Dear Aphids: POD Hates You

plants on deck aphids and waspsAs one of the only vegetable gardens in Pennsport, POD provides quite the haven for local pests. Each year POD struggles, and ultimately fails, to keep these suckers in check.

This year POD pulled out the stops with mulch, preventative organic sprays, squishing, leaf-soaking, and ultimately, chemical sprays. Can’t you tell? That is one messed up melon. One of these days, when this gardener has a garden that extends beyond pots, we’ll set some ladybugs free. (In the meantime, we’ll settle for not killing them.)

But for those gardeners just starting out, here’s an encyclopedia of aphid control options:

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Seeds, Seeds, Plants, and Seeds: Cucurbits

Cucumbers, oh, cucumbers. How we love thee.

  • Speedy Green Hybrid: Maybe a few cukes can be harvested in 42 days? Say, before the aphids attack? This is a biggie (12 x 60), so one per pot.
  • Supremo Hybrid: A little less huge, but still big (15 x 36). Prolific and disease resistant, thankyouverymuch.
  • General Lee: Yup, POD’s Minder is of the Dukes of Hazzard generation. Yup, Bo and Luke? Crushable. The Charger? Still wouldn’t kick it out of my garage (if I had one) for leaking oil 3_6_14genlee(a paint job, perhaps, yes). A disease-resistant cucumber named the General Lee? Yup. Sold. Thanks, Organic Gardening, for pointing this gynoecious paradox out!

Muskmelons! Such luciousness. And so many exciting new hybrids to try! (Side note: heirlooms are great, but will have to wait for the POD’s next, much-larger, raised-bed garden. Thanks for the courage, Michael Tortorello)

  • Honey Bun Hybrid: “Honey Bun is a real bush cantaloupe that is well suited for the smaller garden. The little melons are 5″ across with deep orange flesh and honey-sweet flavor. Each vine will produce 3 or 4 fruits.” That just about covers it.

Repurposing

repurposed tomato cages, melon trellisLast year plants on deck used tomato cages as a trellis for cucumbers and melons. While it seemed genius, it wasn’t, perhaps, an unqualified success as the 2010 cucurbits did sorta’ so-so. (Not enough air circulation, perhaps?)

It seems silly to waste the investment; so last year’s cages were snipped and spread open to provide large surface areas for the Adam F-1 Cucumber, Orange Hybrid Melon (to be called C. Borealis from here on out, thanks Bethysmalls), and White Wonder Cucumbers to roam. The sharp edges were turned to help train the vigorous vines and to help protect a certain accident-prone gardener. (One whose motto is: “if you haven’t bled on it, it’s not a success.”) An excellent use of unused garden crap, right?

Yeah, there are two C. Boreali in one pot — likely a mistake — but someone couldn’t bring themselves to snip out the oh-so-healthy vine.