|Sharon's watercolors make Trowel & Error an even more charming book!
Cucumber beetles, those dastardly, yellow, ladybug-sized pests that don't stop eating a plant until it is dead, have arrived in our garden. Last year they were in such great flocks, clouds really, that control was useless. The alternate host is said to be the corn rootworm larvae but information is murky. I've tried everything with these pests including yellow sticky traps with little soil-soaked cottonballs (soaked with oils of allspice and bay rum, which is claimed to attract them to the sticky trap, see below). Last year someone suggested that I call an exterminator and spray the entire garden. I try to be ORGANIC, so no thanks to that. Someone suggested a vacuum cleaner. Imagine trying to suck up a dust storm with a vacuum cleaner!
This year we're starting early. First, the sticky traps with allspice and bay rum oils. A few pests hatch from the soil early, breed like rabbits, then lay eggs and die, which means the main bug crop is coming, coordinated with the sprouting of cucumber, squash and related plants, which they attack near the base of the stem and eat. So I'm turning to Sharon Lovejoy's amazing book, Trowel and Error and using some of her suggestions.
Sharon's books are always a delight to read. She has a charming, childlike amazement at every living thing and translates those wonders through her joyful books and art. In this book she gives a recommendation of items every gardener should have in their garden first-aid kit (or as Sharon dubbed it, "The Gardeners Apothecary" which sounds much more gentle than First-Aid).
Sharon suggests several methods of attack. One, a basil sun-tea, which you brew up in the sunshine, combine with soap (not detergent) and spray on the cucumber beetles.
|You'll learn why soap makes a good insect control for certain pests in the garden.
One of our methods we use here at Long Creek Herb Farm to help control the early cucumber beetles are sticky traps, baited with allspice and bay rum oils. The cups are covered with Tree Tanglefoot, then the oils added. (Yellow sticky traps attract and trap flea beetles from tomatoes and egg plants, too, and with the addition of the oils, the cucumber beetles think it's tasty - until they are trapped, that is).
|Yellow cup, covered with Tree Tanglefoot, baited with allspice and bay rum attracts insect pests.
|Sharon Lovejoy's fanciful watercolors reveal her sweet spirit, and bring her books to life for adults and children, alike.
Happy gardening, and may your garden be free of cucumber beetles this season!