How I loathe the Colorado Potato Beetle

I realize I haven’t posted anything in a while.  My apologies.   I missed talking about our nation’s birthday among other things.  I promise to get back on track.  There are always things to write about.  It is just a matter of focusing and getting into the right mindset.  Well the mindset I am in right now is my bitter contempt for the Colorado Potato Beetle.   My question to all you gardeners out there –  where did they come from? What were they eating before I planted my potatoes and eggplants?

A little back story –  three years ago we first starting growing potatoes as we had just moved here to Tunbridge.  The first year was amazing!  Just a small handful of pests and the plants did fine – bumper crop.  Hey,  I can do this!  Growing potatoes is easy.  The next year I did what everyone suggests and rotated where I planted the next crop.   The potato field where I grow is down a small hill on our land so I just planted them and forgot about them thinking that things would be great just like the year before.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.   When I finally went down to check on them later in the season I saw what an army of motivated, hungry CPB’s can do.  The plants were a wreck – holding on for dear life – the leaves in fragments –  totally ravaged.  The CPB’s had a feeding frenzy every day down there with nothing to stop them.  I got a very meager crop that year.  It was depressing and quite an eye opener of how a garden can go to pieces if untended.  This year I was determined to fight back!  I talked to my go-to-growing guru – Ray Williams of Back Beyond Farm about organic suggestions to battle the CPB’s. As he is an organic farmer I completely trust his methods for unwanted guest control.   He suggested the Monterey Garden Insect Spray as well as putting in the cocktail an addition of  Neptune’s Harvest which is a fish emulsion.  I never thought that you could combine an organic insecticide with plant growing nutrients but it is all true.   You can.  Ask your local extension agent and they will say the same thing.  This might not be news to you but it was to me.   I also did the morning rounds going down to the potato field with my jar filled with water and some soap to break the surface tension and filled it up with the drowned corpses of CPBs as well as their orange larvae.  The efforts have paid off for the potatoes –  they are doing quite well this year with the exception of the blue potatoes I planted.  Despite my efforts they still took a pretty  big hit.  We’ll see how many blue taters I get come harvest time.

And the eggplants are a lost cause –  I will never try to grow them again.   As Ray put it –  the CPB’s might really  like potato plants but they ADORE eggplants.  There is nothing left of my eggplants.  Completely devastated. And the funny thing is I don’t really find the beetles on the plants when I check on them.  It is like they did commando raids in the dead of night and then vanished.   Eggplants are a funny vegetable in the first place.  They are the vegetable equivalent of tofu in my opinion.   It is something that you use as a medium to add flavor from something else but on its own is pretty boring – like tofu.  I gave them a shot because I love their cool purple color and shape but the CPB’s won’t let me grow them.

My next post I’ll get back to the baking.    Happy Gardening!

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