Edible Gardening

Good Bugs, Bad Bugs & the Summer Solstice

Lady beetle, ant & tachinid fly

Its almost summer and our gardens are LUSH with flowers, fruits and vegetables.  Have you noticed there are BUGS everywhere?!  Here is a picture of a Euphorbia bloom in my garden; its no more than 4 inches wide with 3 insects.   Unfortunately bugs are not color-coded for goodness or badness, so it takes a bit of effort to get to know them.  The thing is, if you just happen to dislike ants and you spray this flower to get rid of them, the fly and lady beetle are dead too.  In this case, ALL 3 are GOOD BUGS!  Here is an excellent place to learn about Bugs in the NC Piedmont, complete with color pictures and descriptions of what they do:  Pests and Beneficials on Vegetables & Cut Flowers, Chatham county Extension Agent, Debbie Roos

The “Bad Boy” Japanese beetles are out now too and will probably be here through late August.  They LOVE fruit trees, grape & bean leaves, roses, crape myrtle and hibiscus blooms (and much more).  DO NOT set traps unless they are at the far edge of your property as the pherimones in the bait just serve to attract more beetles!  Systemic insecticides work well for non-edible plants.  In small gardens you can tap beetles into cans of soapy water, or spray at night with Sabadilla (organic) or Sevin (Carbaryl.)  Some insect damage is easily tolerable. Reserve insecticides for big problems.

Have your Squash vines wilted and died yet? Everything you find on the web implicates the Squash vine borer. If your plant is down and you cannot find any wormy looking borers in the base of the stems near the ground, its NOT borers. Your plant has probably succumbed to a wilt that is caused by bacteria or fungus.  It is very common and difficult to prevent.  The good news is there is plenty of time to replant new seeds in a different part of your garden bed.  Look for disease resistant varieties of seed. (My yellow crooknecks are down but my patty pan squash are still going stong!)

Thanks to my friend Sue Sassman, Greensboro is lucky enough to have an annual celebration of the Summer Solstice at the Greensboro Arboretum on Saturday, June 23rd 2-10 pm.  The Arboretum is fairyland for a day!   Costumes, artists, drummers, firedancers … It’s one of my favorite events!  Here is more info: Greensboro Summer Solstice

May the garden fairies bring you magic and joy!