Balcony Garden Pests

Hello friends,

Summer is in full swing in sunny Ca-li-forn-eye-ay and my balcony garden has come to life!  It’s quite the jungle out there on the 4 X 10 space reserved for a table, two chairs, a grill, and an overflowing garden of herbs and vegetables.

Then and now garden

To update you on a few things from the last post, I ended up not using fertilizer.  About once per week I dumped my used coffee grounds in the soil, but the plants grew just fine without chemicals.

I pruned the basil here and there for sprinkling on dishes, but I also had enough to make pesto every few weeks.  Having homegrown and homemade pesto on hand at all times was well worth the effort.

And it was an effort.  Let me tell you.

About a month into the gardening endeavor I started to notice giant holes in my basil.  Soon the holes spread to my tomato plant and eventually spread to my bell pepper.  Somebody was eating my hard-earned vegetable bounty!

I read about all sorts of natural bug repellent remedies on the internet like creating a beer/soap trench for the bugs to drown in, sprinkling banana peels in the soil, etc.  As it turns out, it is much more effective to identify the pest and then find the appropriate remedy.

caterpillar

I posted this picture on Facebook and instantly got several comments that I had caterpillars (caterpillar=not pictured, caterpillar poop=full frontal).  Sure enough, I found one big beast wrapping himself in a cocoon in a basil leaf.  Filthy bastard!

The trick to killing the little jerks is to mix in a saucepan over medium heat 2 cups water with anything spicy and a small amount of dish soap.  I added what we had on hand, which was chopped garlic, onion, jalapeno, cayenne pepper, and red pepper flakes.  Then I put the concoction in a spray bottle to spritz the plants down every few days (make sure to spray at night because the soap might burn leaves in hotter temps).

The pest situation is finally under control AND the tomatoes are actually starting to ripen!  Tomatoes are ready to eat when they turn red and pulling them off the vine takes almost no effort at all.

tomatoes

I made a lovely caprese salad with these 3 beauties earlier this week.  They were sweet and mild and oh so satisfying.  I highly recommend planting your own mini garden because it is definitely rewarding.

How do you deal with garden pests?  What’s the worst critter you’ve battled?

-Mads

P.s. If you noticed I neglected to mention the cilantro, there is a reason.  More updates to come.

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6 thoughts on “Balcony Garden Pests

  1. Give us other updates! You’re done with coursework, but not field work? You’re volunteering with an HIV/AIDS group? When does the job search kick into gear? Are you going on trips this summer? How did you celebrate your one year anniversary? What’s it like living so close to your husband’s family but not your own? The people demand answers!

    • haha I will do some life updates next week. There have been a lot of new things going on and still more to come! Thanks for the suggestions. 🙂

  2. Your comments about pesto got me craving pesto again. Do you have a favorite recipe? I seem to have lost custody of mine

  3. I really wish you would have snapped a photo of Jonathan as he discovered the tobacco caterpillar. Those suckers are huge and hugely destructive. All in all, I’m very impressed with the progress of your balcony garden. Yay for homegrown tomatoes!

  4. Yes! Thank you for the tip — I just planted a second round of late summer greens and will definitely be using your spicy concoction to ward off the critters that are most likely teeming around our new place.

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