I really don't want to use chemicals but.....

belita1(8)July 16, 2014

Hi, I am a new gardener and I have a watermelon patch that is doing good. I never saw a lot of bugs(I planted late) except for rolly polly until now. I know for a fact I have snail and slugs and add leaf miners to the bunch with a side of ant war-fare( fire ant and a smaller species I have never seen before are doing battle under my melons, they are also destroying them) but there are two other bugs that I know nothing about. I have let the spiders have at them( there are three wolf spiders, two types of jumpers and some weird boxer-looking one) but they seem to be over-whelmed. I have no problem letting the keep it up that was until I saw four of my largest melons rotting because the vine was being eaten away, there is extensive damage to the leaves and the main three vines. There are also two more bugs but I did not get a picture of them. I really don't want to use chemicals, but I will if this keeps up.

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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

you explain no damage to the plants... so what action need be taken???

a bug is a bug... but a pest causes damage ... we only react to pests ...

show us some SIGNIFICANT DAMAGE... and we might suggest some remedy ..

that said.. IDing what is out there.. is knowledge... which is power ... so good luck with the ID ...


ps: of course.. i fully expect someone to suggest that this is the pest from hell... and one bug is worth nuclear warfare.. lol .. thats how it usually goes for me ... lol

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 6:11PM
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Yeah Sorry about that I was taking picks of the leaves. Here are some pics.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 6:29PM
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Another bug.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 6:30PM
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Of the some 8 million species of insects in the world only about 8 thousand a small percent, are pests so just because you see some insect in your garden does not mean you need to spray, something. Spraying poisons, even those acceptable to organic growers, can do harm to the beneficials as well as the pests.
There is nothing you can spray that will get to the leaf miner larva inside the leaf and most often the damage they do is cosmetic anyway, and any thing that might control the moths that lay the eggs that become leaf miners will also kill off the predators of those leaf miners.
Slugs, snails and other creepy crawlies like them can be controlled by adjusting the environment that allows them to exist, cool, moist places such as under rocks, mulches, etc., and placing bait stations of stale beer to trap them.
A good healthy soil that grows strong and healthy plants can also help keep insect pests away. Floating Row Covers can be of some help, but that means planning and placement before the plants grow enough to be attractive to the pests. Spraying the Kaolin clay, Surround, mixture to disguise the leaves of plants can also help.
But encouraging predators, planting those plants that help attract them, ie. an insectary, can also help.
Insecticidal Soaps, Neem Oil products, pyrethrins, all of those acceptable organic pest controls do fit in the definition of "chemicals".

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 6:32AM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Thanks Kimmsr, for that dense and concise post. I wish I could be more concise. [g] Very good advice. Even after gardening organically for 30+ years, I appreciate the reminder of growing plants that attract beneficials. You can never have too many. I'd like to encourage the OP that it is a journey and a very rewarding one to go chemical free.

When I started gardening I was fascinated to discover that there was a whole ecology in my backyard. And while I make the effort to identify pests when I see them, often I just accept that there will always be more that I don't know than I know. I try to leave the garden to work out the balance itself because they know what they are doing better than I do. I try not to interfere unless the damage is major and even then, I search for a non toxic solution.

On the other hand, I do try to see what my role is and work at that. Long ago, I took to heart the often repeated advice, to improve the soil with organic matter. The more I have worked at that the more I have seen my garden evolve in a positive direction. I also pay attention to growing clean and keeping up with the weeds, mulching, taking care of any disease issues quickly and growing varieties that are resistant to disease.

I am focused on adding plant material that attracts beneficial insects and when that works out, it makes me very happy to see that. I'm always looking to add more and more. This year, I have more parsley and dill for the small parasitic wasps that take care of a lot of pests. I add alyssum for those small predators. Lots of long blooming perennials around the vegetable garden for the bees. I keep trying to sequence the bloom so there is always something to feed the beneficial insects. I've seen aphids on plants disappear in a week after ladybugs had a feast on them. I still get leaf miners on my columbine, but I cut all the foliage back to the ground after bloom and they grow a fresh batch of pristine, leaf miner free foliage. The leaf miner leaves go in the trash. I still get small amounts of Oriental Beetles which I knock into soapy water to dispose of them. Same with Red Lily Beetles and used the same technique two seasons in a row when I was overrun with earwigs. So it's learning as you go how to manage your garden in a different way. You won't get that in one season, it takes time.

I haven't used any chemicals beyond an occasional home made spray made up of 1 drop of soap, garlic & red pepper. And in 30 years I can count on one hand the number of times I've used that.

Later today, I'll take a photo of one of my vegetable beds that is looking pretty good at the moment and post it here.

Interestingly, I was forced to purchase organic soil for raised beds when we increased the size of the vegetable garden in the spring. I was curious to see how the beds that had the soil from our old vegetable beds grew in comparison to beds with the new soil. There were two large beds of our soil and three large beds of new soil. Every year in our old beds the peppers were wonderful. Full, bushy plants with a very good amount of peppers. This year I planted peppers in the new soil and the peppers are pathetic. Absolutely pathetic. I don't think there's anything wrong with the soil. It is organic soil that had 10% organic compost added to it and other organic amendments. It does seem to have a higher clay content then mine. The water is puddling on the top of the beds when it rains. But I can stand over the beds with the soil from my old beds and spray the hose full force with the nozzle set to shower and the water just drains right down even standing there for 15 minutes. So I am about to pull those peppers. They are not going to produce much if anything and I don't want to have the same problem next year, so I'm going to add more compost and sow a cover crop, let it grow until the end of the season and turn it in come Fall. It won't be perfect next season either, but I'm on the road to improving it and at some point it will be as good as what I had in my old beds.

Am I disappointed that I'm not going to have peppers this year? Sure. Peppers are one of our favorite crops. But I know it's a temporary setback and an investment in next season's garden to work it out this way now.

I spent a lot of time reading books. First, the book by Ruth Stout on the no work garden. Later, Eliot Coleman's books on organic gardening. I'm sure there are a ton more books to read, but I spent a lot of time on GW in the Organic Gardening forum, many years ago when there were a lot of very dedicated organic gardeners happy to answer questions. I'm happy that I did, it's worked out very well for me.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 7:37AM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Here is a photo of my vegetable bed where plants are growing in the soil I've been improving for many years. I haven't added any other fertilizer aside from our own compost from a passive pile layered at the bottom of the bed, one application of organic Fish Emulsion/Seaweed liquid fertilizer and a sprinkling of organic Alfalfa meal before planting. And no pest control at all.

That's cilantro along the edge, bush beans toward the front and cucumber on the trellis.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 7:14AM
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Here are updated pictures. As you can see the damage is worse and I have had to cut off four off-shoot vines already. Advice is wanted and need badly. I don't want to but I am so close to get Sevin Dust or something.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2014 at 4:15PM
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It is like this up the entire vine but I had a melon that is doing okay on it so I have not cut it off....yet.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2014 at 4:17PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Belita, I think you are missing out on getting more help because you are posting to the garden clinic forum. Actually I have gotten lots of help on the Vegetable Forum. Lots of experienced vegetable growers there and problems with melons and squash are talked about a lot.

I don't grow melons too often so I can't help that much. Please post to the Vegetable forum with the title: 'Melon Problems, can you ID these bugs?' You will get a lot of responses.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2014 at 4:47PM
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Prairemoon2 Thanks for the heads up. I'll head over then now and that is a negative on ID'ing the bugs. I really don't know what they are.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2014 at 5:45PM
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