Friday, August 27, 2010

Project Ideas for this semester

Here are some sketches Jonathan made this summer. The first is for the Arbor Entrance, which I think should be a priority to complete this semester.

This next sketch is a potential solution to our irrigation problem in which the rain water washes off the roof of the building and down across the concrete pad to wind up in the paths, washing away our wood chips and soaking some the beds (14 in particular). 

Finally here's an idea for a bike wheel trellis/fence that runs behind beds 1-5 and a stage in front of the shed where we could host poetry slams and musical jams.

Fall Crops

Here's some stuff we can plant now or start indoors:
Carrots (just put some more in, though it might be a little late)
Peas (we've got the beautiful Asparagus Winged Pea with its red flowers)
Radishes (don't have any seeds for it, so if someone has extras or sees some at the store, bring em)
Turnips (already have some going)

I left an envelope of seeds nailed to the beam to the left of the shed. The seeds need to be started indoors and if you've got space and the willingness to care for them, please take a packet or two. Other seeds that can be sown now are in another envelope in the shed in the black binder.


Sunday, August 22, 2010

Attack of the Squash Bug!

We've got an army of squash bugs back where the volunteer squash has been. Yesterday we pulled out the plants and put them in plastic bags to be set out in the sun for the week in order to kill the eggs on the bottoms of the leaves. The plan of action is to put down boards as a trap - the adults will gather underneath them during the night and then we'll pick them off in the morning, dropping them into soapy water, or ammonia. We can also put down compost to smother them and spray some organic insecticidal soap I purchased from Home Depot. The problem is they're headed for the cucumbers next. Hopefully these steps will help significantly. Finally, we can plant some companions to squash that will help repel the creatures - nasturtiums, radishes, tansy, and catnip.

Here's some information I found about squash bugs online:

Controlling Squash Bugs

  • Keep an eye out. One of the most effective methods for controlling pests in your garden is to inspect your plants often. You can frequently eliminate eggs and remove adult pests by hand if you're diligent. This is a great organic solution that can become part of your daily routine. It will work equally well on squash bugs, Japanese beetles, tomato horn worms and bag worms, among others. For squash bugs, you can spot and destroy the eggs, nymphs (which cling to the leaves after hatching), and adults as well.
  • Don't plant crops that attract squash bugs. Since squash bugs show a preference for Hubbard squash and many types of pumpkin, as opposed to melons and cucumbers, stay away from plantings that will present an attractive buffet for squash bugs. They are less likely to feed on royal acorn squash and butternut varieties too.
  • Keep your vegetable patch clean and clear. Clean your vegetable garden area every season, preparing it carefully for winter. Squash bugs can overwinter in wood mulch and wood boards, so eliminating potential habitat can help rid your landscape of next year's pests. Removing or turning under dead squash vegetation will also help.
  • Rotate your crops. From season to season, change the location of vegetable varieties to control recurring pest infestations. This is a good practice for replenishing your soil too.
  • Install row covers. You can purchase floating row covers to protect your plants by placing them under a squash-bug proof barrier. Row covers work best when plants are young because that's the time when they're most vulnerable and easy to keep covered effectively.
  • Plant companion crops. Squash bugs show an aversion to certain plants. Planting these repellent plants among your pumpkins and other vulnerable squash crops will help to keep squash bugs away. This doesn't always work by itself, but combined with one or two other measures, it will make your garden much less attractive to these pests. Try companion planting with:

When getting rid of squash bugs organically, preparation is the key to success. By using a few of the methods above in your spring garden planning, you can grow and enjoy your summer squash in peace.


Top Five Ways to Control Squash Bugs
By: Tammy BiondiSquash bugs are a garden insect pest that seem to drive many people right to the brink of insanity. They are willing to feed on any member of the cucurbit family and feel free to help themselves to your cucumbers, summer and winter squash and pumpkins. Once they have sucked the juices from these plants, the vines often turn black and die back. To add insult to injury, squash bugs will feed on the actual fruit of the plant once they have become bored with feeding on the foliage.

Squash bug fast facts
  • Adult squash bugs are about 5/8'' long and 1/4'' wide. They are grey or black and have orange and brown stripes on the edges of their abdomen.
  • Squash bugs' preferred food is yellow crookneck or yellow straight-neck squash.
  • They usually have one generation per year, though they can have two in the Southern United States.
  • Their eggs are a yellow to bronze in color and are deposited on underside of leaves along leaf veins in groups of a dozen or more.
It is possible to control squash bugs in your organic garden. Careful planning will be the key to your success. There are several modes of attack that can be incorporated into your plan. These include altering your planting dates or using certain plant varieties, mulch and tillage practices.

Squash bugs seem to prefer yellow summer squash, winter squashes such as Hubbard and some types of pumpkins to cucumbers or melons. If growing the perfect pumpkin isn't one of your garden goals, you can save yourself a lot of heartache by not planting them and spending your effort on cucumbers or melons instead. If winter squash is a must in your organic garden, try planting varieties that have shown resistance to squash bugs. These include Butternut and Royal Acorn. Squash bugs prefer yellow summer squash to zucchini or summer squashes, so if you're not particular about the types of summer squash you grow, stick with the ones that the bugs like least. Zukes is a good option,

Some studies have shown that companion planting or trap cropping (growing the bugs' favorite foods in order to lure them away from your garden crops and into the trap crop where you will catch and destroy them) can provide some control as well. Plants that are purported to repel squash bugs to some degree are catnip, tansy, radishes, nasturtiums, marigolds, bee balm and mint. These can be planted near your squash plants with the goal of keeping squash bugs from finding a home in your organic garden.

Careful variety selection (or avoidance) combined with companion planting will help with your squash bug problem but probably won't make it disappear. Planting your squash later in the season, once the majority of the squash bugs have already hatched and perished can help you gain the upper hand against these pests. If this isn't possible due to the short length of your growing season or isn't effective because you live in the South, where squash bugs have two generations a year, try using floating row cover to keep these pests off your plants. Using floating row cover (a gauzy, see-through blanket that goes over your plants) and keeping your plants watered and well-fed with compost or other organic fertilizers can help them fight off the squash bugs.

Squash bugs do have natural enemies in the form of insects that feed on them, such as spiders and ground beetles, and diseases that strike them. Tachinid flies and some parasitic wasps prey on squash bugs by laying their eggs in them. However, affected bugs often continue to feed and lay eggs for a while after being parasitized. These beneficial insects may help you have fewer squash bugs next year, but they probably won't help you very much when it comes to saving this year's crop.
Once this year's squash has finished its season, be sure to clean up after it properly. Tilling your squash patch or removing the spent squash plants and composting them will bury or kill many of the surviving adult squash bugs and eliminate the winter homes of many others.

Choosing your plant varieties and garden layout carefully, keeping your plants and soil healthy, providing a pesticide-free habitat for beneficial insects and doing a thorough garden cleanup in the fall will give you great results. Then, as you enter your beautiful pumpkins in this year's fair or enjoy a well-earned bite of sweet, organic winter squash, you can congratulate yourself for a job well-done.