Tag Archive for squash bugs

What’s Growing on in the Garden in August?

children's garden in august

okra and sweet potatoes growing strong in the garden in august

The month of August has been riddled with disappointment in the Little Sprouts garden. We fought squash bugs that decimated all the squashes, pumpkins, cucumbers, and now melons. We fought armadillos, raccoons, and possums. It seems like everything that could come against our growing has. But the good news is we still grew 115 pounds of food in August.

gardening with kids, okra and watermelon

early august produce in the children's garden

Normally August would be our glut of produce month, but the animals stripped the peaches, plums and apples off the trees. In addition, they stole most of the melons and stripped the tomatoes and tomatillos bare of all green fruit.

possum damage in the children's garden

We have been busy picking squash bugs by the hundreds, and trapping live animals and relocating them in the country where there aren’t any people living. We have trapped 4 raccoons and 7 possums to date. We have evidence of an armadillo and at least one more raccoon that remain at large.

garden eating raccoon

Most of our garden has died off from heat or bugs, but we are still growing sweet potatoes and okra. Our tomato and tomatillo plants are flowering again now that temps are under the high 90s every day again. Maybe if we don’t get a frost, we will have another round of fruits to enjoy. We are still growing hot peppers as well.

We have planted quite a few seeds for a fall garden and they are beginning to germinate now. I also purchased some fox and coyote urine to try to deter any more animals from wanting to hang out in the garden. We do have one helpful creature hanging out in the garden, this cute watch kitty. She’s exterminated a few pests for us and all she asks in return is to lay in the cool dirt of the garden (sometimes on a seedling or two) and to get a few pats on the head or scratches on the ear. She’s a keeper.

watch kitty in the garden

giant carrot in children's garden

garden harvest, gardening with kids

Our total produce production so far this season is 453 pounds of healthy, delicious, chemical free food for the kids and Mr. Kent and I to enjoy. Not what we had hoped, but definitely nothing to sneeze at. We have eaten watermelon, cantaloupe, hot peppers, okra, tomatoes, carrots, tomatillos, onions, Swiss chard, butternut squash, garlic, green beans, drying beans, cabbage, spaghetti squash, peaches, figs, peas, broccoli, herbs, kale, kohlrabi, blueberries, strawberries, asparagus, spinach, Chinese cabbage, bok choy, lettuce, radishes, and Brussels sprouts. What’s growing in your garden today?


What to do in the Garden in August

August brings with it a lot of excessive heat in Oklahoma so our main garden chore is keeping whatever we can alive. Once the temperatures pass 90 or 95, things begin to wilt, dry out quickly, and most plants won’t produce until temperatures cool down. The pollen in flowers such as tomatoes gets sticky during excessive temperatures and makes pollination nearly impossible.

Doing garden chores in August proves difficult as well. Not only do the plants wilt, so do I. I am extremely sensitive to the heat, so I have to be super careful and not stay out too long. I have to be strategic about getting out there earlier in the day and when I take the kids out in the mornings to harvest, I have to watch them carefully as well. The only thing that makes it bearable is fall is coming. I want to take good care of my plants until the garden work is pleasant again.

garden pests

This garden season has brought Little Sprouts a TON of animal invasion. We have had rabbits eating off all our seedlings so everything had to be planted at least three times and most things we eventually just had to buy seedlings for which made our garden more expensive to grow. Once we got things growing, we were plagued by squirrels taking the bottom half of our tomatoes, raccoons ravaging ALL the fruit off our fruit trees, and possums and raccoons stealing melons and tomatoes. Some days we would come out to find two entire cantaloupes consumed in one night. It was so disheartening.

garden pests, august

So one of our garden chores for August has been to find a way to reduce the population of what was eating what we wanted. We got some live traps and set them up with tuna fish and fruits and vegetables. We used the rinds, peels, and cores to attract our little friends. So far we have caught 4 possums and a small raccoon. We found a place way out in the country that doesn’t have a house around for miles. It has a nice creek flowing through it so the animals will have access to water and vegetation to feed on. So far that has decreased our losses just as the squash bugs are taking over the entire garden.

We have picked hundreds of squash bugs a day, but those little suckers are relentless. Every day there are hundreds more, just chowing down on all of our curcubits. First they killed all of our zucchini, and yellow squash, as usual, we didn’t even grow ONE summer squash to enjoy. Then they moved over to the pumpkins and killed those, also not leaving us even one. Next they destroyed the butternut vines which were producing quite well this year. We harvested several before they killed the vines. This week they killed all 6 cucumber vines and have moved over to the cantaloupe and watermelon vines. I fear those will be gone within the week. I think hell is full of squash bugs. I really do. What’s so annoying is that the food we did grow was taking by animals and then the bugs. Boo!

August is the time to plan your fall garden. If you want to grow your own seedlings, now is the time to plant seeds in pots and set them in a partially shaded area to germinate. If you plan to buy seedlings, it’s time to make a list and plan where you might find some.

We have had very little rain in August and as much as we try to water, the ground never gets a good soaking like it does from rain. We keep watering as much as we can and praying for rain to come and relieve our dusty ground. Just a few weeks ago, we were having floods, and now drought. It seems so crazy.

The other thing to do in August is weeding. The weeds have been more manageable, I guess because of the dryness. We have been picking Johnson grass, Bermuda grass, and crab grass out of every nook and cranny. We have a few other weeds, but it’s mostly grass this year.

We have many empty beds right now at Little Sprouts. When your beds lay empty, it’s good to add more mulch to keep in moisture, protect beneficials in the soil, and keep weeds out. We have been working on getting some of our beds covered with straw. It’s the mulch we use most often here.

August is the least fun month, to me, in the garden. I always just try to survive it and wait for better weather. Even with all the disaster, disappointment, and failure we’ve had this year, we have still had food to eat, and up until the past two weeks, we’ve had most of our food from the garden. And still, time spent sitting in the garden just listening, looking, smelling, seeing and feeling, is some of the best time in my life. The garden is a paradise, still.




What to do in the Garden in June

June Garden Chores, Little Sprouts Learning

June is heating up the garden for sure. I have to make sure to get any chores done early in the day so we don’t get too hot. Everything is growing and the chores are bustling right along. It’s so much fun to see the fruits of our labor.

Most of the seeds and plants are planted by June. There are a few things you can still plant such as beans, okra and melons. You could even plant pepper and tomato plants now. At Little Sprouts we do some succession planting so we will continue to have things to harvest as the plants such as bush beans get done producing. We usually try to plant beans and squashes every three weeks or so. This gives us a continuous harvest.

Most of the garden work right now is weeding. Everything has been built and filled and planted. Now we just have to keep the Johnson and Bermuda grass from taking over the beds and walkways. We try to pick weeds every day. I try to pick a few weeds in the morning when I have the kids out in the gardens and on the weekends we try to spend a couple of early morning hours picking them. The garden is never totally weed free, but we try to keep up with the bulk of it so our plants will have water, sunlight, and nutrients enough for themselves. Click here to see ways we keep weeds from becoming too overwhelming.

Another thing that’s important to remember in June is water. This year in Oklahoma, we’ve had a crazy wet May and June, but usually we need to water weekly. The garden needs an inch of water per week, so if you’re not seeing any rain, you need to water. Click here to see how we measure our water needs.

June is the time in Oklahoma when the bugs come out in full force. Keep an eye each day on predators that may be invading your garden. Look for signs of damage and hand pick anything that you can see eating your harvests. Squash bugs are appearing, so daily we need to be turning over every squash leaf and looking underneath for eggs. Squash bug eggs are a copper color and are laid in clusters on the undersides of leaves. If you see some, get rid of them.

Squash bug damage

Squash bug damage

bug damage in the garden

garden pest damage

bug damage on dill

bug chew holes

Chew holes in plants

We also hand pick squash bugs and harlequin beetles from our plants and throw them in a bucket of soapy water to kill them. We look for cabbage looper worms and tomato horn worms and do the same with them as well. It’s also time to think about slugs, grasshoppers, and other pests. We sprinkle a bit of diatomaceous earth around to help reduce the populations of slugs. Click here to see how. Since we don’t use sprays in our garden, we have to be vigilant about getting rid of the bag bugs that are crawling around out there. We hope that nature will lend us a helping hand by sending frogs, birds, lizards, spiders, and ladybugs that will eat as many of our bad bugs as they can find.

squash bug

squash bug 2

Squash bug

squash bug eggs

Squash bug eggs

It’s also a good idea to check often for signs of disease and decide what you want to do to treat it. June brought us a LOT of rain, so we already have some tomato fungus forming. I will need to take all of the effected leaves off and dispose of them to keep this from spreading.

tomato fungus

June is full of harvesting. There is plenty to pick in the garden including green beans, peas, cabbage, broccoli, carrots, lettuce, kale, kohlrabi, tomatoes, potatoes, garlic, and herbs. At the beginning of June we were still harvesting asparagus, but it’s pretty much done producing now.

June is hot for working in the garden but with the glut of delightful produce, it’s one of the most exciting times. So far this month we have harvested over 82 pounds of tasty goodness and are looking forward to harvesting more. We love our garden!