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A former member
Post #: 142
I had seen a few striped cucumber beetles and so I was watching for them and killing them by hand. However today when I checked the plants I found hundreds of them, especially on the buttercup squash. They were so covered with them I'm not sure they will even survive the attack. I'm not sure if Rotenone is strictly organic or not, but sometimes it comes down to 'do you want to save this plant or not?', so I dusted them all and all the bugs are dead. For now.

Also, I have been suspecting root maggot on some of my...oh that bra... word that means the plants in the cabbage family. Today I pulled 3 plants that did not look good, and sure enough there were the little white maggots. Interesting, and not surprisingly, they were in the patch that I had planted and not had time to mulch for about 2 weeks - the fly that lays those eggs must be able to get to the dirt around the plants. I expect more problems with the daicon radish, turnip, and kale I've planted because I've yet to put mulch closely around them because I've had to be able to watch for 'witch grass' coming up from any little rhizomes I may have missed as I prepared the beds.

And then perhaps the worst pest of all, for me, have been the black flies. My garden is to the north of the barn which seems to create a very still area. And then I'm constantly dealing with all that wet hay and cow manure which seems to draw them. Anyway I have had to deal with hundreds of black flies swirling around me. They are in my eyes and in my mouth. Some days I have only been able to stay out for a few minutes. I come in and imagine that I can take it for a time, go out, and back in, and out...arrrgghhhh! I am still not completely unpacked at 'the farm', and somewhere I do have a veil. When I find it I will try it.

...which brings me to my question: Doing net research on cabbage root maggots it seems that once they are in the soil it's too late. One suggestion was row covers. Does anyone have experience with floating row covers? I was thinking I could make re-usable covers to protect the little squash family plants as well, something to protect them at least while they are small and a bad investation may kill them.
Lisa F.
Group Organizer
Portland, ME
Post #: 437
At the permaculture course this weekend we had a great talk from Dot Perkins of the UNH coop extension. For beetles she swears by...

Ordinary geranium (not scented) ground up with water in your household blender
Pour through a coffee filter
Mix that liquid 1:1 with water
Add 1 tablespoon of dish soap per gallon of final product as a "sticker" to hold to the plant material

Spray on affected plants and should last through a couple of rains...

Black flies? I just heard of some folks keeping a large smudge pot smoldering and moving it around the gardens with them. Don't know for sure, but worth a try if it's that bad. I would go nuts, Mary. Good luck.
A former member
Post #: 143
Thanks for the tip Lisa. I don't have any geraniums this year but I hope someone gives it a try and lets us know how it worked for them.

We have discussed using seaweed for slugs and I mentioned that I wrapped it around my plants and didn't notice any damage for a few days. However, within a week I found slugs on it so I'd have to say that from my experience it didn't do any good at all. But with all the problems I've had, I have been blessed with few slugs and I am grateful for that!

A smudge pot? I wouldn't know how to make one! smile I'll try some punky wood in a pot and see if it works, but if you have to be right in the smoke that wouldn't be very pleasant either.confused
David S.
Washington, ME
Post #: 186
I'm pretty sure rotenone is organic.

I grow tomatillos to attract the squash bugs. They like them better and can't kill them.

There are sticky traps you can get for the flies.

user 5846522
Portland, ME
Post #: 29
Those beetles are the worse although root maggots may take the prize. I have not checked for beetles on squash this morning but none so far. Slugs however have been munching on some of my plants even though I placed open ended cans around the bottom and sprayed with soapy water.

Does soapy water work?

I do have an ongoing battle with those RED oriental lily beetles. angry I hand pick and wash the plants down with soapy water.

When the biting bugs get so bad I spray myself and perhaps some of the area that I am working in though probably not the best thing to do.
A former member
Post #: 80
Hi Mary,
Light your bee smoker and carry it around with you to keep the black flies away. I tried it once when I wanted to keep mosquitoes away and it worked pretty well. You could add aromatic herbs to give it a nice scent while you work.

user 3022592
Portland, ME
Post #: 189
Something got at our lima bean seedlings in no time flat. I blamed myself for having planted them while the ground was too cool. But it led to my putting up row covers before proceeding with transplants from the hoop house and cold frame into the garden. As I kneel and pin the back down it does feel, with my head in there, like a more hospitable environment for all seedlings.

But I've picked off slugs devouring some of the tenderest seedlings. When I found a teeny shoot from last year's dead-looking dill plant I had joyfully pampered and marked the spot hoping to get a new dill plant this year. Next day a big fat slug was sitting on the dill stump, no greenery in sight now.

Thanks for the Geranium tip, Lisa. It's good to be reminded of that recipe from Dot Perkins last year. (What a neat lady, full of good humor!)

I found that FEDCO's Agri-bon row cover is much sturdier than reemay from Allen Sterling and Lothrop.

Mary I'd be interested in making reusable covers too when these Agri-bon covers, also reusable, eventually deteriorate the way the reemay already is, over the hoop house. Let us know what thickness & fabric you choose.

A former member
Post #: 21
I just got my second Pest Report email from Eric Sideman. I must have signed up for it in April.

Tried to copy it here since it's bullseye about this discussion, but its too long.

His email address is esideman at mofga . org

I think it'll pass sending it this way.

user 3022592
Portland, ME
Post #: 194
I'm reading the MOFGA report now. Note the last sentence about rotenone.
I'm off to the nearby local garden center Risbara's to get some geraniums!
Elaine PS This is only one of 3 or more reports.

Pest Report- June 11,08


Stripe cucumber beetles are becoming active around the state and are
destroying unprotected cucurbit seedlings. The adult feeding on the
cotyledons and young leaves of seedlings is the worst damage. An additional
risk with this pest is that the adults carry bacterial wilt and the only
management of that disease is the control of the cucumber beetle.

The first line of defense is crop rotation. Adults spend the winter in crop
debris and near the old field of cucurbits. Planting cucurbits over in the
same field assures an infestation year after year. The cucumber beetle is a
fairly good flier, and there is more than one generation per year, but the
biggest problem is the early feeding by the overwintering adults and if you
can confuse them by moving to a new field each year you may be able to get

The next bit of advice is that transplants can tolerate beetle feeding much
more than tiny plants from direct seeding. Newly germinating plants are
easily killed by an attack nearly as quickly as they break the soil surface.

Protecting the small plants is very important. Covering with floating row
covers as soon as you transplant or seed will keep the beetles away.
Remember, you have to periodically lift the covers to weed, and remove the
covers at flowering to allow pollination. Another barrier is the kaolin clay
product Surround. Spaying a coating of this white powder onto the seedlings
as soon as you put them out deters the beetles. Even better is to dip the
tray of transplants into a solution of Surround before you transplant.

Insecticides available for organic growers include
pyrethrin (Pyganic Crop Spray 5.0 EC)), and
spinosad (Entrust or Monterey Garden Spray).

Pyrethrin is primarily a contact toxin, while spinosad acts both as a contact and a
stomach poison. But, none of these provides a highly effective ?knockdown²
of beetle populations. Still if the beetles have already gotten out of hand
and you need to do something they will help. An early morning spray with
either of the materials above and then a spray with Surround to deter the
beetle's return may be your best bet. Remember, no rotenone products are
approved for organic production at this time.
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