deficiencies have been cropping up in POD’s ever-suffering tomatoes. Like magnesium (helped by the addition of epsom salts) and calcium (maybe, or maybe not helped by egg shells) deficiencies, and who knows what else.

A desperate plea was recently lodged with a charmingly hairy farmer guy at Greensgrow. He was incredibly helpful. He suggested this stuff:

Garden tone fertilizerHere’s hoping it works.