Category Archives: Pests of any size & species

Deer, aphids, fungal pathogens, blight, humans, cucumber beetles…to include a few

It’s a boy!…Monarch that is…

 

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Beautiful male Monarch on my Asclepias!  The spot, circled in yellow, is mirror-imaged on the other wing, and indicates this to be a male.  Photo courtesy of neighbor, Jamie Simmons, who also watched this specimen flitting in his yard.

We’ve been blessed with the presence of an authentic Monarch butterfly in the garden this last week, following my sighting of 3 more out in some pasture lands on the outskirts of town.  The Monarch is a relatively rare butterfly to see in this area, and I can’t remember the last time I saw one: with the overall decline in their populations over the last decade, I was surprised and delighted to see these, especially in a short amount of time!  Almost didn’t trust my eyes! I grew up with them as very commonplace yard visitors, and missed their numbers up here in western Oregon.  Even though I’ve grown a type of milkweed for many years (a non-invasive cultivar), it hasn’t hosted very many caterpillars in its lifetime, nor is it the favorite of the monarch.  However, more people are planting various types of milkweed in the area, and perhaps it is paying off.

He is not always present on a daily basis, but one afternoon and evening he was a visitor for several hours, flitting about, around to neighbors, and back, and alighting on the butterfly bush, which is loves for nectar.  The frequently visiting Swallowtail was also cruising through the yard, and there were some near collisions at the Buddleia bush.  Jujubes have shown up, too, jumping and whirling themselves about in little frenzies, which didn’t phase Mr. Monarch.  Such a delight and blessing to see them all active and energetic.  I did have to remind little Juni-cat that she should not even think about trying to capture our visitor! She has caught a Swallowtail before…grrr.

Our first bounty of beautiful yellow crookneck squash was picked a couple of weeks ago, and a ripening tomato can be seen from certain viewpoints in the yard.  However, most of the tomatoes are green; our intermittent pattern of 3-days cooler than average, then 3 days normal summer heat, is not conducive to speedy tomato ripening.  There might be green tomatoes at season’s end this year, depending.

Spaghetti squash is being true to form and pumping out its fruit, (with bees’ help, of course), and at last count last weekend, I saw about twelve softball-sized squash.  Five days later, some of them are now almost full-grown for this variety, like a good-sized canteloupe.

We’ve had very, very, very, very bad deer this year, in spite of extra netting.  They have learned to walk on netting and bite through it for their highly-desired bean leaf sprouts, and then they won’t leave them alone.  There will be absolutely no bean harvest this year; I leave the stems to torment them!  Always one day (no, one night!) ahead of me, they demolished over half the lettuce crop.  It appears we might get some lettuce re-growing though as summer cools off a bit.  And they harass some of the melon and cucumber seedlings, too, when least expected, so we’ll see how those do.  Tomatoes are protected enough now that they can’t do too much damage.

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Early July deer damage.  Forget any bean harvest this season, and only a bit of lettuce escaped sabatoge.  The day after this photo shot, they munched the rest of the lettuce, and proceed to keep it mowed.

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That’s what happens when you leave town for a few days…all of a sudden it is a massive crookneck jungle! May have to do some disciplining/removal so the hidden melon plant can see more sun!

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Spaghetti squash interloping with tomatoes. At least deer don’t like the prickly leaves at this point.

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Squash fruits galore, running all over the place.

 

Step carefully…

The July jungle is now in full swing!  Evidently our watering regime is working well despite an ongoing drought, and waves of very hot days replaced by cooler, more “normal” temperatures, with heat spikes in between.  We simply use soaker hoses for 10 to 15 minutes daily on everything but the tomatoes, which may be on an every other day schedule, temperature dependent.

The time when the plants just weave their bounty together; criss-crossing paths.

The time when the plants just weave their bounty together; criss-crossing paths.

The bounty is coming in! Mostly summer squash and the oldest planting of bush beans, with a few extra pounds making their their way to a local food bank. The winter squash are prolific, too, just not ready!  And while scouting around the squash some mini-canteloupes and margarita melons showed themselves!  Always such a thrill to find the hidden gems!  Thinning the prolilfic tomato vegetation is allowing the tomatoes to see the sun and a few are just blushing.

Four spaghetti squash tucked away; and yes, the powdery mildew has started.  Earlier than usual this year, corresponding to the earlier maturity.

Four spaghetti squash tucked away; and yes, the powdery mildew has started. Earlier than usual this year, corresponding to the earlier maturity.

This year has seen a return of the twin (fused) yellow squash; this is the third set in 3 weeks!

This year has seen a return of the twin (fused) yellow squash; this is the third set in 3 weeks!

The dilemma of outwitting our browsing buck continues.  Almost a game in a way; one week we are “safe” from damage, and the next week he lets us know he is smarter, or more desperate, probably both!  While we now have extra netting stretched over plants within the already-netted perimeter, our nemesis continues to jump in and scout around, browsing anything that might poke through the netting.  Damage control is tolerable under the usual circumstances, but now he has earned the reputation of  being “bad, bad, bad, really bad” by succeeding in wiping out the beans that had just recuperated from a setback 2 weeks ago.  Apparently this was achieved by literally walking on the netting!  Maybe I should start tally marks on an extra zucchini.  Deer wins this week’s round.

Netting on netting.  Ambushed! Now the deer doesn't mind walking on netting to reach his treats!

Ambushed! Now the deer doesn’t mind walking on netting to reach his treats!

 

Sign, sealed, delivered…with rain

Almost to the hour, a long-needed dose of rain started to fall as we officially entered the fall equinox.

Our seemingly extended summer outdid itself in record-setting days near 90ºF for weeks on end, especially since the last post.  Any hints of rain or moisture seemed to vanish into some other reality, or released more as vapor than solid precipitation.  Watering became a daily need until after Labor Day, when the sun angle was lower and there were noticeably fewer daylight hours.

Blessed with three days of substantial rain, delivered mainly during the nights, with a couple of strong squalls during the day, we are now enjoying some beautifully mild temperatures.  As I write the sun is getting low on the horizon and there are many tiny insects buzzing, whirling, and floating in the bright light, also highlighting the many gossamer strands of cobwebs.  And there are about ten raindrops glistening as they fall from the stray cloud that is just passing overhead.

It smells heavenly, and myriad plants are looking more relaxed.  A bit of a paradox for some of them, as the change in season also diminishes their stimulus to grow indefinitely.  Most of the squashes have succumbed to the familiar mildew, yet a couple of them keep pushing out some new growth, making the plants look rather hilarious.  The tomatoes are following suit, and most have already been harvested.

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Relief on the way with fall rain. Tomatoes and squash are succumbing to the change in season, while the nasturtiums have come back onto full glory.

Things were looking pretty good for awhile for a new crop of green beans and a succulent row of lettuce….until last weekend, when the Bambies found their way into the garden again, and munched down the bean plants plus a few tender tomato sprouts.  The beans themselves are looking a little bigger, so there may be some for picking, but somewhere in the last 2 days they returned and munched down the baby lettuces, so there is fall’s crop gone.  At least they don’t like beets or basil

Four-legged browsers at it again!  Where there is a will there is a way....in.

Four-legged browsers at it again! Where there is a will there is a way….in.

Hoping others are having a bountiful harvest! it’s time to make some pesto before the basil declines with wet and cooler weather!

The ladybug hatchery is hopping…on the hops

For whatever reason, the hops plant outside the front door, whose vines screen the patio area from direct street view became a designated ladybug-generating factory.  This also means that there was an aphid attack.  The plant has never had insect problems before, but like my apples and some other plants that normally never get visited by aphids, this is the year of infestation, in spite of a very cold winter.

Hops hatchery

The hops ladybug hatchery and nursery.

Normally, the honeysuckle serves as the garden’s aphid residence, and the rest of the plants are spared any infestations.  The stalwart honeysuckle starts to look very shabby by the end of June, its new buds barely able to blossom forth before being smothered by aphid larvae, but it has no problem surviving.  I remain grateful to it for its sacrifice in this way.  Ladybugs hang out on it also, but don’t ever seem to gain the upper hand in controlling the aphids.

Never before have I seen so many immature ladybugs in so many stages of development,on a single plant, and I have no idea where the adults came from.  Perhaps some neighbor released a packet of several hundred, and, typical of these creatures, they left their original release area in search of food elsewhere.  It’s a blessing to have so many of these beauties around, contributing their assistance to the bounty!  And they always bring smiles to people’s faces.

Various stages of ladybug beetle larvae.  The dark "spots" are eggs that eventually "hatch" into the larvae, of which there are several sizes here.  Once they molt 3 times as larvae, then they become pupae (like the one closest to center), before they transform into the adults we are more familiar with.

Various stages of ladybug larvae. Eggs are typically a yellow-orange color, that eventually “hatch” into the larvae, of which there are several sizes here. Once they molt 3 times as larvae, then they become pupae (like the one closest to center), before they transform into the adults we are more familiar with.

A beautiful picture of two non-adult ladybugs.  The one on the right is almost an adult, but still has no wing differentiation; it is the pupal stage, occuring just after the larva on the left molts 3 times.  The youngster larvae are voracious eaters. Adults also eat plant pests such as aphids, but are designed more for their beauty, ability to fly off elsewhere, meet other adults, lay more eggs, and ensure the survival of the species...;-)

A beautiful picture of two non-adult ladybugs. The one on the right is almost an adult, but still has no wing differentiation; it is the pupal stage, occurring just after the larva on the left molts 3 times. The youngster larvae are voracious eaters. Adults also eat many aphids, but function more as re-locators, flying off elsewhere, meeting other adults, laying more eggs, and ensuring the survival of the species, all in the general time frame of 1 month…;-)

 

No deer here!

This is what we like…”invisible” fencing that deer really don’t like because it is so hard for them to see.

The "super-guys" modestly not showing off their muscles after post-digging.   Nice netting...can hardly see it!

The “super-guys” modestly not showing off their muscles after post-digging. Nice netting…can hardly see it!

Finally protected, just in time to remove all covers and jackets on the CG inhabitants.  With gratitude to the generosity of best friends with muscle power, the fencing got put up in a couple of hours, and looks great.  It is so much easier being able to walk inside freely instead of pulling back netting.

Yep, still level-headed after pounding posts!

Yep, still level-headed after pounding posts!

But these 4-leggeds are persistent in browsing, and decided if they can’t have lettuce or beans, then they’ll nibble some dogwood tips a few feet away.  They still manage to wind their way in from the neighbor’s garden when our barriers are not perfectly intact, and continue to harass my roses. and apples in the house yard.  Perhaps I will still see some small rosebuds this fall.

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Still no roses this year. The browsers escape into the garden through neighbor’s hedge on occasion.

Young lavender are playing sentinels for the recent melon sprouts in the pots.

Lavender seedling sentinels for the sprouting melons.  Keep those deer browsers out!

Lavender seedling sentinels for the sprouting melons. Keep those deer browsers out!

Dazed and confused

Hot, hot, hot…many plants are feeling stressed….what is with the high-heat wave this far into September?!  Record-setting 100° on Sept. 10.  Usually there is a day of moisture in there somewhere.  Oh wait, that was what was happening in July, on the driest day of the year.  But, seriously, we could do with a good cleansing rain…for just overnight or a day.  Smoky skies have been around for almost a week, with un-contained wildfires in the Mt. Washington wilderness due east of us.

CG running rampant!

Mildew arrived in late August to pester the squash; not abated by the heat.  A heavy load of acorn and delicata squash seems to be lurking under all the leaves.  Tomatoes are very happy with the warm nights of the last week, ripening beautifully; fortuitous it is!

New veggies for fall crop

Breathing space exists in one area of the CG again, for some cauliflower, chard, arugula, and lettuce.  A riot remains in the other half, with squash, cucumbers, and melons sprawling amongst the corn and tomatoes.

Clamoring for space

Bambie has earned her own private gate now….to look through.  The portal is now closed every night.  She isn’t bothering the veggies much, save one night of pruning beans when the netting wasn’t anchored, but she occasionally wants to sample inside the house yard.

Gate at the Portal

We also say goodbye to Jessie today, as she moves to her own new home, where she’ll have her own garden.  Congrats, Jessie!  And, thanks for being an enthusiastic part of this project.  Keep checking in on the bounty this fall!

August harvest tally:

  • Basil: 9 (pounds)
  • Bush beans: 23.5
  • Beet roots: 29
  • Corn: 11 (9 ears)
  • Cucumbers: 12.5
  • Endive: 2
  • Lettuce: 7.25
  • Scallions: 2
  • Summer squash: 9.5
  • Swiss chard: 4.5
  • Tomatoes: 5

Total: 116.25 pounds
We give thanks to all Beings who assisted in manifesting this bounty!

The Good, the Green, and the In Between

Now that fall officially has arrived we have seen some summer-like weather returning briefly.  No complaints!  Summer was just shortening up a bit too early in mid-September, so it seemed. But, nothing can be consistent; sprinkles invaded today, as I write.  Much of the house yard looks more relaxed for the moisture we’ve had; the cherry profusion zinnias are looking boldly pink again.  The sages ‘Pineapple’ and ‘Black & Blue’ are moving into full bloom, much to the delight of the hummingbirds.

 

Transitions- Sept 22 Equinox

 

Some actual ripe tomatoes have made their appearance, finally, having been discovered hiding under lush vegetation (now further cut back).  Fourteen pounds of ripe tomatoes, and 20 pounds of thinned back greenies and blushers in the last week is a definite improvement!

 

Beginning the tomato bounty-finally!

 

 

Classic fall! Ripening tomatoes and mildewy squash leaves

 

A nice picking of 5 large clusters of ‘Lakemont’ green seedless grapes from my second-year-ling has been a delightful surprise, and very tasty.  A good cultivar given the shiftier weather and less warmth needed to raise sugar content.  Looking forward to more next year!

 

A small but beautiful harvest of Lakemont seedless grapes off my first-year plant

 

Our ‘friend Bambi’ just returned a little over a week ago, though now I think he’s deterred.  Came with the change to cooler weather.  A few nibbles on the bush beans was the only damage in the CG (thank you!), sparing the lettuce seedlings in the next row.  After browsing all the leaves off my youngest columnar apple seedling, and half of the apricot, he continued more voracious sampling on a neighbor’s young apples, pears, and cherries.  Some netting and tree-bark rub downs with Irish Spring soap seems to be doing a good repelling job.

 

The ripening corner