Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Potato and Squash Flies?

 I went out yesterday to check on the garden only to discover an unexpected, unwelcome visitor to my squash and potato plants (and I think I saw some on my tomatoes).  What are they?  I tried a google search to figure it out, but no dice.  All I can tell is they are some sort of small fly and they have totally infested my plants. 
 They are everywhere and they're making babies.  And there's little black specks peppering the squash vines and I think that is either eggs or excrement.  I called my grandpa who is an entomologist and he believed that whatever they were were there to suck the sap and life out of my plants.  He recommended killing them with a solution of dish soap and water in a spray bottle.

  I got off the phone with every intention of doing just that only to discover that our dish soap didn't have labeling that told us whether or not it was anti-bacterial (which you don't want).  So, I googled some more and came across a youtube video praising diotomaceous earth and it's pest control properties.  I had just sprinkled that stuff around the base of my plants last week as a precaution, remember?
Then, the wind started blowing and when it died down, so had the infestation.  Gone, that fast.  I went out early this morning, and there were hardly any of these flies anywhere, but as the day went on, a few more were showing up.  I couldn't tell if they were hiding in the ant holes nearby or what.  Whatever they are and wherever they are, they are not welcome and I'm not going to take any chances.  After all, I raised these plants since they were just seeds.  I'm totally invested.

After watching the short video, I decided that I needed to reapply the diotomaceous earth around my plants and in a much thicker fashion.  I did just that.  I hope I didn't go too crazy with it, but I'm told that would be impossible.  We'll see.  I sure hope it works!

P.S.  I'm pretty sure I'm allergic to whatever those flies are because my face and nose got totally itchy around them. 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

HOLE-y Heck! We've Been Vandalized!

We were only gone a week.  Yet, somehow, they knew.  You see, I've been watching them since they came out in the hundreds this spring in the farmer's field behind us.  They are everywhere!  I wondered when the underground gang of garden vandals would strike our precious patch of vegetables.  Then we left on vacation for a week.

The potato patch was hardest hit.

Every time I see the prairie dogs on the hill behind our garden, I open the back door and shout angry threats their way.  They just ignore me.  My two pajama'd daughters lead one another in charging at those little schemers in hopes of terrifying them to death, or at least scaring them to the confines of their secret passages.  It temporarily fends them off.  Very temporarily.  They even heave large rocks into the tunnels to plug them up, which I appreciate, although I'm fully aware that it doesn't work.  
A "plugged up" Prairie Dog hole that didn't last very long.
It does, however, give peace of mind for 6 minutes until they bust a new tunnel right next to the old one.  

Poor potatoes.
Nearby friends and neighbors agree that there are more prairie dogs this year than in years past.  They are literally littering our streets as roadkill.  I'm told that as of last year their natural predators have been removed from this area (coyotes and mountain lions) by the city; and with the plentiful construction of a substantial subdivision going in up the street, it is no wonder the pest population has moved our way.  *Sigh*

I stuck a rake into the hole so you could see how deep the tunnel runs.  I'm unsure if this tunnel ended where my rake did or if it just turned.
There were smaller holes dug next to our pumpkin, butternut squash, tomatoes, and artichokes, but thankfully none of those did any harm to those plants.

What to do?

Why don't we just shoot them?  We tried.  It doesn't work.  Click here to read about our past attempt. We see the farmer in the field behind us furiously shooting prairie dogs on a weekly basis, yet it hasn't made much of a difference.  I do wonder why our meager garden patch looks so appealing when there are acres of tall green alfalfa just beyond the fence.  We are going to try to fence the garden with some 2nd hand fencing stuffs we were given.  I'm not really counting on that working, but it may be enough of a deterrent that our garden will be safe when we leave on vacations.  Plus, it's the bigger beasts (deer) that I'm more worried about.  They'll eat it all down in one night if given the chance (Yes, I speak from experience).  As soon as we get a cloudy enough day for me to brave the desert heat with my hubby, we will erect our fence.  Please pray for rain.


A Closer Look...

So, you want to see the culprits?  I thought you might.  That is why I asked my husband to go outside and shoot the prairie dogs, not with the typical weaponry, but with his new fancy camera.  It makes me cringe a little to look at them myself, but for you, my curious readers, and for education's sake, here they are.  

The demons from the underworld...

Prairie Dogs
Hey Coyotes!  Free all-you-can-eat buffet!

Basking in the farmer's field beyond the fence

Why don't those cactus plants deter them?

Does he think slithering like a snake will make him invisible?

That's right, HIDE!

Mending and Preparing

So, I mended the damage done by the prairie dogs.
I filled in the holes in the potato patch
And I decided to proactively prevent other likely pest invasions, specifically to my squash plants, by using mother earth's natural squash bug killer, diotomaceous earth.
 I've never used it before, but I'm hoping it works miracles.  I just sprinkled a spoonful around the base of each of the plants.
Pumpkin plant

Did I do it right?
Butternut squash hill

Did I use enough?
Cucumber hill
 The beetles haven't found my plants yet, but when they do, I'm ready to fight back!

So, have you had any bullies in your garden?

Sharing At: Raising Homemakers, HomeAcre Hop, Mountain Woman Rendezvous, Rurality BlogHop, Green Thumb Thursday, Fishtail Cottage, Tuesday Garden Party, Wow Us Wednesdays,

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Some Nice Snapshots of Our Garden Visitors

by: 6-year-old Tame Dame #3

Here's a moth.

And here's a bee.

And here's a lizard.

Do you want to see a spider?  Get ready to scream!


Ok, that is creepy, let's look at something else like a grasshopper.

That's better! Ok, I have to go now, goodbye.