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June 25, 2013 / 74

Garden Got Some Bugs? Got Some Answers!

It has been a while since I posted a garden article… mostly because we went from winter directly into “close the ark door” mode. Now we’re oscillating between “keep your face pointed down so you won’t drown” and “Hydrate!!! Lest you dry up and blow away in the heat!”

Yep… the weather around here has been kinda spotty – which means we’ve been scrambling to keep up with things. But we’re up to 18.9″ of rain so far this year… can’t complain!

I got the main garden weeded and hoed, then it rained for two days and now it has to be done all over again – the hoeing, not the raining. Somewhere in there the corn on the hill finally came up, then the sun came out and turned the clay dirt it’s planted in into a concrete corn and weed parking lot. Have you ever tried to hoe concrete? You just kinda scrape it like as if you were shaving it, only the weeds are usually lots fatter than whiskers (except for the grass, which bends and refuses to be cut unless your hoe is razor sharp – which means sharpening it every tenth stroke).

So through it all, the broccoli and cabbage grew, and the nasty little white cabbage worm butterflies showed up and bestowed their usual bounty of eggs to hatch the usual plague of nasty green worms to eat both plant types, the flea beetles put in an appearance and attacked the potato leaves and the raddishes, and, new this year, the Cabbage Seedpod Weevils attacked the cabbage leaves, the broccoli leaves, and the raddishes.

(If you were a reader last year, you may remember that we bought some guinea hens to eat the flea beatles… that didn’t work out so well. There’s too much food around that they don’t have to fly over a fence to get.)

Yep. It never rains but that it pours… too bad all these bugs aren’t edible food beloved by rich people… I’d make a fortune!

So… “and the last shall be first.”

Cabbage Seed Pod Weevils.

Being a new pest to me, I looked them over carefully. Seeing weevils (I know a weevil when I see one) I noted their size, shape and color. they were tiny (about 1/8 of an inch), weevil shaped with tiny pointy heads and a long proboscus, and gray… dull dull gray. Almost a battleship gray. And then I looked them up on the internet. It seems they are a gift to America from Europe, granted without restraint in the 1990’s. They apparently rode to the Land of Cabbage and Canola (Canada) in Canola seeds. Thank you once again GMO industry!!!

So I looked to see how to get rid of them, and saw list after list after list of chemicals and pesticides. Hey! Come ON people!!! I want to EAT these plants! So I kept looking and finally saw an article that would work for me.

So – Bug One – How to Get Rid of Cabbage Seed Pod Weevils

1. Find a bright yellow bowl.

Since yellow tablewear is apparently not in vogue this year, I could not find any – so I made some. I used those plastic left-over storage bowls (cheap) and selected the 4 or 5 inch size. I used round ones – but I don’t think the shape matters. (If you use square bowls and they don’t work, I’d appreciate a comment!)

2. Find a can of bright yellow paint.

I used enamel spray paint. The paint stuck pretty well until it had been in the weather for a couple of weeks and then it started to peel off of the plastic… re-apply as needed. Let the paint dry completely.

3. Get ahold of some standard liquid dish soap.

Put a quarter teaspoon or a tablespoon of the soap into the bowl, then put plain water into the bowl to make a soapy solution. The function of the soap isn’t to poison anything, as it won’t. The function of the soap is to break the surface tension of the water. Then you set the bowl in the row or in the gap between rows and go away.

Here’s how I think it works – The weevils see the bowl, probably think it’s a HUGE canola blossom, and gleefully dive into the center of it to lay some eggs. (Just guessing about the seeing and the glee parts.) Once they hit the water, they’re toast. The lack of surface tension will keep them from being able to swim or float, so they sink… and drown.

I tried this on a small scale first – one ceramic yellow bowl – and began by knockinig about 15 bugs into it – just to get things started. (Everybody likes a party!) I set the bowl down and the next morning had over 40 bugs in it. I set out four more bowls to cover about 120 row feet (in 40 foot sections) of plants and the raddishes and within two days there were NO MORE WEEVILS ON THE PLANTS!!! They were all in the bowls. The raddish leaves were still covered with weevil bite holes. After two days, no more weevils. After a week, whole unhole-ee leaves presented themselves and the raddishes grew faster.

Bug Two – Flea Beetles

These pests are tiny black dots on the leaves of your plants. If you wave your hand close to them, they’ll jump off the plant like ordinary fleas. They eat tiny holes in the leaves and eventually shred them. Since the plants get their food from the leaves, the plants eventually either die, or just don’t do very well.

These guys were LOTS easier to deal with! Get a good fine mist spray bottle. (No – the cheap ones at wally world will NOT work. They jam up with the bits in the solution you’re going to mix.) Get you a bottle of good hot tabasco sauce!!!!! (FIVE exclaimation point hot!) Put a couple of teaspoons in the bottle and fill it with water, shake it up, and you’re ready to go. Apply the mixture liberally to whatever plants are being attacked and watch the flea beetles hop away!!! (They’re not slow about it, either!)

Two things more about this remedy – 1. if it’s windy, or even if it’s not, you’ll want to wear some kind of eye protection or squint really tight ’cause tabasco sauce BURNS when you spray it in your eyes. I mean, you’re spraying home made PEPPER spray, fa gosh sakes! Ow, ow, ow! 2. You’ll have to reapply after it rains as the stuff gets washed off. Just do as you should be doing anyway – keep an active eye on your plants. If you see a re-infestation, reapply.

This remedy can also be applied to tomatoes and other plants to get rid of other pests. I’m trying it on those pesky cabbage worms… I just sprayed a few of the plants today. Since I evicted the little tiny rabbit that was eating the beans, I don’t know if it would work on rabbits – I mean they might LIKE it… (Beans replanted and doing fine.)

Bug three – Cabbage Worms

As above, I’m trying to see if the tabasco sauce will work on them. Otherwise it’s the old fashioned way – which is to lift each leaf morning and evening and look for the “inch worms” and their older siblings, the green worms – then pick them off and either drop them in the yellow bowls (where they will drown) or if you’re not too squeamish just pinch them to death (SQUISH!) and wipe the resulting goo on whatever is handy – pants, paper towel, whatever. (There shouldn’t BE any grass around!)

And that’s the current roll call of bugs… and what you can do about them.

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One Comment

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  1. Anonymous / Jun 25 2013 21:47

    Hey Mike, thanks for the bug tips and the story line as well.
    Harry Q.

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