It’s been a trying week. I’ve come home from work in a good mood only to look at my garden and instantly go on a war-path.
From this angle – it looks great. Everything is growing well, including our tomatoes and eggplant, both of which have flowers, as well as our green onions, herbs, and peppers with two babies getting bigger every day.
From this angle, not so great. The culprit? Earwigs, also knows as pincher bugs. Ew. And look what they did to my zuchini and basil in four days:
They started to get into the radishes too, but not the peas that are in the same bed.
Needless to say, these garden pests have made me more than cranky; just ask SoulDaddy! I first noticed it last Friday, but it wasn’t too bad so I turned a blind eye. Big mistake! By the time we got home from camping on Sunday, the zuchinni leaves were getting seriously depleted, but I was too busy unpacking and getting ready for the week to do much about it. When I got home from work on Monday, I hit the internet hard looking for natural, no-kill solutions.
For instance, I placed cups of vegetable oil at ground level with a banana in them which earwigs are rumored to be drawn to only to drown. They didn’t attract a single, ugly bug! I also rolled up wet newspapers so the buggers could crawl in and bed for the night. It worked, except they’d also found other places to bed down, like the flowers on my zuchinnis. And when I picked up the newspaper to toss it in the morning, quite a few escaped right back into the dirt.
I had already put crushed eggshells down a week before. Though this bed wasn’t hit hard, the eggshells weren’t foulproof as evidenced by the pumpkin that got attacked. Note that this also happens to be the same bed in which my cucumbers were already struggling; perhaps a post on that to come.
Unfortunately, those three natural approaches weren’t enough. I remembered something I came across during my online research called diatomaceous earth. According to Wikipedia, it is naturally occurring, soft, siliceous sedimentary rock that consists of fossilized remains of diatoms and is easily crumbled into a fine white powder. As my local garden expert explained, it is course enough at a microscopic level that it shreds crawling bugs, specifically the earwigs eating my garden.
It’s organic, non-toxic and was easy to sprinkle around all of my plants. It doesn’t work once it gets wet, so it’s best to do in between waterings. Unfortunately, SoulDaddy forgot to turn the sprinklers off the first night so I had to repeat the application the second night.
My garden store was out of the small bag (a good sign of effectiveness, no?), so I had to buy the large. At $10, I thought it was certainly worth saving my plants and now I’m fully prepared for future infestations as well.
My lesson learned? Don’t wait so long before hitting the garden store for a more effective, organic solution. I’m pretty sure my basil will survive, but the future of my zuchinni plants remains to be seen considering the amount of damage done.
Not great, but I will remain hopeful for a garden full of bounties this summer. Like these radishes we’ve been devouring. Aren’t they beautiful?
How do you deal with garden pests? I’d love for you to share any tips that work for you!
Update 6/24 – My dad, Jeff Watts, is always full of tips and tricks, especially when it comes to the great outdoors. I tried the beer in a cup at ground level approach (suggested in the comments below) and it worked like a charm, an earwig charm! I set them out on Friday and by Saturday they were completely full of drowned pincher bugs. Awesome!
I love it when my father has all the answers, though I will refrain from drinking the leftover beer. :-) According to him, don’t worry about keeping it fresh; stale beer actually works better. However, do re-fill the cups as they evaporate or become diluted from watering the garden. Given the infestation we seem to have in our yard this year, I’ll be keeping these full for the duration of the growing season. You can get more tips and tales from my father, an avid outdoorsman and Registered Maine Guide, at Moose Look Outfitters. Yay, Dad!
I shared this post at Monday Mania, Fat Tuesday, Hearth and Soul, Frugal Tuesday, The Gathering Spot, Frugal Days Sustainable Ways, Health 2day, Whole Food Wednesday,This Chick Cooks, Your Green Resource, Green Giveaways and Articles, Fresh Bites Friday and Fight Back Friday.