Maple Hill Urban Farm Garden Pests

Maple Hill Urban Farm Garden Pests (and what to do about them)

AphidsJust thought I’d address some pest control issues. These are some of the pest I saw in the garden last year.  I have listed some possible pest control methods that are compatible with our organic farming practices.

The Aphid

If you are a gardener you are all too familiar with the aphid. Aphids suck up plant sap and cause plant leaves to wilt and die.  As they feed, they secrete a sticky substance, called honeydew, which quickly becomes infested with black mold.

What Works:

• To control aphids you can wash the leaves with strong stream of water but I find that doesn’t work well,  as it also damages the plant.
• Introducing lady bugs to the garden helps some. Put they seem to fly away.
• I found that taking sticky tape and wrapping it around my hand, (sticky side out) and then wiping the under sides of the leaves removes a lot of the aphids.
• You can also try planting garlic or onions near infested plants, as the smell drives aphids away. Or you can make a garlic spray for the plants.
• I have heard that aluminum foil or reflective mulch on the ground beneath the plants is an effective deterrent to aphids. I think I will try it this season.
• Neem oil spray is also a natural deterrent to aphids. Neem oil is available pre-mixed in a solution but because of its potency, a more economical alternative is to mix your own. Just 4 teaspoons of neem oil mixed with 1 tablespoon of liquid soap and 1 gallon of water makes enough insecticide for several applications.
• You can also set out yellow sticky traps for Aphids. Aphids are highly attracted to the color yellow, which lures these little monsters into the traps. They are available at most garden centers. Place several of them in the area where you find the aphids. They are a good inexpensive insurance.
cucumber beetle strippedcucmber beetle spotted      The Cucumber Beetle

There are 2 cucumber beetles: the striped cucumber beetle, and the spotted cucumber beetle. Striped beetles like cucumbers, squash, pumpkins, cantaloupe, gourds, and melons and sometimes beans, peas, and corn. Spotted cucumber beetles will feed all the plants listed above and also tomatoes, eggplant, and potato.

What works:
• Delay planting these crops until later in the season.
• Promote good root growth by fertilizing crops properly early in the season. Healthy plants will better withstand cucumber beetle infestations.
• Mulch using straw, hay, or put down cardboard, paper, plastic, or fabric as to deter cucumber beetles from laying eggs in the ground near the plants. Remove and destroy and wilt-infected plants immediately.
• Plant resistant varieties, such as Blue Hubbard squash or Gemini cucumbers.
• Use sticky traps around the plants.
• Use repellent plants:  Broccoli, calendula, catnip, goldenrod, nasturtiums, radish, rue and tansy. If you want to try marigolds to repel them use the more pungent varieties like African, French or Mexican marigolds. The more common marigolds may actually attract them.
• Plant radish seeds right in the hills with the cucumber plants.
• Spread any type of onion skins on the soil around the planted areas.
• Trellising plants makes leaves less accessible to insect larvae and may decrease egg-laying.
• Neem oil can be used as a soil drench to treat eggs and larvae. It seems to help repel the adults.

cabbage caterpillarThe Cabbage Caterpillar

Maggots tunnel in roots, killing plants directly or by creating entryways for disease organisms. The cabbage maggot feeds off the roots of crop like cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, collards and brussels sprouts.

What works:
• The best advice I can give is to set out these plants a little later in the season.
• You can buy nematodes to put around the roots but I would try putting wood ash or red pepper dust around the stems when you plant the seedlings. Try planting hot pepper plants nearby.
• Also again Neem oil is a good deterrent.
• If you see a worm pick it off and feed it to the poultry. Guinea fowl think these worms are a delicacy. So I put my Guineas in the garden when I spot them. You are welcome to borrow a guinea.

The Potato Bug

potato bugPotato bugs can quickly and thoroughly destroy your potato crop. They are ugly little bugs related to crickets. They like junk in the garden.  So do not leave bags of soil or old trash lying around. They will lay eggs in the soil under the trash. Be sure to plant your potatoes in a different spot each year.


What works:
• Potato bug traps can help you and eliminate small numbers of bugs. You can make a simple trap by coating a short board with a light layer of petroleum jelly.  Place the board on the ground where you have seen the potato bugs. The bugs will crawl onto the board and become stuck in the petroleum jelly. Discard the entire board or scrape the potato bugs into a trash can. Yellow sticky traps are also effective.
• Garden grade diatomaceous earth (DE), a fine silica powder made from the fossilized shells of algae, effectively kills potato bugs, is safe for humans and pets, and is easy to use.. Sprinkle a light layer where you see potato bugs or where you suspect they may be hiding. Because DE is not a chemical it does not degrade over time but you will need to reapply it after heavy rain or windstorms.

• Neem oil is again is very effective..