ok, so we have 300lbs of potatoes planted and doing well...that is till the last week when we found potato beatles!!! AGGRRR!! What is a good cheap way to get rid of these little beasts? we tried dish soap and hot sauce but it didn't do much good. They've plowed through probably close to a dozen or so plants (striped them right down to the stalk).
Our chickens and ducks wandered through our potatoes last year pretty freely. Chickens pecked at insects on the leaves, we didn't have any sort of problem even though everyone else in the village ritually sprays against the beetles.
Supposedly foliar sprays of sea minerals and/or kelp fix everything, at least according to various articles in Acres USA...
This year I did what I have read about in biodynamic writings. I have been making comfrey tea (along with any other weed I find to through in) and when I find larva or adults I through them in the barrel to stew with the rest of it. I have two barrels and use one every other week so that each has two weeks to ferment. At the end of two weeks I "dynatised" the sollution by stirring one way with a canoe paddle until you get a vortex then go the other way until you get a vortex. Do this for an hour (it isn't so bad once you have done it a couple of times). I am happy to report that I haven't seen any beetles since I started watering with this mixture 3 weeks ago. Good luck.
I'm seeing that diligent hand picking was rewarding. It's seems to me that bugs come in waves so If you can pick them off a few times a day for a week or so, you can avoid most of the onslaught. I have only 15 lbs of potatoes but once the beetles came I picked them off, and crushed them, once in the morning and once at night diligently. I left the bodies near the plants as a warning to others. I think I read in another forum that somebody was crushing them and making a tea/spray and applying that to the plants. Something about the smell of dead kin deters newcomers. Now that the majority of the local beetles have settled into the neighbors fields, I find only one or two a week and graciously apply the crush.
Of course now I'm inundated with cucumber beetles and squash bugs. Ever crush a squash bug or stink bug with your hands??? NASTY but effective. THEY POP!
thanks for the help guys, I'll have to try everything, I was also given the suggestion of using garlic and dawn letting it sit for a couple days then mixing it with water.
As for where it is, it's actually on a separate piece of property from our house, about 5 total acres, about 2.5 tilled. I'm going to put a chicken tractor out there, but don't have the money to put up anything to keep the chickens we do have in the area to eat the beatles, though I would jump at that if I could.
If squeezing the critters causes discomfort, drop them into a bucket of soapy water.
I spread out my plants. Rather than putting all my potatoes in one spot, I've got some in the front, some along the fence, some over by the well house, some up in the corner. Should I happen to get bugs in a patch of plants, the distance slows or prevents them from jumping to the next group. I might lose a group, but the other groups have a chance. I do this with all the crops, not just the potatoes.
Seed the Mind, Harvest Ideas.