Tuesday, June 30, 2009

I Stand Corrected - Three-Lined Potato Beetle - NOT Cucumber Beetle

I incorrectly identified the beetle below as a Striped Cucumber Beetle last week.

It is actually a Three-Lined Potato Beetle as I discovered when I read Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association Pest Report:
No. Those are not cucumber beetles. Potatoes, tomatoes and sometimes eggplants are attacked by this pest that only superficially looks like a cucumber beetle. This is the Three-Lined Potato Beetle. The adult of this pest is about the same size as a cucumber beetle but has a reddish head and a thorax with two dark spots. The wing covers are dark yellow with three black stripes.

For comparison, here is a photo of a Striped Cucumber Beetle from the University of Maine Cooperative Extension website:

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Weekend Wasn’t a Total Wash

Saturday morning was wet and overcast. We slowly dried out and the sky cleared by 1:30 and the rest of the day was beautiful. I was able to weed whack the garden paths and do some weeding in between the rows of beans in the traditional garden. I am really going to have to get some sort of mulch in there quickly. With all the rain we have had, the grass is growing back really fast.

Sunday, was rainy and didn’t offer many opportunities to run out to do much gardening. I did snap a few pics.

This is the first Japanese Beetle that I have seen this season on my Rugosa Rose Bush. I know it’s not going to be the last:

Take a look at how much the Super Marzano Tomatoes have grown over the last couple of days.

I am going to have to decide on a more permanent support structure for these tomatoes in the SWC. Right now I am using some flimsy tomato cages that I usually reserve for the peppers and bush type tomato plants. I have some extra trellis netting, so I think I will build a 2-foot wide trellis to place over the SWC.

I spotted a Lady Beetle pupa on my Rugosa Rose Bush.

Looking back on the posts for this past month, it seemed like I am always mentioning rain. Reflecting on the past month, I couldn’t remember many sunny days since I planted the garden back on Memorial Day Weekend. I was curious, so I looked it up on the NOAA’s National Weather Service website:

June 1 - June 27:
3 days clear
12 days partly cloudy
12 days cloudy
Normal rainfall for June = 3.6-inches
Rainfall as of June 27 = 7.21-inches… and still raining

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Found My First Three Lined Potato Beetle

*Edit* At first I thought this was a three-lined cucumber beetle....it's not. It is a Three Lined Potato Beetle.

I found this guy munching on one of my Peppers earlier this week:

He died.

Edit June 30: I Stand Corrected - Three-Lined Potato Beetle - NOT Cucumber Beetle

I have added a new feature to the sidebar that leads to an album of all the visitors to GrafixMuse's Garden spot that I catch on camera...the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Finally, We Had A Chance To Dry Out

We finally saw SUN for most of the day on Thursday and some sun on Friday. Temperatures and humidity also rose quickly and the garden is surging as a result. Thursday, there was just enough time to mow the lawn and finish the SWC for the new Bell Pepper transplants as more rain fell overnight. Today we saw some sunshine. Well, I didn't see sun today as it was cloudy when I left work for home.

The first tomato blossoms are open! The Super Marzano Tomatoes in the SWC are almost double the size of those in the SFG, but they both have open buds as of Thursday.

These are the Super Marzano Tomatoes in the SWC:

Super Marzano Tomato in the SFG:

I also potted up one of the Super Marzano Tomato sucker that sprung roots:

The Window Box Roma Tomatoes are doing really well in all locations.
Window Box Roma Tomatoes in SWC:

Window Box Roma Tomatoes in traditional garden:

Window Box Roma Tomato in SFG:

Eggplants in the SFG are showing promise and forming their first buds:

Even the Yellow Doll Watermelons in the traditional garden are showing new growth finally. Two out of three transplants remain in the traditional garden. I lost the third due to cutworm. I have not seen any growth since I placed them in the garden back on Memorial Day Weekend until now. I guess they were just waiting for warmer temperatures:

The Fastbreak Melons in the traditional garden have grown quite a bit in the last week. All three have blooms now:

The Crimson Sweet Watermelon plants in the traditional garden have doubled in size:

I finished the new Bell Pepper SWC late Thursday evening as the mosquitoes were biting and the sun was going down. Here are the Bell Pepper Transplants in their new home:

The three peppers that were failing, two New Ace Hybrids and one King Author, were removed and replaced with the new Bell Pepper transplants purchased last weekend.

All the beans are doing well. Most of the new seeds I planted to fill in the holes have sprouted, but some have not. I may need to reseed again as some may have rotted with all the rain we have had.

The Summer Squash in the traditional garden has grown. I think I can identify the variety by the leaf shape now. I know the middle hill is zucchini and I should thin this a bit, but now I believe the other hill is Straight Neck Yellow Squash. The leaf shape is slightly different than the Zucchini. The third hill was reseeded with Straight Neck Yellow Squash. I should have plenty of both if all goes well.

Zucchini in the traditional garden:

Straight Neck Yellow Squash in the traditional garden:

Wet weather is expected for the weekend although temps should be in the high 70s to 80s. I am hoping for some dry time on Saturday so I can mulch the beans and weed whack the grass in the paths.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Pruning Tomato Suckers and Growing Additional Plants

The tomatoes growing in the SWCs are doing extremely well. The Super Marzanos are much further ahead of the ones growing in the SFG.

I did my first pruning of the suckers on these plants last week. Tomato suckers are the growth that appears in the crotch between the stem and a branch. If left to grow, they will become another main stem with branches, flowers, and tomatoes. The new stems can compete with the original plant for nutrients. Here is a picture of a sucker on the Super Marzano Tomatoes:

I am going to leave a few suckers on these plants, but I want to prune out some of the lower ones. Plus I wanted to see if I could root them. I got the idea from EG at Our Engineered Garden when he mentioned in his blog that he did this for backup tomato plants in case his others didn't make it. The Tomatoes.

I just placed the suckers in a glass of water and within a few days roots began to grow!

I am going to pot this guy up and see how he does. We don't have a long growing season, but I think this one will be able to catch up. The others in the glass haven't formed roots yet, but they were placed in the glass a few days after the first one. It will be fun to experiment.

Already Thinking About Next Year

This is the Jalapeno that I grew from seed this year.

It is a bit spindly probably because use any special lighting other than window lighting. However, it is the best looking pepper plant that I have growing in my garden right now.

I have been purchasing seeds so that I can try to grow my own plants next year. Most of the seeds I have purchased have been at a discounted price so it’s worth a shot. I think I will set up the seed area on the workbench in the basement. I already have a fluorescent shop light that I can use above the workbench, and it is near the furnace so it remains warm. I can also add a space heater or seed mats if I need more heat. I’ll plan out the details over the long winter.

Growing my own plants will also give me more control. This year, my transplants arrived via UPS and I felt an urgency to get them out of their tiny cells quickly. If I grew my own transplants, I would be able to repot them into larger pots, provide better care, and wait until it was truly warm enough to plant them in the garden.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Filling in the Holes

The spinach seeds I planted must have been old because I didn’t get many germinating from the second round I planted either. I purchased some new seeds and reseeded in the empty spots again on Saturday. Hopefully there is still time for these to grow before the heat of summer hits.

The pole and bush beans seem to be growing well, but they did show some holes in their rows, so I reseeded these as well.

These are the Bush Lake and Tendergold Bush Beans (I weeded this over the weekend too):

Here are the Royal Burgundy Bush Beans. Every seed sprouted in this row:

The lettuce is coming along. I think I will be able to start clipping a leaf here and there. I wonder if I can reseed in the spaces in between in a diamond pattern within these same squares? The leaves of the more mature lettuce can provide some shade as the warmer weather hits. I think I will give it a try.

Here are three hills of summer squash.

My intention was to plant two hills zucchini and one yellow straight neck squash. As you can see, two hills have sprouted and a third has not. According to my garden plan, the one that hasn’t sprouted should be zucchini. However I have a nagging suspicion that I may have reversed the orientation and re-seeded with yellow squash in that spot instead. I knew for sure that the middle one is zucchini and I couldn’t imagine what I would do if all three turned out to be zucchini.

Here is a close up of the middle zucchini hill:

I was aiming at three plants per hill and was using old seeds, so I planted a couple in each hole. It looks like they ALL sprouted and are growing well. I am going to have to thin these soon. I hate killing plants.

I'm Back! We have DSL Again!

K picked up a new DSL modem at the phone company's office this morning. It was supposed to be ready to go. It didn't work. After he spent several frustrating hours with "tech support," we are finally back online. It's a good thing K is pretty tech savvy. Boy, I have a lot of catching up to so with all of the blogs I follow.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Our DSL Modem Died Early Saturday Morning

We don't have internet at our house right now. As a graphic designer, I am able to work a lot from my home office. I completed several projects over the weekend, but couldn't email or upload them. So I made a trip into the office today to do so and check my email. While I am here I am updating this blog. I am missing all the blog and forum updates that I usually read.

We live in an area that has limited services offering internet connections. Dialup is….well, dialup. We do have Roadrunner service in our area, but the house isn’t wired for cable. Instead, our local telephone company is our link to the cyber world via the DSL service they offer. Last year began our battle with maintaining a solid connection. When this connection wasn’t dropping (which required a modem reboot each time), it has been excruciating slow.

Communication with our local phone company about our DSL service has been extremely frustrating. It began a year ago when we first experienced the connection dropping. I contacted them and asked for a modem swap because ours was failing. They suggested our problems were related to an equipment upgrade that they made and they would try to work on it on their end. It has never been ok since then.

Fast-forward a year later, Saturday morning rebooting the modem failed. It seemed to have died completely. After talking with the technician at the local phone company, he guides us through a bunch of diagnostic tests and he admits that the modem is the issue and he finally agrees to swap out for a new one. Unfortunately, the office is closed and we had to wait until Monday. Ugh!!!

There is some good news in all of this…..Hopefully the new modem will be faster.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Worried About the Peppers

I am really concerned about my peppers in both the SFG and the traditional garden. They have not grown much since I planted them. This can probably be contributed to the cooler temperatures we have had all month. There are three that I know for sure are not going to make it. They have lost most of their leaves and show no signs of new growth on the tops.

The peppers that I know for sure that are not going to make it are two New Ace Hybrid and one King Author. Both are bell type peppers. The Early Jalapeno and Big Chili Hybrid Peppers are holding their own right now. Most show signs of cold damage in the loss of their lower leaves. But some are growing slowly and forming buds. From my research, even if the pepper plants survive cold damage, it can reduce the plants fruit yield. I have also read that they can suddenly take off once the warmer weather hits.

I have to really make a decision right now as the growing season is now on and there is no room for mistakes if I want a good harvest of peppers. But I was torn, I want greater yields, as these will be used for canning salsa in the fall. But I don’t want to kill them and replace them if they are going to bounce back.

So I decided to build another SWC! So far the tomatoes are doing really well in the SWCs. The Super Marzanos are about double the size of those growing in the SFG. I set off early Saturday morning to shop for the materials for another SWC.

Since the three peppers I lost were bell pepper varieties, I was hoping the find a flat of basic bell pepper transplants. The first place I looked didn’t have any pepper transplants left. So I had to head to one of the big box stores. They had a lot of transplants in stock and several varieties of peppers, but these were sold individually at around $3 bucks a pop and there were no bell peppers in the bunch.

Then I spotted one lonely flat of peppers among some other transplants. It was a flat of nine bell peppers for only $3.50! How perfect is that? Six for the SWC and three to replace the ones I lost. They were busting out of their cells but looked healthy. I also picked up small pots of Rosemary and Sage.

I will build the new SWC later this week and post pics of the peppers in their new homes: I will be constructing this one the same way as I did my others: 18 Gallon SWC.

3-4 Inches of Rainfall Yesterday

We had 3-4 inches of rain yesterday. This was on top of all the rain we received least week. Thank goodness my vegetable gardens drain well or I would have been in some trouble.

Here is a little "pond" around the base of one of the apple trees.

The "pond" has since receded and we are expecting some sun today.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Is Ignorance Bliss When it Comes to Pest Control?

After searching for several weeks to id this bug, I finally posted this pic to the GardenWeb’s The Garden Clinic: Pests and Diseases forum for help.

jean001 said they were Rose Chafers. A quick google search confirmed they were indeed Rose Chafers.

These beetles were named Rose Chafers or Rose Bugs because they have a tendency to feed roses and peony blossoms. They also damage fruits including grapes, raspberries, and strawberries. Rose chafer also feed on the foliage of many trees, shrubs and other plants, such as rose, grape, apple, cherry, and birch. They damage leaves by skeletonizing, or eating the leaf tissue between the veins similar to Japanese Beetles. (Hahn)

Rose Chafers don’t seem to have many natural enemies and are poisonous to birds and chickens. The control methods are hand picking and Neem Oil for natural methods, and Sevin, Bayer Rose & Flower, malathion for synthetic control.

My Rugosa Rose blossoms are covered in these beetles right now. They are not doing any damage in the vegetable gardens yet, but I remember seeing them on my bean and grape leaves last year. It seems just the foliage was affected and they didn’t eat any vegetables or fruit at the time.

My concern doubled when I read that they also eat young grapes. My grape vines have produced numerous buds this year and I am counting on a good crop. I would hate to have these guys eat them up before they have a chance.

Oh what to do, what to do.

I think I am getting a wee but obsessive about the bugs in my yard. The vegetable garden needs to hurry up and grow so my mind doesn't think about such things

Hahn, Jeffrey. "Rose Chafers." University of Minnesota. 2007. <www.extension.umn.edu/distribution/horticulture/M1198.html>

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

First Observation of a New Pest in the Garden

Look what I found on one of the Super Sarno Tomato plants in the SFG:

This is a Colorado Potato Beetle.

Here he is playin' dead after I plucked him off the tomato plant:

He was really big, almost an inch long. I have never seen this beetle in my gardens before this year....or maybe I wasn't so observant before this year. Either way, after these pictures were taken, this guy was flung far, far away from my vegetable gardens. I just didn't have the courage to actually squish him....the crunching sound and all would have given me nightmares.