Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Invaders and Heat Waves

Looks gorgeous doesn't it? An entire crop of potatoes -red and russet - mixed with towering horseradish plants to ward off pests, specifically Japanese beetles.

Apparently it doesn't always work. Deep in those green leaves these little guys were busy munching away. These are the dreaded Japanese beetles. The last couple years our area in Virginia has been inundated with them. Twenty miles away, my dad picks 2-3 ice cream buckets a day off his plants, then feeds them to his catfish. He refuses to plant horseradish in his potato fields because it spreads. (I for one appreciate the fact that there's at least one plant I will not be able to kill, no matter what).

This year the horseradish isn't working completely, although (so far) I only have a very few beetles. My technique is to pick them off and drown them, usually while swearing. So far, the only bed they've shown up in is the volunteer potato bed. They must be nearsighted, and haven't located the new potato bed, 8 feet away.

Can you pick out the three separate companion plants here? This is in the new potato bed, right next to the compost bin in the middle. On the far left is a Heavenly Blue morning glory, in the center are the large,broad leaves of the cucumber, and on the right, the long narrow leaves of a potato plant.

The idea is that the morning glory will grow up over the compost bin making a column of gorgeous blue flowers, shading the cucumber while providing them an additional trellis to climb, and eventually covering the full-grown potato plants, shading them from the late summer heat. Both the morning glory and cucumbers have a shallow root structure, so they won't interfere with the potatos and their underground crop.

The heat wave this week means I have to cover the broccoli so it doesn't bolt. The gauzy covering mixed with lots of water means I should get a few more rounds of broccoli yet. (For these plant shade cloths, I go to Walmart and get their $1.00/yard gauze. This was originally white, but several years of use and our Franklin County red clay have dyed it a nice tan-cream color).

The blueberry countdown is started: the five-year plants are loaded, the four-year plants have a modest crop, and the three-year plants are growing and establishing themselves. To guard my blueberries against deer and birds, I randomly sprinkle compact discs around the plants- mostly the ones AOL use to send out for free, but I've been know to pick up cheap ones at yard sales. This is why the Greatest Hits of Guy Lombardi are in my garden, along with 500 Hours of Free AOL.

And for anyone who is wondering, no, we haven't finished the pond/water system yet. The best laid plans have been run amuck by car repair bills.

1 comment:

  1. Food-grade Diatomaceous Earth should also help kill off the Japanese Beetles.