Greene Acres, Year 4: June Observations
It’s been a great start to our fourth year – despite the crazy weather. Tomato plants like it warm, but no hotter than 85o and they don’t like anything below 60o at night, yet they seem to be flourishing in most of our plots!
I’ve heard relatively few bug complaints and it’s been the usual suspects: flea beetles, especially on beans. Remember, lots of things feast on beans and most of the time the damage is more cosmetic and the plant still produces. Last year several of you planted radishes near the beans as a trap crop, with some success. Notice, however, that the bugs don’t seem to be going after the plantings in the soil bags (containing Coco-Loco, not a native soil, but a natural growing medium). What does that tell you about where these critters are coming from?
Another handful of you are observing an increase in pill bugs, which aren’t even insects! They are crustaceans (related to crayfish). Try counting their legs (hint: ≠ 6 or even 8!). They are after decaying material in the soil and usually don’t bother our crops. Just a bit of trivia for you to use at your next party.
Let me know if there are any other critters lurking about and we’ll sound the alarm. For anyone interested, I’ve planted borage in my plot (#72) in an effort to confuse the bad bugs away and, at the same time attract pollinators. That’s if it ever gets blooming! Will let you know later if I agree with the claims I’ve read.
We’ve been in a funny weather pattern lately: heavy downpours followed by hot days of no rain. Watch the moisture in your plots carefully! Most plants like even moisture, and benefit by watering at soil level (not “sprinkling”). While it seems we don’t have to worry about water scarcity, we should still, as organic gardeners, conserve water where and when we can. That brings me to my last topic: using the rain barrel water. A couple of you have questioned its safety. Here are some recommendations provided by the OSU extension service:
- Rain barrel water is not drinkable, nor should you use it to wash your hands.
- Using it to water your vegetable plants is okay, but don’t use it directly on edible parts (leaves, fruits, etc.). Drip or trickle the water at soil level around your plants using a sprinkling can.
- Don’t use the rain barrel water close to harvest time (within a couple of days).
- Don’t wash your produce with rain barrel water. Any produce should be washed with potable (drinking) water prior to eating.
Please let me know if you have questions or comments about growing in the garden. Harvest will be upon us sooner than you think!
Jo Ann Bartsch