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Adventures in Gardening: Trouble in Gardening Paradise

05/30/2011

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.

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Before the stink bugs and blossom end rot got it

After stink bugs and blossom end rot

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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.

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Squash bug trying to hide from me in my borage plant.

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Stink bugs on my squash plant

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Can you spot the stink bugs in this picture? Look close!

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Blossom end rot

My squash is showing signs of blossom end rot too.

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Eww.

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That is an UGLY squash. Yuck.

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.”)

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Its staring me down.

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Look close!

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If you can't spot this one, you need to go put your glasses on. :)

Looking for squash bugs and their eggs

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My daughter helping me look for those infernal bugs.

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The Plan

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.

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Related Gardening Posts:

This City Slicker Gets Serious

How and When to Start Seeds

Gearing Up to Plant

Attack of the Fire Ants and Crazy Birds

Planting!!

A Garden Update

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5 Comments
  1. Nana Phylllis permalink
    05/30/2011 12:41 pm

    I hope you put an end to those stinking (stink) bugs!! We went to friend’s house Sat. and picked about 40 lbs. of tomatoes. Gave most away at church and are eating all we can. They are SO good!! I think you’re doing a great job with your first garden.

  2. Heather permalink
    05/30/2011 3:51 pm

    Hey Kate, I’m impressed at your dedication! :-) I broke down & did sevin a long time ago. My MIL suggested dissolving a tums in some water and watering my problem tomato that with the tums water. It worked and doesn’t draw bugs like the milk in the sun might. I also put some washed, crushed egg shells around the bottoms of the plants. I don’t know if that’s what did it or not, but I’m finally getting tomatoes instead of blossom drop. I have yet to see a red one though. I’m so excited to be able to eat one!

  3. Jan permalink
    06/01/2011 3:28 pm

    Having the same problems in my garden. I’ve never heard of using milk or tums. I’m going to give it a try.

  4. 06/03/2011 6:33 pm

    This is making me think I need to go check on my Dad’s garden that I’m in charge of this week while they are in FL. I really hope I don’t have to kill any bugs with my hands. Ewwww…..And maybe, just maybe I’ll take some pics of our garden and put some on my blog. Maybe. Your garden look great, BTW!

  5. 06/30/2011 6:43 pm

    Oh I don’t like stink bugs!! Your garden looks really good though.

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