Sunday, September 15, 2013

Identify The Enemy

Before the carnage.
Ahh...the mystery.  There were little holes in the potted vegetable plants.

Clue: They were eating little holes in the leaves of all the plants except the tomato

My flaky room-mate from years ago, the F-L-A-K-Y one, said something in passing that has stayed with me: most problems are self-created.

I didn't put the bugs to graze on my plants, but I am the one who didn't try to kill them.

Yes, I should have sprayed everything with soap and hot pepper water immediately.  I didn't.  School was starting, I felt under the weather and of coarse: things were going too well so I had to screw them up.

THEN! The little munchers made their fatal mistake...
They gave up the pepper plants and concentrated on the lettuce.  
I thought I had more time...

When something is eating cole crops, it is almost always a cabbage loper.  The intriguing part of this mystery is that  this critter was eating the lettuce too.  AND had taken bites out of the peppers.

He showed himself in the end: a velvety black and green horizontally striped caterpillar.  Bunch of them.

Diatomateous Earth would have done them in, being so soft and vulnerable.  But THIS is the Growing Money vegetable containers where I'm trying to cement a plan to grow things without professional inputs and without spending much money.  Besides, I was doing my darnedest to procrastinate.  At least I was successful at something!

Diatomaceous Earth is organic and certainly available in any garden section, but it will cost another 5 or 10 dollars and you only need a sprinkle.  Then you will have to find a storage place for the rest of the gallon.  That does not meet my standards of making this easy, cheap and improving general standards of living.  There is already half a bag of potting soil left over.  We don't need more stuff.  We need more vegetables. 

The solution wasn't as forthcoming as the appetite of the caterpillars.  The damage didn't progress quickly.  It lured me into complacency. (That's my excuse.)  Then one day the lettuce was stripped to its veins.  The next day it was eaten to the ground.  Gone.

The pot stood empty for a couple weeks, growing algae.  More on that tomorrow.  

The lettuce was replanted three days ago.  

SOMETHING (black and green caterpillars?) ate the arugula seedlings that were in with the peppers.  Today I will boil some hot peppers, strain them, pour the water into a spray bottle, add some hand soap  and spray the cute little seedlings.  Their lives are in danger!

But what is more important, we should be eating the fruits (or lettuce) of our labors by now and I have been too preoccupied to squirt some soap into a spray bottle.  

Today's lesson: Sometimes people are their own worst enemies. But it's never too late to replant.  Turn over a new leaf and try again.

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