Tuesday, July 29, 2014

You've come a long way, baby

Is there a pepper in the house?
The pic above is the raised bed I first photographed in The Lazy Man's Raised Beds.  If you look carefully, you can see evidence of that bed under the nasturtiums, mustard, dill, cilantro, garlic, chives, marigolds, basil, radishes, and, oh yeah, peppers in the pic.  The raised beds have done their jobs, as have the companion herbs - my pepper harvest is off the charts. No so much the radishes, which is fine, as I dislike them anyway. I only added them because they cover the ground quickly and I don't like to weed. Tossing them all on the mulch pile was no loss.

But the thing I'm not sure about is the flowers.  As you can see, the nasturtiums on the left and the marigolds on the right (both in front and back) look good. They seem to be thriving in this cramped and mixed environment.*  But I'm not sure I'm sold on their companion-plant, insect-repelling ability.

The last couple weeks have been pretty dry.**  And I have noted a pretty good invasion of the neighboring horseradish, both by cabbage moths and grasshoppers. The former I've taken to using for tennis practice, while my chickens are enjoying the tasty crunch of lots of the other. Still, I have both good and bad bugs in this bed and especially in my tomatoes. Bugs are not eating the fruits, but every tomato I pick is covered with black bug poop.

I don't know that I ever expected the mix of plants to keep the bugs out completely - I know enough about online 'expertise' to reduce my expectations of promised results considerably.  Nor do I know the answer to the critical question of how bad the bugs would have been without this companion planting.  And while I have been tempted a couple times this week to break out the Sevin Dust and nuke the bastards, I have not done so yet. If only because, if I don't figure out pest control now, it's not going to be any easier in future years.***

So we'll be watching carefully to see if the bugs chewing my leaves actually do any damage to the harvest. Given that I'm already harvesting apples, pumpkins, and other things I had not expected to touch until September, those bugs just might be too late to the party anyway. What a shame.

* Diversity, FTW!
** Not Huck dry, but pretty dry compared to the wonderful spring where it rained seemingly every other day.
*** Plus I have a mother lode of dragonflies out there that I don't want to kill.

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