June News from the MMG Edible Demonstration Garden
It is the end of May and we can pat ourselves on the back as we look with pride at plants that were once just little seedlings and are now bursting with new growth; cucumbers, tomatoes, squash, peppers, eggplant and more.
Monitor Your Plants
If you’ve managed to get your summer crops in your garden, what do you do next? The most important thing is monitor, monitor, monitor. Daily monitoring will catch common pests early and insure that your garden stays healthy. Look on the backsides of leaves and you may find a row of little white eggs. Investigate damaged leaves for insects and squish them along with the eggs!
In the Demo garden, the most common pests are aphids and cucumber beetles.
If you catch aphids early enough, you can just wipe them off the affected plant and/or hose them down with a strong spray of water. If you get a serious infestation though, you might need to spray with insecticidal soap but just do this late in the day when bees and other pollinators are not present. If you wait long enough though, parasitic wasps that lay their eggs inside aphids might come long and fix your problem! Watch Aphid-eating insects in Action and/or read more.
Cucumber beetles however are a more difficult problem to fix. Cucumber beetles love the cucurbit family. That includes cucumbers of course, plus squash, pumpkins, and zucchini that are in most home gardens this time of year. They are most active when the plants are small seedlings so take steps to protect your starts by using row covers. You will need to remove the covers though when the plants bloom and are ready for pollination. If you have an infestation in a large plant, you can attach a plastic bag to a funnel and holding this under the plant, shake the plant vigorously so the bugs drop into your bag. Make a practice of looking for these greenish yellow, black striped, ladybug-like insects and dispose of them in whatever way you feel is most humane.
Finally, it is not too late to add another vegetable to your summer garden. At the demo garden, we sowed Romano pole bean seeds about 2 weeks ago and within 7-10 days, we had vigorous little seedlings poking their heads through the straw mulch. We are training them onto a teepee structure made with 5 garden stakes spaced apart, inserted into the ground, and tiled at an angle so that they can be connected together at the top with zip ties to form the teepee shape. Plant 2 – 3 beans at the base of each stake. We planted ‘Helda’ pole beans but ‘Spanish Musica’ Romanos are also a popular choice with gardeners.
For the time being, we are unable to invite you to join us in the garden on our workdays. But when we are able to resume regular activities, we will throw the garden gate wide open and joyously invite you all in!