Garden Spider and Beetles

Garden spider
Our friend Barbara sends the following news:

For the past few weeks we’ve been in the asparagus patch daily, picking Japanese beetles off the plants.  At first, there were hundreds, but of late just a few or none.

At one point, this wonderful spider appeared with her web in the tops of the plants.  She wanted to catch the numerous beetles;  I guess she finds them tasty.

First she spent time adding a vague white design down the center of the web, and a few days later pulled this material into the lovely zig zag pattern you see below her.    Maybe bugs find that attractive?

When she caught a beetle, she wrapped it completely in her silk like a neat package, and these were placed on the web for future dinner …. we saw as many as four of these bug packages attached to the web — but once she was done with the meals, the bug-packages were cast off.

In this photo (it took many tries to get one in focus), she is eating her last package…she huddles over the bug bundle, sticks her jaw into the package, manipulates the package with her elegant long legs, and neatly seems to pull out the insides of the bug.

Such simple entertainment.  We’ve spent hours watching her patient progress.

Now I know why EB White spun that wonderful children’s tale about Charlotte. Maybe it is time to re-read that story?   Doesn’t she give Wilbur advice about life, and other good things? It’s a good thing we didn’t spray anything on the plants to kill the bugs — look what we got instead!

Late Blight in Garden

Our tomato plants have been attacked by blight. It is very bad news. William has removed all but three of his tomatoes (those remaining will be gone soon). He also cut back his potatoes to the ground. We only have a week to really deal with the issue.

If you have any qualms about removing your plants, you need to know that this could ruin the soil at the community gardens for years. William is going to speak to each gardener that he sees and tell them the news, and what to look for. It is important to be ruthless. Removing individual leaves does nothing to stop the mold from spreading. Every garden William has looked at has blight already. The biggest problem is going to be with gardeners who are away.

We need to have all of the diseased plants out by Wednesday. If you don’t remove them, the garden committee will…it’s terrible but it has to be done.

Late Blight Strikes Tomato and Potato Growers Statewide

Press release, July 30, 2009

by Dr. Vern Grubinger, University of Vermont Extension

It’s been an exceptionally rainy and cool summer and one of the consequences is that Late Blight disease has been reported in every corner of Vermont and across the Northeast. With these weather conditions Late Blight rapidly kills the foliage of tomato and potato plants. Many hundreds of farmers and gardeners have already been stricken, and it is likely that the situation will get worse unless the weather turns hot and dry.

Late Blight is caused by a fungus, Phytophthora infestans, and it’s the same disease that led to the Irish potato famine almost 150 years ago. The disease is not directly harmful to people as it only infects potatoes, tomatoes, and some related weeds.

The good news is that the disease does not persist in the soil from year to year, so with proper action, farmers and gardeners should be able to avoid this problem next year. In addition, infected potato crops may still yield edible tubers if the diseased foliage is destroyed soon after infection is observed.

Continue reading Late Blight Strikes Tomato and Potato Growers Statewide