Start Scouting for Harlequin Bug

Hocking County had a serious problem last growing season with Harlequin bug damage on crucifers.  Any plant that was not monitored with hand picking or treated with insecticide was severely damaged up to complete loss of product.  I have not seen this pest up in Columbus where I garden although I am sure it is on its way.  It is normally a southern pest but has been moving north with the temperatures like all the rest of the bugs. When I did the garden walk at The Logan Community garden last year I noticed that all the brussel sprouts had been chewed to bits by this guy:

August 2016 pic

Scouting started in mid-May with the first bugs noted at The Urban Farm on June 13th.

Feeding damage from the bugs is noted on the leaf in the form of white stippling. Large holes were caused by feeding of Cabbage White larvae

Hand picking was used to remove the several bugs noted instead of insecticide to allow harvest of the remaining broccoli.  The planting beds will be rotated out of broccoli within the next couple weeks and no other cruciferous vegetables will be planted until August, but scouting will continue.

In your gardens, especially if you have a long season brassica like brussel sprouts, you will need to do extensive hand picking as well as monitor for egg cases.  Consider using an insecticide as well.  More pics and treatment options in the links below.

Harlequin bug (Murgantia histrionica) –>  Profile: Journal of Integrated Pest Management

Factsheet: University of Maryland

OSU Vegnet photo identification

Weed Control Using Cover Crops – Winter Rye

I hate weeds.   In most gardens they are a nuisance.  In my community garden they are overwhelming.  I garden in an extremely old Victory Garden remnant that might be the oldest community garden in Ohio.

That means the weeds have been there for so long they have naturalized to the place and the seed bank it unreal.  Last year I put a third of it in Sorghum X Sudangrass as an experiment to see how well it would help smother weeds.   I did not see a decrease in weed germination after that but I did find the ground easier to work this year in that spot.  The plow does spread the soil around so that did not help with weeds.

Here is what I have to deal with.  This is the next door plot.  The owner has not done any work yet.

cocklebur, bindweed, thistle, lamb’s quarters, morning glory, smartweed, ragweed, etc…….

It is all about two feet tall and going to seed.  Here is a better picture to give you an idea of the weeds.

I tilled residue under after mowing last week to make a seedbed.

Normally I would have planted buckwheat in this spot, just like what was done at the Logan Community Garden last year, but I had some winter rye left over from last year and that is what I used.

One patch of thistle in the middle of this pic needs dug out. I will mow the rye to keep it from going to seed through the season.

The rye cover crop will smother weeds and add organic matter to the soil.  It will be much easier to manage and frequent mowing will eliminate annual weeds as well.


Vertical Gardening Experiments

One of the best ways to increase harvest as well as maximize garden space is to grow upward.  Fencing, trellis material, bamboo poles, etc all have a small ground footprint but allow plants to use the vertical instead of just the horizontal.  In the various gardens here in Hocking I have some small experiments going on that I wanted to share.  Hopefully these give you some ideas to take home.

First up is The Urban Farm:

One of my favorite trellis items is cattle panel.  It is not expensive,  will last longer than me, and I am not sure I can break it.  I cut a 16 foot length in half.  I can do a four foot high trellis 8 foot long or an 8 foot high trellis four foot long.  Here is a couple ideas.  The trellis is zip tied at the top in a steep triangle shape.

Sugar snap peas almost completely covering the cattle panel. I thick plant pea seed way past recommendations. This is possible because I know the compost medium I planted in has some serious fertility to handle the nutrient need

Same concept with tomatoes. Can reach through the panel to harvest tomatoes easily. Will bear a ton of weight without any problems. Clip the zip ties at the end of the season to store the panel.

Next up is Bishop Educational Gardens:

If you missed last week’s Edible Landscaping – Beauty and the Feast workshop you did not get a chance to see the amazingly cool raised beds constructed by a relative of our Hocking County volunteer superstar Andy J.

Seriously. Raised beds made from hardwood facings from logging. Genius. Why did I not think of that?

It is tough to tell from this pic but there are three tiers of height. From L to R, eggplant and peppers, tomatoes, then planted pole beans. This will grow up to be a wall of colors, shapes, and textures that are edible. It is a one side view when standing on the road at the left. The trellis will be bamboo poles sourced from the grounds.


Last up is The Children’s Garden at the fairgrounds:

I showed you recently how I am doing tomatoes planted with espalier technique on chain link fence.  That will be dynamite I am hoping.  My other vertical experiments are with pole beans using two types of support; one living and one telephone.

Pole beans, var. Christmas Lima, from my friend Sarolin from saved seed here in Logan. They will be able to grow up the telephone pole support wire freely. I am curious to see how high they get.

This is a sunflower plant. I planted pole beans around the base of the plant. They will have a symbiotic relationship. The beans will use the flower as support while providing nutrition to the flower from nitrogen fixing.

I have two support wires for the telephone pole in front of my office to use. This one is getting seeded with pole black beans from Hocking County saved seed from my gardener/chicken friend Beth M.

Lastly. This is a mouse melon plant. It produces grape sized fruit that look like watermelon. This plant is in the ground by the telephone support wire that have the lima beans. This plant will also benefit from nitrogen fixing from the pole beans.

Hopefully you get some ideas to use in your garden.  The trellis/support will allow me to use limited space for maximum harvest over the course of the season.