Year of the Pest
When it comes to gardening, one thing is inevitable - no matter what size space you have, be it a balcony or an acreage, you will inevitably encounter a pest or critter that makes you go "ARGH!!"
It's only mid-June and I've already had more than my fair share of "ARGH!" moments - in fact, I've had more pest issues in the past two months than in any full year in the past.
So here's a rundown of what's been plaguing my garden, starting with those critters and pests that I've already spoken about in previous posts.
The bunnies have been finding gaps in my fencing and feasting in my garden...now I know how Mr. McGregor felt.
Initially I thought there was only one rogue baby bunny running around and then I realized that there were at least two when I saw one at the top of the hill and, a minute later, another one in the main garden.
|One of the three pepper plants with no hope of recovery|
It's large leaves were chewed off, but otherwise
this pepper plant looks to be on the road to recovery
|I only have a couple of Sierra MI lettuce left|
|Freckles is a bit closer to being harvestable - perhaps in another week or so|
The tomatoes went unscathed (my neighbour, unfortunately, wasn't as lucky) but there was some chewing damage to the eggplants which were right beside them:
These normally innocent garden helpers consumed approximately 50% of the turnips seedlings.
|I spoke about these in my last post|
One or the other (or both) decapitated and uprooted a number of allium seedlings in early spring.
|What's left of an onion seedling|
Once I sprinkled the bed with eggshells & diatomaceous earth and covered it with netting, there was no further damage.
The aphids....they are insane this year!
|Black Aphids on Fava Beans|
All of the tips of the cherry tree branches are infested
|Green Aphids on Plum Tree|
Winged Aphids on Plum Leaf
|Ants farming the aphids on the Granny Smith apple tree|
Enjoy the all-you-can-eat buffet, my friend :)
(5) Plum Curculio
Our late spring frost did a number on the five-in-one plum tree and the two varieties that bloomed earlier have, as expected, only set a few plums. The other part of the tree that bloomed later, however, is loaded with plums...and that is where our pest story continues. Many of the plums are showing evidence of being infested with the plum curculio:
A crescent shaped mark - I think of it as a mushroom -
means that this plum is infested with plum curculio larva
(6) Colorado Potato Beetle
I found my first every potato beetle on a volunteer potato plant on the hilltop. No photo op there, however - I didn't want to chance losing it while I got the camera, so it was a quick squish. Good thing I only found one as I don't really have the stomach for the squishing method of pest control.
(7) Leek Moth
The garlic scapes are just coming up and there is evidence of leek moth* damage on them:
|Leek moth* damage|
This also happened last year but I was still able to harvest a good quantity of scapes as the damage was usually confined to the top bit which was easily cut off. The larva didn't affect the garlic bulbs at all and the onion beds are covered with netting for this very reason - to minimize leek moth* damage.
And lastly, not a plant pest but a human one, this is turning out to be a very bad tick year. In the past, I may find one or two the entire season, but this year I've already found a few in the house, likely hitchhikers on our clothes, and one on me (yuck!).
Considering how early it is in the season, I'm sure that I'll be finding a few more pests to complain about in the months to come. I'm convinced that our mild winters in the past couple of years have contributed to the pest fest and I'm only hoping that it doesn't get worse. Would I prefer going back to -40C/F winters so that some of these pests don't make it to spring? Yes, please - bring it on!
*I originally thought that the alliums were being attacked by onion maggots but have subsequently realized that, in fact, I was dealing with leek moths so have adjusted this post accordingly.