the good, the bad & the ugly


(the good :: ladybugs & soldier beetles)

(the bad :: cucumber beetle)

(the ugly :: drowned earwigs)

Gardening in the country ain’t easy folks. Not at all. These bugs, they come in droves with the primary purpose of destroying every seedling in sight. While we have had a great army of lady bugs and soldier beetles by our sides, we’ve also had our fair share of cucumber beetles, earwigs and pill bugs to wreck havoc on our tender new plantings. Most of my flower seedlings (pepperbox poppies, zinnas, and echinacea) have been eaten right down to their base. At this stage in my gardening career, if a seedling doesn’t survive, I shrug my shoulders and move onto another variety of flower. I’m a tough love flower gardener and if something doesn’t work out, I know there are plenty of other hearty varieties to fill their spots.

However, with vegetables it’s different. Most everything that we depend upon as tasty summer eats, the bugs also find as tasty spring eats. The earwigs are leaving the tomatoes alone, but we can’t subsist on tomatoes soley this summer. We also want beans, melons and cucumbers, all of which are a real hit with the bug crowd. To combat this, we’ve cut off the bottom of all our gallon planters and are using them as collars around our seedlings when we plant them out. We are also going back to a key piece of wisdom that a friend shared with us years back (and recently reminded us of), which is cans of canola oil spiked with something savory, in this case bacon grease.

In combating these creeping crawling things, it took us a while to figure out what exact bug it was doing the damage. I think this is making us better gardeners in the end. It’s one thing to read and look at pictures of bugs and bug damage in a book, but when you see it on your plant, it’s all together different. Now after watching a cucumber beetle munch on a window ledge zinna seedling, I know exactly what kind of damage she does. And now that we’ve caught many ear wigs right around our seedlings, we know exactly what kind of damage they do.

Next year we’ll be armed and ready. Just you watch out bugs! (that said, if you know of any cucumber beetles fighting advice, my roses, zinna’s and I’d love to hear it!)


Filed under Bad Bugs, Good Bugs

8 responses to “the good, the bad & the ugly

  1. I plant marigolds around my veggie garden to keep the bus away. Something does eat the new shoots of my yellow and green beans but I keep planting new seeds. They either had their fill or have moved on. We also get slugs. My nephew named a slug Bob one year. So now I call all slugs Bob. I have purchased copper coil at Lee Valley and they work. Happy gardening!

  2. Chris

    I just want to thank you for all your wonderful words, ideas, and beautiful pictures! I don’t read many blogs, but yours is the exception. Even on the subject of bugs, your advice is simple and effective…and your photos, gorgeous! Just the kind of thing I need. Visiting your website makes me feel good. Thanks again!

  3. Jo

    Hello…east coast gardener here…I too battle some bugs, my preferred way of dealing with them is letting nature do the job. Plant flowers and herbs that attract birds and beneficial insects and possibly repel the bad guys. I plant a lot of mints including basil, flowers including marigold (French), zinnias, and petunias. I have rue and chamomile in the borders. But, I have to admit cucumber beetles are tough little guys; I think they ignore all attempts at repelling and trapping, so this year I’m trying row covers; they can’t eat my plants if they can’t touch them. Right now, my seedlings are about 2″ tall, so I’ve covered them and will keep them covered until they begin blooming. You can use lightweight floating row cover or even tulle (yes, that fabric used to make crinolins for wedding gowns or ruffles for tutus). I got the information from Mother Earth News and a lot of their information is free on-line; I personally use they’re app for android phones. This’ll be the first year I’ve tried the row covers, so I’ll see how it goes. Another option I’ve heard about but haven’t been able to research fully is planting around bug activity. My very, very, very last resort will be insecticide, hopefully organic.

    By the way, if what you call pill bugs (aka rolly polly or sow bug) and earwigs are the same thing that we on the East Coast call pill bugs and earwigs, they are not damaging your plants. Pill bugs and earwigs are decomposers, and generally don’t mess with living matter (though I’ve read that pill bugs in desperate times may resort to it). If you are having an issue with your seedlings being cut off at ground height (so disheartening), you are probably dealing with cutworms and/or wire worms which collars are very good at deterring…just make sure that they extend 1″ above and 1″ below ground level.

    There is a lot on-line about companion planting for insect management as well as improving plant health as well as the quantity and quality of harvest.

    • Laurie

      Jo gave you the perfect advice. While companion planting for pest repelling is helpful, when you need extra help, row cover is fabulous! and the source for information is teriffic, too! Also, a big thumbs up on the pill bug and earwig comments…cutworms are more than likely your problem (but I do detest earwigs! I’ve been bit a few times and they give me the creeps!). Good luck growing the garden you hoped for this year! Many blessings on your efforts!

  4. Pingback: The Return of the Turd Bug | Hydrangeas Blue

  5. Have you tried diatomaceous earth to reduce your insect invasion? It is completely natural, suitable (if food grade) for human consumption, and a source for healing many ailments. My sister uses it in her alpaca pens to prevent fly infestation. Check it out!

  6. Hi there,
    I have just spent well over an hour on your site (1st time) and enjoyed it immensely. I have to tell you that I somewhere between jealous (of all your talents) & blown away (by the sheer volume of information) at this moment. I have so many questions I’d like to ask, but I’ll limit myself to two. I hope you don’t mind.
    I wondered what you do to keep the rabbits out of you flowers & veggies? They have just decimated us this year. We had to use rabbit fencing to save anything. My annuals lasted about a week. It is so discouraging. I live in a suburb so i can’t shoot them. My apologies to the rabbit lovers.
    I also wondered how you get the air pockets out of your body butter jars? I make small batches of body butter for friends. It began as a Christmas gift for neighbors. I love making things by hand. I was shocked when I began getting the jars back with requests for refills. I comply pretty easily, and it’s nice to have a quick gift for impromptu occasions. It’s so easy to make too.
    I’m thinking of trying lip balm next. I saw your deodorant idea, & would try that, but I’m not sure my husband would use it. Home made is always better than store bought. Just knowing what’s inside is a great comfort!
    I thank you for all the wonderful articles you’ve published over the last several years. I’ll be trying to follow you.

    • asonomagarden

      Hi d. Thanks for the kind words. We do get a lot of rabbits in our yard, but we haven’t had too much of a problem with them eating veggies as of yet. I’m sure some year they’ll do some major damage, but so far all I think they nibbled this year was a sunflower. They eat the fallen fruit which we like and fertilize around the trees as they go, so they’ve been beneficial so far. Now the spring time bugs??? That’s a different story, they decimated our first round (and second and third in some cases) of seedlings! I don’t really get many air pockets in my body butter. I pour it in the jars when the lotion is still pretty warm and liquid so it doesn’t allow for too many air bubbles. Let me know if you have other questions.

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