Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Always Room for One Little Pumpkin

I’ve never in my 17 years in this house had a brassica family plant grow well here. I’m really trying this year, but maybe it is not meant to be. This morning I had another pest invade the plot – flee beetles. The row cover is supposed to keep them out, but I obviously don’t keep the edges tacked down well enough. This is not too surprising if you look at my row covers. I don’t dig the edges under the dirt. I just throw whatever is lying around along the edges; rocks, t-poles, bricks, or anything heavy enough to keep it from blowing away. I was really more worried about cabbage butterflies and moths than flee beetles.

So it was off to the internet to find a solution. The most common solution was probably to use a row cover. Too late for that suggestion. I don’t use broad spectrum pesticides, so pyrethrin and rotenone are out. I had to laugh at the next organic solution. Plant a trap crop. Sounds nice, but what are the trap crops? Diakon radishes, mustards, choi, and napa cabbage was my answer. Of course I already had every one of these in my garden as my MAIN crop. I guess my mizuna might survive as the only crop not on that list. So I have the tastiest plants in existence for flee beetles. Sigh.

On to the next suggestion - sticky traps. It seems they like the color yellow. I could go out and buy a trap, but I figure I might be able to improvise. I have white plastic containers and if I put water and a little soap and a little yellow food dye, they might just be stupid enough to commit suicide. How smart can an insect 1/16 of an inch long be? Well I had no yellow food dye. I had blue, green and red, but the yellow one was mysteriously missing. The only yellow item I could find was construction paper left over from when the kids were little. Why not? I cut out rectangles to fit the bottom of my flat containers, filled them will water and a drop of soap and put them out in the garden. I swiped one of my Napa cabbages with my hand and a few beetles duly hopped into the death trap.

BTW the silliest suggestion I ran across was using a catnip spray on the crop. I could just imagine what would happen to a catnipped plot in suburbia. I wouldn’t dare plant it. Usually the myriad of cats in the neighborhood stay away because of the dog, but with catnip sprayed on the plants they would fight the dog for it.

Today was a beautiful day and the perfect time to buy the rest of the seedlings that I need. Tomorrow I’ll get the tomatoes that I ordered. I need my peppers, basil and some flowers. I grew some basil from seed, but the seedlings look sick. I’d rather have healthy ones. I bought the traditional jalapeño and super chili peppers. I never grow the sweet kind; they aren’t really prolific enough here; but the chilis do quite well. Sadly there was no basil. They have always had basil seedlings before. I’m so sad. I’ll have to look for them elsewhere.

Since it is so late in the season, the garden center had all of its seeds on sale 50% off. Who can refuse such a sale? Certainly not me. I wanted to pick up some more peas for the fall. They were very sparse. Most of the peas were English peas and I wanted snow peas, though I would settle for snap peas. I finally found one last packet of snow peas. Since I only needed to buy fall peas, I of course picked up five other packets of seed; arugula, kale, two lettuces and some rainbow chard.

And then my daughter decided we had to plant pumpkins. She wanted the Jack-be-Little pumpkins, but since they were all out, she ended up with a sugar pumpkin. We sometimes can grow pumpkins here. It depends upon how many vine borers visit. But we can always try. I hadn’t planned to put in a pumpkin and I don’t have much room left in the garden but you can always shove one more plant in right? Ok I have planted pumpkins before. I know they are monsters that take over the garden but when Beth asked for pumpkins, I immediately said “sure.” I figure we will plant them next to cucumbers and shove the basil that was going to be there, next to the leeks. We will have to train it up the fence to keep it from smothering the rest of the plants. So as soon as we got home we planted the hill of pumpkins right next to the cucumber plot. They have about a 3’x 4’ plot in their immediate vicinity and lots of fence space.

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