Adventures in Gardening: Trouble in Gardening Paradise
Stink Bugs and Blossom End Rot (Oh My!)
I went out into the garden last night to check on my first red tomato to discover that it is rotting and is being eaten by stink bugs. I’m not sure what came first–the stink bugs or the blossom end rot. The red color looked kind of mottled anyway when I first noticed it, which I thought was just because it wasn’t ripe, but it could have been from the stink bugs.
After stink bugs and blossom end rot
I’ve been fight the bugs for a while now, but I thought they were strange looking squash bugs (which is how you can tell I’m a total gardening novice). It wasn’t until last night that I realized that I was dealing with an entirely different bug. They are all over my squash plants and all of my hybrid tomato plants.
My squash is showing signs of blossom end rot too.
While I was out photographing the damage, I saw dozens of stinkbugs. Some of them must’ve just hatched too, because there were tons of tiny stink bugs all over my yellow squash.
(Now you get to play “Try to Find the Stink Bug in This Picture.”)
Looking for squash bugs and their eggs
The time has come to use crazy chemicals on my garden. I mentioned before that I was “waiting for the other shoe to drop” and thought there would be a tipping point at some point in the season. Readers, the proverbial shoe has dropped. I’m disappointed because I feel like I’ve failed. However, as I wrote in my first post about gardening, its not a sin to have to use chemicals on your garden. And in the past six weeks, I’ve learned a ton and I’ve killed bugs with my bare hands. (My parents still can’t believe I’m out there killing bugs. I have witnesses to back up my claims, though.)
I did a lot of research last night and it seems like the only thing that will take care of stink bugs is the “big guns” a.k.a. crazy chemicals. My plan is to go to the store this morning and buy some Rotenone. Its technically allowed in an organic garden since it is plant derived, but in my opinion its still a crazy chemical, so I’ll no longer be referring to my garden as an organic garden. I’m also going to try some koalin clay (if I can find any locally), which prevents the bugs from both laying eggs (as they won’t attach) and feeding on plants. It’s also safe for plants, including edible ones, and washes off easily. I’m hoping the combination of those will rid me of my stink bug plague. If that doesn’t work, I’ll have to break out the Sevin spray.
As for the blossom end rot, that is a deficiency of calcium in my soil and also can be caused by fluctuations in the soils moisture levels. We’re in the middle of a drought here, so it makes sense that I’m having trouble with soil moisture levels. I’m going to invest in some mulch to put around the base of my tomatoes and squash to help them retain moisture. I’m also going to give my tomatoes some milk. Yep.You read that right. If that doesn’t work, I’ll have to locate some gypsum to amend my soil and go from there.
On the Bright Side
All is not lost and my garden is growing quickly! My watermelon, butternut squash, Jack Be Little Pumpkins, and my North Georgia Candy Roaster Squash are all outgrowing the spaces I planted them in. I’ve already gotten lots of zucchini and yellow squash. (I still haven’t figured out why some are growing fine and others are having trouble with the blossom end rot, though.) Here are a few shots from around my garden.