Cucumber Beetles Prefer “This” Over the Cucumber Vine!

The Spotted and Striped Cucumber Beetle wreak havoc on cucumber, melon and squash (Cucurbits). Here is another great trap crop, Amaranth.

spotted cuc beetlesstriped cuc beetle

One bite from these nefarious beetles and bacterial wilt enters the vines causing them to collapse and die. The vascular bundles (the nutrient transport system of the plant) get filled with bacteria and shut down the plant. Subsequently the plant will die. Plants with bacterial wilt must be pulled, burned or placed in a trash bag for removal. This plant material must not be composted. The first photo shows the effect of bacterial wilt. The second photo illustrates the bacteria expressed as gummy strings.

Bacterial wiltBacterial wilt1

In my experience, the best way to prevent bacterial wilt is the use of a specific trap crop. Two (2) years ago I discovered by observation cucumber beetles eating wild pigweed (amaranth). The wild pigweed was pressing against the leaves of a cucumber plant. There was no evidence of beetle infestation!! The beetles overwhelmingly preferred the wild pigweed. The same phenomenon may be seen on cultivated varieties of amaranth.

PigweedAmaranthamaranth-tricolor-aurora

Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company has several varieties of amaranth in their inventory – http://www.rareseeds.com/store/vegetables/amaranth/ Choose one or more varieties to entice the cucumber beetles away from you cucumbers, melons and squash .

Use amaranth as a trap crop and follow these guidelines:

  • Plant amaranth next to a cucurbit crop to attract cucumber beetles as either a food source (pollen/nectar) or an egg/larval site.
  • Amaranth/wild pigweed attract cucumber beetles to the border areas, where the amaranth/wild pigweed can be consumed. Pests on the cucurbit crop will be reduced. Plant cultivated varieties or wild amaranth transplants either surrounding, adjacent, at the four corners or in containers next to the crop.
  • Exploit the cucumber beetles special appetite.
  • Intercept the cucumber beetles from the edges.

Plant cultivated varieties of amaranth or encourage wild amaranth in your garden/property (as a trap crop) three (3) weeks prior to planting summer squash, winter squash, cucumber, cantaloupe and watermelon . The amaranth may be seeded in pots for transplanting or direct seeded, prior to direct seeding squash, cucumber and melons. Amaranth grows fast enough to satisfy the cucumber beetles appetite.

Disclaimer: Please use common sense and discretion regarding the use of  wild types of amaranth (pigweed). It may be invasive in your area.

Papa

Got Squash Bugs? Use Trap Crops!

Ugh, here we go again. Those nasty squash bugs are back! I really wanted to grow zucchini and yellow crookneck. Why waste my time! I hear this over and over again.

Now, there is a solution. Trap Crops!

  • Plants that are planted next to a squash crop to attract pests as either a food source (pollen/nectar) or an egg/larval site.
  • Attract pests to the border areas, where they can be killed. Pests on the unsprayed crop will be reduced.
  • Exploiting the squash bugs special appetite.
  • Intercepting the pest from the edges.
  • Check trap crop three (3) times per week.

Plant Red Kuri squash, Blue Hubbard Squash and Buttercup squash (as a trap crop) three (3) weeks prior to planting summer squash, winter squash, cucumber, cantaloupe and watermelon. The trap crop should be seeded in pots for transplanting, prior to direct seeding squash, cucumber and melons. Monitor for squash bugs to determine if treatment is needed on the trap crop.

Plant Red Kuri or Blue Hubbard or Buttercup squash transplants either surrounding, adjacent, at the four corners or in containers next to the crop.

red kuri blue hubbard

buttercupTrap Crop illustration

Monitor for squash bugs.

squash bug eggs nymphsquash bug nymph

Squash bug adult

Spot spray the squash bugs on the trap crop with a*pyrethrin insecticide. It may be necessary to spray the entire trap crop when the population threshold is exceeded. In other words, the squash bugs have infested the entire trap crop with eggs, larvae and adults.

*Pyrethrin insecticides – Evergreen Pyrethrum Concentrate, *OMRI Listed

PyGanic® Crop Protection EC 5.0 II, *OMRI Listed

* OMRI Listed: The Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) is a national nonprofit organization that determines which input products are allowed for use in organic production and processing. OMRI Listed—or approved—products may be used on operations that are certified organic under the USDA National Organic Program.

Caution – You must read the label!! The label is the law!! Pyrethrins will instantly kill any insect that is sprayed. That includes beneficial insects (honey bees, bumble bees, lady bugs, parasitic wasps, etc.). Be very careful!! Remember, squash crops, cucumbers, and melons are dependent upon pollinators to produce fruit.

When you follow these steps you will enjoy a fruitful harvest. Let me know of your success!

Papa

You may purchase the above varieties of squash at Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company by clicking on the links below.

http://www.rareseeds.com/red-kuri-squa-hokkaido-/

http://www.rareseeds.com/blue-hubbard-squash/

http://www.rareseeds.com/buttercup-squ/

What to do about slugs and snails, naturally!

Lindsay  – Snails! I really REALLY make every effort to garden organically, but I am having an infestation of snails, and am stumped as to what to do about it.

There are many natural solutions for slugs and snails.

  1. Sanitation is key! Make sure there is no debris for them to hide. Do not plant next to a compost pile.
  2. Plant trap crops for them to eat. Marigolds, brassicas, melons, lettuce,strawberries, etc. are great attractants of slugs and snails.
  3. Plant resistant plant varieties – lavender, rosemary, sage, wormwood, impatiens, poppies, geraniums, etc.
  4. Barriers – copper strips, Diatomaceous Earth, sand, and wood ashes. Be careful with wood ashes! You could make your soil pH go sky high!
  5. Traps – stale beer in containers at ground level, melon halves turned upside down, untreated wood boards laid on top of the ground.
  6. Guinea fowl will eat them. They shouldn’t eat your crops!
  7. Encourage your Lightning Bugs – their larvae eat slugs and snails!!!
  8. Iron phosphate baits such as Sluggo® or Escar-Go®

That’s quite an arsenal!

Papa