Picture Post: Garden Update

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This year's weather has been great for the garden... it's been beautiful and rains when it was needed, not cold and wet like last year.  Some veggies are doing better then others, but overall doing good.  Already eat a mess of Snow Peas and Green Beans, plus all kinds of Lettuce and Spinach.  Went out and took some pictures this morning...

Potato Bugs: Colorado Potato Beetle Control

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Checking out the garden last night I was horrified to see all these little bugs on my potato plants.  At first I thought they were Lady Bugs with a quick glance, but looking closer I realized they were the pesty Colorado Potato Beetle (Leptinotarsa decemlineata) larvae.

I had read about the potato bug in the past while researching garden insects and pests, but this is the first in 3 years growing potatoes that they showed up.  A quick look through google nested some interesting sites for information.  Here are a few:

I'm not interested and never used pesticides in the garden, so was looking for a natural control method.  From what I've read about many different options, but these make sense to me:

  1. Manually go through the garden daily or even twice daily and pick the potato beetls into a container with soap and water.
  2. Can use 100% Neem oil as a diluted spray.  Neem oil is a natural control and works by discouraging the potato beetle from feeding, but not directly killing them.
  3. Attract or bring in natural biological predators for your garden such as green lacewings, ladybugs, predatory stinkbugs and spiders.
  4. Use BT (Bacillus Thuringiensis), which is a naturally occurring bacterial disease.  It's available as a spray solution at your local garden center and is effective in killing potato beetle larvae, but not as effective on adults.  Best to use if you catch early.

Since I only have a small patch of potatoes and am outside daily, I decided to just check a couple times a day and manually pick them off.  Some are in pretty bad shape so I hope I caught them in time.  Would hate to not have fresh garden potatoes this year and into the fall.

I'd love to hear how others go rid of these buggers.  I haven't personally tried the Neem oil or BT, but that would be my next move.  I also practice crop rotation to reduce the chance of recurrence... but I'm also looking into what I can do to the soil to possibly eliminate or reduce the change of them coming back next year in that bed.

Pole Bean Tent

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This year we planted pole beans and Oregon giant snow peas where we had planted potatoes last year.  It's a small plot, about 15 feet long by 5 feet wide.   I wasn't sure what to do for the beans to climb.  Last year I tried a tee-pee with miserable results.. my own doing.  I didn't stake the tee-pee in the ground properly and we had a rain storm with some heavy gusts just when the pole beans were getting going.  The wind tipped over the tee-pee and we loss pretty much everything as it ripped the plants right out of the ground.  Wasn't going to go through that again ;o)

This year my son saw a picture of a tent style structure with garden netting on it so we decided to build something similar.  Easy to build and fun too... we just went to the back of a dead end street and cut down some alders.   I sharpened the ends and put them firmly into the ground and used screws to hold them together.  We kept it like that for a couple days, then decided to pin it down with twine to keep it steady... didn't want this one blowing over.

We kept it like that until the pole beans and snow peas were about ready to start climbing.  We added some garden netting held down with some zip ties I had laying around.  So far so good... We hope this one keeps up and it's nice because we can easily reach both sides for the pole beans and the snow peas on each end.  The only issue we had is at the beginning, birds would get caught under the net and fight to get out.   We had to help a few out actually, but that doesn't seem to be an issues now that the plants are higher then the bottom of the netting.

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On the side of our house, between the house and the driveway, we have a small strip that was once a flower bed.  It's about 20 feet by 3 feet roughly.  Last year we ripped out the flowers, yes they're pretty but not edible, and planted 4 raspberry bushes and 3 blackberry bushes.  Before you yell as us for pulling out nice flowers, they were transplanted out back about the garden to attract bee's, hopefully ;o)

We already have a great 3 year old black lab who is trained not to dig and listens well.  We got a second pup black lab... well I don't need to go into the gory details, but only 1 blackberry bush survived.  After morning the loss and trying to figure out what to do with that space, I thought of planting some tomatoes we started from seed.  These are doing great, but do require more watering then out in the garden.

This space is south facing, which got me thinking of putting up some cold frames and try for winter greens after the tomatoes are done.  I salvaged some old sliding window panes and have some access to free left over lumber, so just have to come up with a game plan to build them.  Let's see how the tomatoes do first though.

The raspberry bushes have more then doubled since last years planting and look very healthy.  They seem to love it there and hope to get a good pick this summer.  The one blackberry bush that survived is thriving... so we'll see how this tenacious one does this summer.  It's sitting between the tomato plants, which I'm not sure is a good or bad thing, but so far so good.

Urban Homestead Summer Garden Update 2010

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It's been a while since I've been able to post due to intense work schedule. Been keeping busy around the house and garden though. It's been a trying spring and beginning of summer with workload, preparing for a new baby, studying and gardening... obviously a few of the more ambitious plans had to go ;o)

Due to time and money, the squre foot garden conversion had to be pushed off till next year. That's OK though as we expanded the garden yet again to add a 20 x 5 plot for corn and potatoes. We also planted an herb garden on the deck boxes and testing planting tomatoes on the side of the house where the cold frames will go this fall. Here are a few pictures to start, get caught up and document the start of the garden. Plan is to take pictures on Friday to document and visually follow the progress of the garden as well as note what worked and what didn't... on to the pictures.

My son give the thumbs up after his first shot at starter seeds back in April.  He started and cared for tomato and cabbage.  The cabbage didn't make the first round, I think due to over watering?, but the tomatoes came out good and are planted on the side of our house in the test bed, next to the raspberries... yumm!

The deck herb garden is a new addition this year.  We used to have flowers in there but decided this year to grow some herbs: basil, cilantro, parsley, mint and a couple others as well as jalopenos and peppers.  The boxes are about 8" deep and were filled with black earth and compost.  Next year the plan is to rebuild these as self watering containers using old storage bins, hidden inside the wood frames.  It will look just as it does now, but will be much less maintenance to keep watered.  We need to water these boxes at least once a day or twice if it's an extremely hot day.  We'll test a few different methods but one setup I like so far is: Building a self watering container.

The new bed we put together this year for corn and potatoes.  Should have taken the picture after weeding yikes!!  Potatoes on the left and corn on the right.  Half the corn was started indoors and the rest seeded direct.  This bed used to be a long flower and shrub bed along my neighbours fence line.  We moved the cedar shrubs at the top of the pics to create a natural barrier for our dogs and transplanted the flowers around the house.

We planted bush beans, pole beans and giant oregon snow peas where we had potatoes last year.  Here they're just babies.  My son and I had fun running out to get alders for the frame that will support the netting for them to climb up on.  Hope it works out.

Last picture for this post is an overview shot of the backyard garden just prior to planting.  I'll get some updated shots in the next few posts.  This picture looks like we live in the country...lol.  It's hard to believe we are about 5min walk to 3 grocery stores, 3 big box stores and basically a shopping mecca.  We are lucky as our property is pie shaped backing onto a green-space.  Just below our backyard is a drop of about 8 to 10ft and a small brook.  What the nice trees in this picture hide is the huge heavy equipment rental shop just across that little brook and a car dealership.  Which reminds me... I need to go complain about how loud their damn outside paging system is!

Enough for now... now that work and personal schedule is getting under control I hope to bring this blog back to it's normal posting frequency.  Cheers and happy gardening!!