Monday, 21 March 2016

This is WAR!

Over the past few years I've been noticing an increasing population of shield bugs in the vegetable garden - they particularly enjoy my tomatoes.

They are sucking insects and, up until this year, have caused a bit of damage to my tomato and capsicum crops, but not enough to worry too much.

This year, though, they pretty much rendered my sauce tomato crop unusable - I will not be bottling any tomato products this year - as there were so many of them and not enough predators to keep their numbers down.

Normally I like to let things take it's natural course, but the impact of these guys has been so bad that I've had to take drastic measures. So, to get their numbers down before they find places to overwinter, I am declaring war.

Action plan 1: All of the tomato plants I've pulled or pruned have gone into the steel bin of death. Yeah. That's right. I cram them in there, pour boiling water over and let those guys steam. Pretty much instant death.

Action plan 2: I walk around the garden 3 or 4 times a day with a bucket of very hot water, go to the favourite shield bug haunts, hand pick them and throw in the water.

Action plan 3: When there's no bucket handy - I squash them. I'm walking around with perpetually stained hands from the ones on the red capsicums.

It's a bit intense, but when you start waking up in the middle of the night worrying about the hoards of bugs destroying your plants, you've got to do something - and, you know what? It's making a big impact. Numbers are significantly down. I'm still getting lots, but I have to search for them now. Before they were everywhere!

Today on one of my walk-arounds I spotted this guy. He's a little late, but he's on my side, so let's hope there's a heap more troops hanging around out of site to help me out with the stragglers. I also found a little frog in the silver beet but he was too quick for me to get a photo.

The plan for next year? As soon as I see any sign of shield bugs in the garden I'll be on to them!

This week I also pulled out the last of the summer cabbages. I left it a bit late and about half of the remaining ones had started to go to seed, but the Jersey enjoyed those - cabbage is one of her favourites!