Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Seven Plagues of Summer

After the first flush of productivity, my garden is now plagued in ways that remind me of Moses in Egypt.

First the drought. We haven't had more than the scent of rain for weeks. Clouds gather, and the thunder teases. I can't keep seedlings alive or pull weeds (which somehow continue to grow) because the ground is like concrete.

Next the squash beetles attacked the plants and grey babies swarmed over the leaves. It's downright creepy out there. I didn't want to use insecticide, and the "natural" spray didn't kill a one. 

Third, the June bugs blast out of the blueberry bushes like soft ammo out of a machine gun. I duck and dodge, startled every time. 

Fourth pestilence: the Japanese beetles. In 2002, as a response to political events, Bill renamed them Bin Laden beetles. Now I believe they should be called Isis Insects. They gathered quietly. I neglected to put out lures thinking they were a minor threat. Then they attacked the leaves of raspberries, green beans, grapes and roses. The leaves are brown and skeletonized.

 I think the plants are traumatized. I certainly am.

The fifth entrants in the destruction derby are the grasshoppers-- petite and profuse. They live for about two months, so they have some weeks of damage to do yet. The organic soap, oil, and water spray didn't deter them either.  

The sixth and most damaging enemy is the Mexican bean beetle. A not-so-tolerable member of the ladybug family, I bet you've seen their tiny yellow eggs, fuzzy yellow larval stage, and dull brown adults. They consumed the leaves of my bush beans and snacked on the pitifully few remaining beans. 

The suggestion on the "planet natural" website was ridiculous. Pick them off by hand? The undersides of the leaves are covered in yellow polka dots of larvae. 

Disgusted, I yanked the plants out of the ground and into a big container of water and dish soap to drown them. I'm not going to give hundreds of them a chance to turn into thousands. I lost the battle but I stopped the enemy's

Pharaoh finally surrendered to Moses' demands to "Let my people go!" and the plagues ceased.

I don't know where to wave my white flag. 

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