While my mainland and European friends are getting ready to winterize their gardens, perhaps sneaking one more harvest of cool weather greens or roots from their garden beds before snow flurries start, I’m waking up to this:
Post-Coital African Snails. Eeewww. These things are seriously gross, invasive and eat everything. They also are a known carrier of the Rat Lungworm Disease, which is dangerous to humans. We never had these (or slugs, also a carrier) when we lived in our other house so the occasional nibble from the garden wasn’t a big deal. But now I have put the fear of God into my small boy if he ventures out there to snack without Mommy to cut and wash and cook before consuming anything. I go through a container of Sluggo every other week it seems like, as the only organic method for dealing with these beauties. This morning, they got tossed into the chicken pen where our ladies had a field day running around with them. 🙂
Next stop: Mealybugs, followed by Sooty Mold! Always in pairs, the mealybugs eat the juices out of the plants, dripping a sweet excrement as they do so, which then forms into this black moldy stuff below the site of the bugs. I have cut back the red hibiscus, which seems to be the only plant the mealybugs like, but it hasn’t helped. I hate spraying anything, even neem oil, especially in this area because the bees and butterflies love my Hugelkultur! So later today I will be mixing up some insecticidal soap and washing all the leaves on this plant to get this infestation under control. I put a cup of vegetable oil mixed with 2 tablespoons of dishsoap into a large spray bottle and fill with water and shake. Simple and effective, but due to the oil content, must be done in the evening when it’s cool as as not to burn the leaves.
I’m fairly certain this is either slugs/snails or Chinese Beetles. I came out with a flashlight two nights ago to check and see if the beetles were munching away (they only come out at night) but I didn’t see anything. I have treated the soil with Sluggo and will also be mixing up some more neem oil to use as a systemic to pour on the roots in this bed. Spraying broadly is just not a good idea because I have cucumbers and squashes that need to be pollinated by happy bees and though it’s an “organic” method, neem oil will kill them too. 😦
There’s more evidence of munchers on the kale, though not as bad. Also, one variety of kale (Dinosaur variety) didn’t have any damage, so I will be planting more of that one! So it’s not all just pretty pictures and harvesting in this garden- we have issues too! Happy growing, friends. 🙂