Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Garden Update

I am having a frustrating week in the garden.  We  are having nightly thunderstorms and last night's storm knocked over some of the corn.  This morning I moved some of the soil up around the base of the plants to help, but I am not sure it will work. I may have to stake them until the plants are bigger and the severe thunderstorms pass.

I am also having problems with green beans.  I have ants herding aphids and they are everywhere.  (The aluminum foil works wonders on most pests but unfortunately, it has no effect on ants or aphids.) Eliminating this problem requires two steps: get rid of the ants and get rid of the aphids.  Each problem requires a different solution.

The aphids are easier to eliminate and keep off. This is because tomato plant  leaves have toxins in them that kill aphids. The toxin won't harm beneficial bugs, pets or humans. (Well, as long as you don't ingest it.); but to the aphid bug, it is toxic. You can use the toxin as a natural pesticide. Here is how you make it:

Chop enough tomato leaves to make two cups. I prefer not to chop with a good knife or use a cutting board so I cut them with scissors. Don't chop the stems - this works best with just the leaves.

Making an insecticide with tomato leaves.

Soak the leaves in two cups of water.  It is best to soak them overnight. If the aphid infestation is severe and you can't wait for the tomato leaves to soak overnight, spray them off with a blast of water while you are making this insecticide. 

After soaking, the water will turn brown. Strain the leaf pulp from the liquid and discard the leaves. I used some garden insect fabric so I could just toss it when I was finished. It is dark at the bottom of this picture, but you might be able to notice how brown the water is after soaking overnight.

After straining, pour the liquid into a spray bottle.  Add an equal amount of water.  My spray bottles are small and they only have a two cup capacity.  So, I added one cup of the tomato leaf liquid and one cup of water. Now, add a few drops of liquid dishwashing liquid and you are ready to spray on the aphids. Be sure to always label your bottles for safety.

This can be used on any plant but I am only going to spray the green beans. As I mentioned in previous posts, I had an aphid problem on the grapes as well. However, that problem was solved by the ladybugs that made my backyard their new home.

I found what I needed to take care of the ants at a visit to a garden center.  This is what I bought.

Diatomaceous Earth is extremely effective on any crawling insect. However, it is only effective as long as it stays dry.  After it rains, you will need to re-apply it. Sprinkle it around the base of each plant.  Make a ring around the plant so that the ants will contact it if they try to climb the plant. As long as you don't breath it in or get it in your eyes, it is safe for humans and pets. You can even purchase food grade diatomaceous earth and use it in your food storage grain buckets to keep the bugs out. This box is not food grade quality.

While these organic bug solutions may take a bit more work to make and apply, I definitely think it is worth the time if keeps the garden bug free without chemicals!

On a good note, the strawberries continue to flower and I am also still picking blueberries. I apologize that the blueberries in the picture are a little hard to see.

The strawberries are still flowering.

 We are still picking blueberries.

 The peanuts are now flowering.  The picture below shows Spanish peanuts. You can see some of the yellow flowers at the bottom of the picture. The Virginia Jumbo peanut seeds I purchased this year were bad.  They didn't germinate at all.  So the few Virginia Jumbo peanuts I do have growing are from last year.  I am going to have to save them all for next year's seed so I do not have to purchase additional peanut seed next year.  I also had a bit of a germination problem with the Spanish peanuts. The germination rate on the Spanish peanuts was about 60%.  That is what I get for purchasing seed from a company I didn't know! 

Peanuts are flowering.

Everything else in the garden is doing very well.  The tobacco is getting tall.  I will take a picture of it when I transplant it to the front yard landscaping. The squash is producing like gang busters! I have lots of tomatoes and the pumpkin vines have almost reached the corn!

If you are having a gardening problem you can't solve, email me or comment below.  I would be happy to help!

Happy Gardening!

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