Monthly Archives: July 2013

Video Wednesday: Using Natural Pesticides

Since we’ve been talking about bugs and pests recently, I thought I would share this video from our Entomology Specialist, Dr. Ray Cloyd.

A Bug & Pest Round Up

All of a sudden last week the population of bugs, pests, and other problems seemed to explode in the Demo Garden!

All of a sudden near the end of last week the spider mites came on strong. This poor specimen is on the ‘Iron Lady’ tomato. It may be resistant to blight, but it is clearly NOT resistant to spider mites. There are several plants with varying numbers of spider mites on them, but this is one of the worst. The typical “first” line of defense is to spray with a hard stream of water. Given the humidity, the next option is neem oil, horticultural oil, or insecticidal soap. These products need to be sprayed every 5 days or so when it is hot, until new damage isn’t occurring. Unfortunately, is you spray when it is hot out, they can actually damage the plants, so you need to spray in early morning.

In the realm of four-legged, furry varmints, it appears that we have some critter that is enjoying the almost-ripe tomatoes. My guess would be a squirrel, because of the bite marks and also because we’ve had that problem before. The ants are just opportunists here!

I’ve also seen stinkbugs around the garden, which is an insect we don’t normally see a lot. Here’s a stinkbug on one of the cherry tomatoes.

Here’s another look at a stinkbug, this time on one of the eggplants. Stinkbugs are “true bugs,” and they feed on plants and fruit by puncturing and then sucking out the juices. On tomato fruit you will often find yellow or white spots just under the skin where they have been feeding. They don’t damage the edibility, just the prettiness. They can be pretty destructive though given a high enough population. They can also feed on the plants themselves and can have similar effects to aphids and spider mites. How to get rid of them? Well…it depends what you are willing to do. The reality is that it is pretty difficult to kill those hard-backed bugs. Since we aren’t seeing very many of them, we aren’t going to do much at the moment, which we will probably regret in a few weeks.

Here’s what the stinkbug damage looks like on a tomato. The tomato is still perfectly edible, it just looks kind of ugly.

The Arkansas Traveler tomatoes all of a sudden are showing these “crop circles” on the fruit. To me, this looks like Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus. The plant doesn’t look particularly bad, although I commented earlier on the fruit being smaller than advertised. A virus would partially explain that. There is perhaps a little bit of necrosis (dead areas on leaves) at the shoot tips. The question is how it got the virus. This virus is typically transmitted by thrips in a greenhouse. Well, this plant was raised in my office, and I don’t think there were any thrips or infected plants for the thrips to pick up the virus. My guess would be that it was infected with the virus outside, either by thrips that picked up the virus last year and overwintered or infected thrips that were on one of the plants that did come from a greenhouse. At any rate, there’s nothing we can do about it now.

This is a pepper with a bad case of sunscald. Typically tomatoes and peppers are the most susceptible to sunscald, especially when there is lots of hot, bright sun. Keeping plants healthy with lots of leaf cover is the best option. Some varieties are better than others as far as shading fruit. At other times if you are having a very severe problem, providing a little additional shade would be the only option, which can sometimes be a logistical challenge in a garden!

Our sunflowers in the Kids Snack Garden are getting rather holey and spotted leaves. On examination, I found these little lacebug nymphs on a couple leaves.

And also these little white caterpillars. I think they are just a type of wooly bear caterpillar, even though they are white. If anyone knows differently, please let me know! These guys are having quite a meal of sunflower leaves. At this point, I’m not going to do anything about the bugs on the sunflowers. Now if they encroach onto a vegetable…

Some of the eggplant leaves are also looking a little bit Swiss Cheesy. I couldn’t find anything on the plants, although my suspicion is cucumber beetles. I found a couple flea beetles, but they typically cause pinhole size damage. I’ll be keeping an eye on the eggplant to monitor the damage and to see if I find anything doing the chomping. When you see the pile of eggplant we harvested today, you won’t be to concerned about our plants!

If you remember from a couple weeks ago, I showed some pictures of the Chocolate Cherry tomato and was suspicious of either a fungus or bacterial canker on the plant. Well…I sent a sample to our plant pathology lab, and they said that it was scorch. I’m not convinced, because there were lesions on the stems. They could have been from one of the hail storms. At any rate, the plant is not recovering and seems to still be in decline. We removed it today. The neighboring roma seems to be developing some sort of ailment, but it might just be a combination of spider mites, early blight, and a slight nutrient deficiency.

After all that death and destruction, here’s a palate cleanser! Yes, this Swallowtail Butterfly Caterpillar is munching down the fennel, but we planted it for that purpose anyway!

Friday PhotoEssay

I have two options for this week’s PhotoEssay…I can share all the pretty or interesting things in the garden or I can share all of the pests and bugs and problems we’re starting to see. Any votes?

I’ll be honest that I was leaning towards the pests, bugs, and problems, but then I decided it would get rather lengthy and that I should save that for one or two posts next week. If you want a quick preview: spider mites, caterpillars, squirrels, blight, holey leaves, stinkbugs, and more!

You can see from our Whole Garden picture this week that we mulched the sweet potatoes on Tuesday and that we have a couple sunflowers blooming. You can’t see that the tomatoes are looking increasingly beset by a variety of problems and pests. Oh well. Such is tomato growing in Kansas! We’ll have some great examples for the Tomato Pests & Diseases talk at Tomato Day!

Look at this! We have buckwheat seedlings starting to grow. (Sorry about the poor focus on the seedling. Still learning the new camera. But the soil particles are in great focus!) This is very quick germination, probably aided by the warm temperatures and the nice shower we had yesterday morning. These seedlings are in the Pizza Garden. I haven’t seen any in the other beds yet…Hmm…

Earlier this week I was talking to someone about the tomatoes we had growing in the Demo Garden, and I said that there must be nothing spectacular about the ‘Bella Rosa’ variety because I had to look it up to remember we had it planted. Then I went out to the garden to take a look at the plant. I’m not going to forget about it again, that’s for sure! It has a cluster of 6 or more HUGE tomatoes on it, as well as more set higher up in the plant. It is supposed to have 10 oz fruit, and these are well on their way.

I commented last week about the ‘Limmony’ flowers that were aborting rather than setting, and I was wondering how many tomatoes we would actually get from this plant, since they are supposed to grow into huge tomatoes. Well, I may be changing my tune about that! I looked the plant over this week and again saw the big one shown here, but also found at least a dozen small green tomatoes that were set in the last couple weeks. Twelve beefsteak tomatoes may not be quite as many as you would get from a hybrid, but it is a pretty exemplary showing from an heirloom in my experience! (To put that in perspective, I just counted 17 tomatoes from the hybrid Jetsetter plant, including the 2 we’ve already harvested.)

This ‘Little Baby Flower’ watermelon has been growing like crazy this week. (Note to melon thieves: This melon is NOT anywhere close to ripe. Please leave it alone. Thanks!)

The squash under the row cover are also growing fast. Our hoops are shorter than sometimes, so I think we are going to have to take the row cover off before the plants have reached the blooming stage and hope the Squash Vine Borers have already found fodder somewhere else this year. I haven’t seen any of the moths flying around in the last couple weeks, so maybe we are safe?

I haven’t really been checking the pepper plants for production because they are often a little bit later than the tomatoes, especially the snack pepper types. I was walking by the Kids Snack Garden on Tuesday morning during our work time and notice a flash of red! We had a couple of peppers ripe. Then yesterday there were a couple more. I haven’t tried any of them yet, but it seems like the ‘Lunchbox’ variety are an improvement over the ‘Yummy’ variety in earliness and production at least. We’ll see how they taste.

Have a great weekend!

0.4 Inches of Rain Today!

Our Demo Garden rain gauge measured 0.4 inches of rain from the short shower this morning. Every little bit helps!

July Saturday Sampler on the 13th

Our next Saturday Sampler will be this coming Saturday, July 13th. We will begin at 9 a.m. in the classroom area of the Demonstration Garden. The topic for this month is Basil. We have several different varieties of basil in the garden this year, so we are going to be looking at those different types and how they could be used for healthful cooking in your kitchen.

Remember, the farmers market is going on, so you should plan a little extra time to park and walk to the garden area, if you aren’t going to come early and shop!

No registration is required and the class is free, so come on out!