the outdoor gardens are pretty well wrapped up for the season – but that doesn’t mean the growing activity has come to a halt. we still have plenty of fun in the hoop house. i love, love, love growing in the hoop house. i’m so happy to have the space and it has increased our production remarkably.
the cooler temperatures means that most pests are done victimizing our food. cabbage aphids are the exception – they love this kind of weather, and extremely frustrating. more about them later.
in the hoop house it’s a bit warmer and so we are still suffering from more pest activity. we are dealing with two major pest problems.
these are a couple of cabbage worms – or they might be loopers. without exploring their undersides, it’s hard to tell at least for me. my entomologist friends i’m sure could figure it out. loopers have a section in the middle of their underside which is missing legs. cabbage worms have legs all along their bodies.
it doesn’t really matter though if they are cabbage worms or loopers. they do the same thing, eat all the brassicas, and they are dealt with in the same way. large-scale situations out in the field usually mean calling in the organically approved pesticide dipel. but i don’t like using any pesticides, and so usually that is a last resort. in the hoop house handpicking is usually more that adequate. with cool overcast weather, like we have been having they tend to come out to feed, and spotting them is not too hard. noticing the small dark green balls of poop helps to find them too. if you want to impress your friends, would can use the technical term for insect poop – frass. pick em up and crush them. or if you are not into offing them, you could always feed them to yr chickens.
of more frustration to me is a four-legged pest: cats. freshly prepped beds look just a little too much like a giant litter box. it’s not just that cat poop is gross, it’s also dangerous. pregnant woman exposed to it can contract Toxoplasma gondii a protozoa which can cause severe birth defects. for the rest of us it’s not so dangerous, in fact its estimated that a full third of us are running around with this already in our system – so handle all the cat poop you want – just take a pregnancy test first. for more on toxo, i recommend listening to this radio lab – or if you are just really into parasites.
cats are difficult to deal with. once they pick a spot they return to it, and they are persistent, and squeeze though some pretty small holes. for a while i tried to dig the turds out and hope that was enough, that they would not return. that failed, and the next order of business was a trip to the korean grocery store for three pounds of ground red chilies – total cost 11.99. we sprinkled around the doors, the roll-up sides, and on the spots they had been making deposits. so far so good. no more cat problems, but its only been a week. i’ll keep refreshing the pepper for a couple of weeks to condition the kitties, and then hope that works at least for a couple of months.