Sunday, July 22, 2012

Gardens and Talks

This week I spent a couple of hours at a community garden in Smyrna, and it was mostly doing very well. It was great to see so many little gardens, and to meet more people who are focused on growing good food!

However, the garden was definitely having a pest problem. I have never seen so many beetles-per-square-inch before; these are kudzu bugs, and they were all over the pole beans:

So far, there is no good, established control method for these beetles, since they are new to the United States. Scuttlebutt has it that some entomologists at UGA are looking into the effectiveness of a parasitic wasp, but that's really all I've heard so far. It is likely, though, that if next year gardeners grow their beans under row covers, they will be able to avoid (or at least delay) such dramatic infestation.

The garden's tomato plants also had a problem, and I'm pretty sure it is Septoria leaf spot. The good news is that most of the garden beds already have produced a lot of tomatoes for the gardeners, so they have enjoyed a good harvest up to now.

The garden/farm where I volunteer on Saturdays has the same disease problem, and I'm guessing that it's only a matter of time before the leaf spot hits my garden, too. Disease has been a huge problem for gardens all over the area this year. Gardeners who are not all that concerned about using organic methods have been keeping the manufacturer of Daconyl (a fungicide) in business this year, and the rest of us are muddling through as best we can.

I pulled out the last of my Cherokee Purple plants yesterday, but I have several other tomato plants still producing, so I'm not totally heartbroken. Joe says that the Tomato Man's Amish tomatoes taste better, which means we still have what Joe thinks of as a "highly desirable" variety providing tomatoes for us.

Later today I'll get to visit another community garden, this one out in the north-east corner of the county, and I will be talking some about getting ready for planting fall veggies and about pest and disease problems.

On the evening of July 31, I'm scheduled to talk at the county Extension office about getting ready for the fall veggie garden. Anyone who wants to come should call the office to sign up (770-528-4070; or email


  1. OH NOOOOOOOOOOOOO they're all over my most mature row of pole beans; kudzu bugs.. i sprayed them with Safer End All... but..

  2. So sorry about the bugs! If any organic product would control the little guys, I would have thought that a combination product like Safer End All, with Neem AND pyrethrins AND insecticidal soap would be the one to do it, especially since it claims to work on other beetles, like the Japanese beetle. Apparently, the kudzu bugs are little super-pests, which is very bad news. We may all have to grow our beans under row covers next year! - Amy

  3. THX Amy! I just bought my 2nd bottle of Safer EndAll yesterday and had literally drenched these tiny pests. I have about 10 rows of SuperMarconi (italian seeds) pole beans; the kudzu bugs are hanging out on the first (tallest) row. The other plants are about 2 feet high and I don't see any on them YET. Don't know much about row covers but would like to make my own~if I have the time--The Safer EndAll spray helped; I sprayed yesterday in the late evening and I didn't see half as many on the plants this morning...but...

  4. For row covers, you can purchase official fabric designed especially for protecting crops from insects, or you can try using tulle (fine netted fabric from the fabric/craft shop) as a row cover. Regardless of the material chosen, the plants would need to be completely covered, lower edges of the fabric buried to completely exclude insects, and there couldn't be any of the bugs already on the plants. It's probably too late to cover your beans this year, but it's something to keep in mind for next year. Good luck! -Amy


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