With the abundance of rain we’ve had and now this warm weather things are growing really well at the farm. It has been a bit cool at night a few times, which does slow down the tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant. The eggplant and pepper plants especially look a little small for this time of year, but they are starting to get some fruit. However, they are as productive as I’d like. Other plants enjoying this weather look to be the summer squash. they are growing very well. Even though everything is doing well we still have our usual disease and bug problems that we get to deal with each year.
The rain has been great, however, we are getting a little disease on some of the tomato plans. The summer squash are also getting some powdery mildew. All the plants look healthy and have been growing well to out grow the disease, but at some point the disease will win and the plants will give up. This will probably happen in September for the tomatoes, but the powdery mildew usually takes the squash out sooner. There is a new patch of summer squash we planted into the field so we should have squash through September until we get our first frost (this could only be two to two and a half months away now).
As I said we are seeing the usual bug problems as well this year. In May and June we always have a lot of this little bug called a flea beetle. They jump around like a flea and eat little holes in the arugula, radish leaves, bok choy, and several other greens.
They were especially bad this year for some reason. The only organic preventative is to put this fabric row cover over those crops so the beetles cannot get on the plants. The row cover is not easy to use so sometimes I don’t get to putting it over things in the spring. From this time on the flea beetles don’t cause as much damage so I don’t worry about them any longer.
Another bug that shows up this time of year is the potato beetle. The larva’s favorite food are the leaves of potatoes. However, since we don’t grow our potatoes here at Blanford they opt for their second favorite, the eggplant. They can totally strip a plant down of all its foliage greatly stunting it’s growth. There is a great organic spray that I can use to gets rid of all of them. This is better than going through and squishing them all with your fingers, which is what we used to do.
These two are the most problematic and bugs we have. Other problem bugs that I sometimes get to deal with are cabbage worms, which are the ones you may find in the broccoli heads and they make holes in the cabbage leaves. We also can have problems with aphids in the greenhouse. Two other bugs that are annoying are squash bugs and cucumber beetles. The squash bugs are one of the reasons why I grow those with the potatoes at Trillium. They can do a decent amount of damage on the squash plants and spread diseases as well. The cucumber beetles also can spread disease on the cucumbers, which can be a real problem.
Overall, the bugs and diseases have not been too bad this year. Each year I try to learn some new organic methods to deal with these problems. I hope to be able to decrease these problems in the future to a point where I won’t see nearly the same amount of loss as I do now.