Tag Archives: Garden Pests

Adventures in Gardening Part 31 ~ That Thieving Squirrel: The Epic Battle Continues…

Well, my battle with that thieving squirrel continues.  He is still up to his evil diabolical schemes and clearly thinks my potting bench makes a nice dinner table.  It seems like every day when I go out to check on things, I find new and incriminating evidence of his evil deeds…Notice that plastic wrapper and little strip of paper laying nearby?  It’s from a fortune cookie.  Evidently he also enjoyed some Chinese take-out while sitting there chomping away on my cucumber!

I’m pretty sure he left this message just to stick it to me…Apparently, he sees my delicious garden vegetables as an “opportunity” to get a free meal, but I definitely don’t ever recall going and knocking on his door and inviting him over for dinner!  He’s just lucky I’ve had such a bountiful harvest of cucumbers and haven’t noticed much of an impact from his thievery, or he would notice the impact of my fiery wrath.

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But he’s also eating all my tomatoes.  Yes, all!  And unlike my bumper crop of cucumbers, my tomatoes have been struggling quite a bit, so I’m not getting very many of them.  I think we’ve eaten one so far.  One!  And the squirrel… all the rest!  And it’s always just as they are starting to ripen.  Ew look at this disgusting fly!  Flies are so gross!   This is a pretty nice shot I got of one though…~

That thieving squirrel has also stolen the last 2 ripe strawberries off of my strawberry plant.  😦

I saw him the other day in another part of the yard and his tummy looked big and fat, so my daughter’s scenario of him being just a poor innocent hungry little creature trying to survive out there in the wild is totally inaccurate!  I know he’s out there rubbing his grubby little paws together plotting his next attack!

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But on the bright side ~ there’s always a bright side…

This special surprise arrived in my garden the other day ~ all the way from Kentucky!  Some dear long distance friends sent me a snippet from their Trumpet Vine to try growing here in Minnesota to help attract butterflies and hummingbirds to my garden.  🙂I put it in a pot temporarily and will plant it in the ground in the fall when the weather is a little cooler.  Hope it grows!  Thanks so much Patty & Allan!  ♥

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And even though she’s back in town now, I’m still enjoying plant sitting my sis’s outdoor plants ~ including her lovely Gazanias…

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I sure am glad squirrels don’t eat flowers…

~Gardening is my therapy~

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Adventures in Gardening Part 29 ~ Cuckoo for Cucumbers

I’m just so happy that my cucumbers are doing so well!  I had hoped they would!  Ya know, you plant a garden with so much hope, but you just never know what’s going to happen.  Between the pests, diseases, and the weather… you can only do so much yourself to work to ensure a healthy and bountiful garden.  I had some disappointments and heartbreaks early on (gosh, remember my disgusting looking bug eaten spinach in Part 17?), and the growing season isn’t over yet, so I’m sure there may be more potential bummers on the gardening horizon, but here at the end of July with my cucumbers flourishing like this ~ all I can feel right now is anticipation and excitement!

However, I am still dealing with that pesky critter I mentioned in my last post, which I’ve now identified as being that evil diabolical squirrel who was frequenting my garden early on in Part 11.  I was sitting out on the patio talking to my sis on the phone and enjoying the view of my garden when I eye spied it making off with one of my cukes.  That little thief had one in its mouth!  I ran over to it and thought of spraying it with the hose, but it was a quick little beast and escaped my watery wrath.  Made me wish I had laser beams I could just shoot from my finger tips to zap that little sucker with.

The next day when I went out to check on things after the rain stopped, I found this on my potting bench…You can even see pieces of the skin scattered there on the ground below.  That horrible evil little creature must have just been leisurely sitting there on my potting bench munching away without a care in the world, having a feast on MY cucumber!  Grrr!

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My sis says she heard that you should always count on about 1/3 of your garden going to the pests, but I don’t have acres of gardens anymore ~ my tiny garden is only 4 x 8, so I don’t have much to spare.  And I’m certainly not wanting to share my harvest with thieving little rodents!  But unless I sit out there 24/7 there isn’t much I can do about it.  And even if I could, what would I do, sit out there with a pellet gun and take target practice?  When it comes down to it, I could never harm a little animal, even if it is an evil diabolical squirrel stealing from my garden that totally deserves it.  😉

And anyway, look… I still have a nice sized little bunch for myself. 

And more on the way…🙂

I don’t have quite enough to can pickles with, but I’m getting ready to make up a batch of my delicious refrigerator pickles.  Yummm…

~Gardening is my therapy~

Adventures in Gardening Part 26 ~ Enemies and Allies

I’m definitely no insect photographer (ew, I’d never want to be), but bear with my lack of skill here as I share a few of the photos I’ve taken of the bugs that I’ve found visiting my garden over the past couple of days…

I believe this guy here is a Candy Stripped Leafhopper.It’s very interesting looking and colorful; it even has a cute name, but I’m pretty sure it’s the thing responsible for some of the damage that I’ve been noticing on a few of my cucumber leaves.  So this is what became of him…Killed him with my bare hands.  I’m becoming quite the expert at smashing bugs.  Which is interesting since I’m completely terrified of them…

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This next bug was the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen.  It looked like a snail to me at first glance.  I had to use my flash setting to get a semi clear shot, so it looks like it was night time, but it wasn’t.  After spending a considerable amount of time scouring the Internet looking at more bug photos than I’d ever want to see, I’ve come to the conclusion that this is a Two Striped Planthopper Nymph.  Apparently these things suck out plant juices and also feed on trees and shrubs, so figuring it’s not doing good to my cucumber leaf here, I gave it a quick flick with my finger and flicked its weird looking butt out of my garden, hoping it doesn’t find its way back.  Seriously, it does have a weird butt.  If you do a Google images search (for a photo with a better view than my amateur skills provide here) you’ll see it has fuzzy things coming out of its hind end.  Bugs are ishy, but the variety in nature is pretty darn cool.

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I had the hardest time trying to catch a shot of this bugger ~ it kept scurrying all over the place or flying away (reason for its blurriness), and I’m surprised I even got a photo of it at all. I looked in some of my books and on the Internet, and I think it might be a Striped Cucumber Beetle, but I don’t know for sure.  If it is… it’s not good.

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Here’s another bug I found hanging out on my cucumber leaves.  Why is everything going after my cukes?!  Must be a conspiracy.  I think this is another type of leafhopper. I might have to find out what I should do about them.  I mean other than smashing them by hand ~ that was unusually brave of me to kill Mr Candy Stripper that way.

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But not all the bugs I saw were enemies.  Some were allies…

I found this little sweetie crawling around on my cucumber leaves.  Definitely a welcome visitor!  Ladybugs are excellent at helping control aphids.  And as you saw in Adventures in Gardening Part 23 ~ Attack of the Ants and the Aphids, I definitely have aphids in my garden…~

Although this next bug is sort scary looking, I was happy to see one exploring one of my zucchini leaves.  Soldier Beetles are another great ally in the fight against aphids.  It is also a predator of Cucumber Beetles.  🙂    I did not take the above photo.  I didn’t happen to catch a shot of the particular one that I saw in my garden, but I wanted to show what they look like.

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It’s really good to know that I have a few buggy allies out there fighting the good fight with me!  Eat my garden’s enemies to your heart’s content guys, and bring your friends!  🙂

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And on the growing front…

Omygosh look at these cute tiny little beans growing!~

And my tomatoes are continuing to bloom away.  I only have 2 plants, but it would be so awesome if I got enough tomatoes to make a small batch of my yummy salsa. ~

Also, I thought my peas were pretty much done for the season, but now I see more blooms on those too.  Very happy about this!  🙂

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And I have a couple more strawberries just about ready to pick…~

My celery was getting totally crowded out by my zucchini’s giant solar panel leaves so I cut a few of them off.  Hope that doesn’t affect the production of my zucchinis, but I had to give my celery a fighting chance too.~

In other news…

I think one of the robin eggs fell out of the nest above my potting bench because I found these little broken shell pieces on my potting bench.  Sad.  😦~

I found some Johnny Jump ups springing up in an old empty abandoned pot.  They’re such cheerful little darlings and were really a fun surprise to find in the garden today.  ☼~

~Gardening is my therapy~

Adventures in Gardening Part 24 ~ Birds and Blooms

It was lovely outside today, so I really enjoyed my time puttering in the garden.  One of the wonderful things about gardening is that there is always something new going on each day.  Of course it’s not as much fun when there’s bad things happening like pests or diseased plants, lack of rain or too much of it and so on, but when things are good it’s just so very rewarding.

And it’s especially fun to find unexpected things!  As I was standing at my potting bench filling up my watering can, I looked up and saw this robin sitting on its nest in my mom’s lilac bush only a few feet above my head…Several days ago I had noticed a mess of grasses and twigs on top of my potting bench, but I thought it was just debris brought by the winds during one of the storms that rolled through.  How exciting that I will be having a family of robins keeping me company now while I’m gardening!  🙂

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I keep forgetting to take photos of my peas!  We’ve just been so busy picking them and eating them up.  But today I caught myself and snapped a photo before I popped them all into my mouth (see one is missing ;)).~

My cukes are really starting to take off and are growing so nicely!

In an earlier post Adventures in Gardening Part 7 ~ Trellis Time, I shared about a little A-frame trellis I built for my cucumbers to climb on, and I’m so excited to finally have them doing just that!  I’ve got two different varieties growing up each side and then my lettuce growing underneath… An A-frame trellis is seriously an excellent idea for space saving in a small bed.

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Strawberries are still continuing to grow in abundance on my one little plant.  Here is another one just starting to show the first hint of color…I simply adore strawberries. ♥

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I also adore flowering things…

Over the years I’ve always enjoyed growing Astilbe in my shady garden areas and planted some for my mom in hers too ~ they are blooming now.  ~

Her Hosta are blooming as well.~

At one of the garden nurseries I visited earlier this spring they had a special promotion where the first 500 customers got a free plant.  Mine was this lovely begonia…~

Now, I realize that marigolds are quite ordinary and nothing special, but they are still bright and colorful, and a faithful bloomer.~

And another shot of my English lavender because it’s my favorite…~

The ants and aphids are still hanging around doing their thing, but don’t seem to be causing any real damage at the moment.  I’ve just been spraying them off with the water hose for now, but I’m keeping an eye on them…

~Gardening is my therapy~

Adventures in Gardening Part 23 ~ Attack of the Ants and the Aphids

Ah geez just when things seemed to be going so well…

Absolutely gorgeous day, feeling on top of the world, humming to myself as I putter around my plants, lalalala… wait!  What’s this?!  ANTS!  Tons of them!  Everywhere!  Eek!

And what do you suppose there are all crawling on?

My beloved zucchini!!!  Grrr!~

I decided to dig around a bit deeper to try and check to see just what the heck they are doing crawling all over my zucchini and noticed it’s mostly on, in, and around the blossoms.But yeah, no idea what they are doing or why…

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So I go to my laptop and start looking stuff up on the Internet.  Conflicting information.  Something that I didn’t know ~ ants are good pollinators.  Really?  I’ve never heard that before.  Hmm.  So does that mean it’s good that they are on my zucchini?  Something about that doesn’t sound quite right to me.

Something I did already know ~ ants are a sort of aphid farmer, but when I looked around I didn’t see any aphids on my zucchini.

But I did find some on my lettuce… Looks like whole families congregating and attempting to suck the life out of my lettuce!

And sure enough… there were ants on my lettuce too.  Lots of them…Yeah, lets have us a salad shall we?  A salad of ants and aphids = YUCK!

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I viciously sprayed them with the water hose immediately after taking these photos.  Not the right time of day for it, but there was no way I was going to let those ants and aphids just have their way with my plants for even one moment longer!

So now I need to decide what if any other actions to take.  I have my garlic pepper spray, but I don’t know if that will work.  Guess it won’t hurt to try.  I am open to any and all suggestions anyone might have…

On the bright side, I found my first cucumber!  It’s so tiny and cute!And somewhat alien looking.   😉

And there are lots of little curly tendrils developing for them to grab onto the trellis as they grow… Is it too early to start hoping for enough cukes for pickles?  🙂

Hope is always a good thing!

I also hope I win this battle in the attack of the ants and the aphids…

~Gardening is my therapy~

Adventures in Gardening Part 19 ~ Of Bugs & Blooms

Well… it was nice while it lasted…

but the bugs have found their way to my new cucumbers.  😦~

They’re also doing quite a bit of munching on my mint. I’m not really wanting to spray my mint with my garlic pepper spray since I plan to make tea with it.  As much as I love garlic… garlic flavored tea = yuck!

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We had fun picking some strawberries over at my sis’s today, but then imagine my heartbreak when I discovered this hole in my own newly ripening little strawberry.  😦I’m trying to decide if I should just leave this guy on the vine for the bugs to continue to chomp on so they don’t go after the others that are starting to ripen or not.  But heck if I’m not gonna be able to eat it then the stupid bugs shouldn’t be able to either!  Also I’d rather the plant focus its energy on the developing of the still healthy fruits.

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But hey my gardening news isn’t all bad…

Look!  I have little shoots forming at the base of my zucchini!  Pretty soon there will be lovely bright orange blossoms on the ends of those shoots and then… yummy zucchinis for me to eat!I know it’s a bit premature, but I have already been busy getting lots of new zucchini recipes to try out.  🙂  I freaking love zucchini!

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And here is a flower starting to develop on one of my tomato plants.~

There are also quite a few flowers blooming on my peas.  I just love their cute little blooms! They’re so darling!~

My Bee Balm is blooming more each day.  Hopefully it’ll soon be helping to attract the bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds to my new garden!~

My mom’s bright beautiful Stella De Oro Lilies are blooming.~

And just take a look at her pretty Asiatic Lilies…These are just so lovely and fragrant.  I had a wonderful time photographing them.   🙂

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~Gardening is my therapy~

Adventures in Gardening Part 18 ~ The Good the Bad and the Ugly

I’m writing this from my mom’s patio today ~ it’s an absolutely gorgeous day outside!

Not so gorgeous in my garden, however.  😦

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I had to yank out my spinach.  It was a lost cause.  Where life once was is now empty and barren…I suppose I should take out the plant marker.  It’s too late to replant and it’s only a sad reminder of what the bugs have stolen from me (insert dramatic music).  Maybe I shall find something else to plant in its place.

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Same story with my broccoli…I know… it’s boring and somewhat depressing to look at a photo of a Popsicle stick in the ground, but “it’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to.”

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Here’s the worst part of it… since yanking out my spinach and broccoli (and cucumbers, which I haven’t mentioned yet) the bugs have moved on to chomping at some of the other things in my garden.  😦

Like my lettuce…I wonder if I should have left the other chewed up plants in my garden for them to keep feasting on so they wouldn’t have resorted to attacking other things…

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Found this ugly creature snacking on my basil…I was so upset that I could barely focus to take a photo of it.  I killed him dead right after I snapped this.  That little sucker wasn’t going to enjoy even one more nibble from my basil!

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I’m at a loss of what to do.  Nothing I’ve tried seems to be working to stop the destruction.  I may have to resort to spraying my garden with some sort of pesticide, but I can’t bear the thought of doing that.  It goes against everything I am growing my own veggies for!  But it’s one thing when you have a large garden and can afford losses here and there, be it from pests or whatnot, but my tiny garden is only 4×8 so I don’t have any plants to spare.  Ugh woe is me…  :/

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My tomatoes seem to be struggling a bit.  Not from pests, but they just look sort of scraggly to me.I would have thought they’d grow extra happily with their cool blue cages…

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But my zucchini is doing all right.~

And my yellow bell pepper is growing well.~

I mentioned earlier that I also had to yank out my cucumbers.  The bugs had completely decimated them beyond hope, so I went to the garden center and bought some replacements.  I’ve never bought cucumbers as plants before, but it was too late to try and start them again from seed.  These new guys look nice and healthy.  Hopefully they stay that way…~

On the bright side (there’s always a bright side) ;),  the Bee Balm my sis bought me is getting ready to bloom!~

~Gardening is my therapy~