update June

DSCF4887

DSCF4869The garden has been exploding with tomatoes, peppers, basil, eggplant, okra, and lots of other things. Crinums and other later season bulbs totally flushing out. Some of the winter stuff still hanging on, like various varieties of chicory and Tuscan kale, though they are just beginning to finally bolt. I am growing lots of things for the first time: especially the sweet potatoes. I ordered starts from Territorial (if I remember right). The starts looked wilty but I heard they were tough even if they looked that way. And true to reputation, they are exploding now. Summer will challenge me in finding space for everything, and keeping things under control. Already I have tomatoes that are totally taking over. One Sweet 100 tomato is already growing up over 8 feet!

In years previous there has been terrible problems with grasshoppers. They will demolish everything. But this year there has been little damage. They started at first, and would eat up the basil plants especially. So I tackled the problem from many angles. For one, I just kept introducing more lizards and frogs. There are also LOTS of praying mantis which I hatched this spring. I have actually observed them eating the grasshopper babies. I also introduced a protozoan through a product available at Arbico, a beneficial insect company, called Semaspore. The product is basically bran that has the protozoan attached. The baby grasshoppers eat the protozoan which takes them over, and they spread the problem to each other. I can get a basket like this every day, usually two or three.

I am not sure exactly what worked. But I am happy to say that there are few problems with grasshoppers. There are still some signs of grasshoppers eating here and there, but no crop devastation. Even if you spray chemicals, you will always have some damage. I don’t expect perfection.

If I have one problem that WON’T go away, it is the pill bugs or sow bugs. Some people call them potato bugs. Porcellio scaber is the one that doesn’t curl up in to a ball. Oniscus asellus is the more shiny one that does. We have copious amounts of both. I never thought of them as a problem before. But they have been devestating to seedlings or any soft stemmed young plant. They will destroy seedlings in one night, leaving nothing behind. And they will sort of tunnel into stems of young tomato plants or squash.

People don’t generally get rid of them because they usually are good decomposers. I am not sure what to do. Nothing really kills them. The only thing I can really do is make spots they love to hang out in (like piled up plant clippings in a moist spot, and literally pick them up. In a 50 foot by 50 foot greenhouse, this is rather tedious and daunting. If anyone has ideas, I am all ears.

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