Only 53 hours left in our kickstarter!

New rewards and stretch goals. CLICK HERE!



  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

First (EVER!) Veggie Garden, Already Got Pests!  RSS feed

 
Belinda Pepper
Posts: 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi everyone! I'm new to Permies, but not new to the concept. The thing is, I'm not a green-thumb. I'm a 26-year-old gardening newbie. The only garden I ever built (before now) was a rock garden with succulents. Yeah. Was going great until a typical Queensland hail storm blasted all my agave to pieces.

ANYHOO.

I've moved to a country town near the New South Wales/ Victoria border, so I've got hot and dry summers now, with wet and frosty winters. The ground is mostly compacted clay.

The previous owners were old, so their gardens were neglected. When I moved in, what used to be the veggie patch was overgrown with weeds. Unfortunately the free ground cover seemed to do little to help the soil- there was a lot of clay, and no detectable life besides the weed cover. I'd like to turn this corner of the yard into a compost area, seeing as the neighbour's trees and vines keep the area in shadow most of the year now.

Another area where the previous owners had food gardens was between the two (yes two) garden sheds. There were raspberries growing up the sides of the sheds on a trellis, and a sad little citrus tree (strangled by lawn and unable to get its roots through the clay) sat plonked in the middle of that area. Because this area gets a lot of sun year-round (when the winter sun decides to poke its head out, it hits that spot), I decided to put the main veggie patch here, between the sheds.



I would LOVE to go all-out with swales and forest gardens and whatnot, but the house belongs to relatives, so I'm limited to what they'll let me do.

I got the beds from Aldi ($30 each compared to $100 each for the same thing elsewhere). First, I chipped up the lawn, dug up the raspberries and citrus "tree" (which I put in a separate pot), and then dug down about a foot to give a proper bed for the pavers (rellies wanted something more "tidy" than chipbark/mulch paths). Laid down cracker dust, little bit of cement, laid the pavers. The beds have been forked with gypsum dusted over the clay, and then the beds were filled with fully-aged mixed compost and a little vermiculite.

I TRIED to raise some organic seeds I bought, but it's been a lousy failure so far. When I first planted them (in seedling trays with a plastic cover), the warm sunny weather freakishly reverted back to winter for almost 2 full weeks. Guess I didn't get my time frames right. It was cold, damp, and the seeds died. I waited a while, until I was sure the last of the winter weather was over, then sowed some more seeds in seedling trays. The temperature dropped AGAIN (hey, I'm from Queensland- I don't understand this climate!). I put the tray out in the sun in an attempt to warm up the soil a bit. Then the temperature (over the course of the day) got super hot, and the seeds died off. Again. Told ya I'm not a green thumb!
Needless to say, I've put started plants from the nursery into my beds.

One thing I've noticed, since the weather warmed up, are little clouds of bugs flying up from the grass when I walk through the yard in the morning. I didn't think much about them at first, until I noticed that some parsley growing next to the patio had white spots all over it:



The same thing has been happening to the grass. Now that I've got my beds up, I notice the same bugs flying out of the beds when I water in the morning. And my baby eggplant isn't looking its best either, after just two nights in the ground:



I looked around online for some info on these bugs, and I'm pretty sure I've got a whitefly problem!

What are some organic methods of clearing out whitefly? I'm getting some nasturtiums as soon as possible (the nursery had run out when I was there the other day), and I've got marigolds already in the bed (yet to flower). Should I get some rosemary growing as well? I saw someone mention making an onion, garlic, and cayenne pepper "tea", and spraying the plants (particularly the undersides) with that. Is there any other organic methods I can employ?

I saw this little beetle on the eggplant as well- is he a good guy or a bad guy?



I've got basil, marigold, parsley, capsicums, and tomatoes growing in my beds at the moment. If I can get a crop growing this season, while not having a clue what the heck I'm doing, I hereby declare that ANYONE can garden!
 
Jeff Reiland
Posts: 67
Location: Central Iowa
3
bike forest garden hunting
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Very tidy looking garden! I'm also new, have poked around on Permies before but this is my first post
The marigolds are good, any flowers that attract predators are good. You could try the "tea" method you referenced or even a mild soap solution that will suffocate them. Just be careful of overdoing it and hitting any beneficial insects. If you've got a vacuum with a long cord you could suck them up before they fly away. I've heard a reflective (foil) mulch should help, I just have never tried it, don't think it would be very natural/attractive.
I don't know what the other bug is you pictured, just watch for feeding damage until you find out. Good luck!
 
Leila Rich
steward
Posts: 3999
Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
88
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Welcome to permies Belinda
Growing plants can be quite a technical business!
Here's a few things that have helped me out...

Mulch: it is absolutely vital in a dry climate. Dried out lawn clippings, commercial pea straw. Get some on there now!
Clay:
Belinda Pepper wrote: there was a lot of clay
Clay is awesome.
I live on pure sand, and while I agree that if clay's unloved it sets like concrete or turns to mud;
it holds water and nutrients like nothing else if you add organic matter like compost, used coffee grounds, aged manure...
When I work with sand, I don't dig much. With unamended clay, I'd fork it over fairly deeply, tipping compost into the gaps left by digging.

Soil:
Belinda Pepper wrote: the beds were filled with fully-aged mixed compost and a little vermiculite
what you need is real mineral soil.
Compost and vericulite aren't it. That clay though...

Water: I'm extremely wary about raised beds outside cold, wet climates. My raised bed frames are great for stopping mulch blowing away though...

Seeds:
Belinda Pepper wrote: I TRIED to raise some organic seeds I bought, but it's been a lousy failure so far

I suggest starting plants from seed when you're feeling more comfortable with growing stuff,
although there's lots of things I'd try direct-seeding now like zucchini, calendula, lettuce, cosmos, sunflower...
It's important with seed-sowing to only cover them with an equal depth of soil to their size.
Most seeds are buried so deeply they don't have the energy to surface.

So...
It can take at least a couple of years for everything to find a balance. When I started gardening, I had all sorts of sap-sucking insects show up,
as everything was 'out of whack'.

Here's my edited suggestions: next season, fork the native clay through the compost mix, adding loads more organic matter, mulch again.
If you like broad beans, they're a great plant to direct seed in the autumn, that produce in late spring.
They're unlikely to fix nitrogen unless they're inoculated, but that's another story

PS, the beetle looks like a weevil
 
Belinda Pepper
Posts: 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Jeff Reiland wrote:Very tidy looking garden! I'm also new, have poked around on Permies before but this is my first post
The marigolds are good, any flowers that attract predators are good. You could try the "tea" method you referenced or even a mild soap solution that will suffocate them. Just be careful of overdoing it and hitting any beneficial insects. If you've got a vacuum with a long cord you could suck them up before they fly away. I've heard a reflective (foil) mulch should help, I just have never tried it, don't think it would be very natural/attractive.
I don't know what the other bug is you pictured, just watch for feeding damage until you find out. Good luck!


Thanks Jeff! Honoured to be your first post!
I've got a cordless Dyson vacuum cleaner- the idea of sucking the little bugs up sounds crazy, but fun! I suck up big blowflies from inside the house, after all.


Leila Rich wrote:Welcome to permies Belinda
Growing plants can be quite a technical business!
Here's a few things that have helped me out...

Mulch: it is absolutely vital in a dry climate. Dried out lawn clippings, commercial pea straw. Get some on there now!


Thanks, Leila! YUP, I was hoping to have the mulch already, but my brother is notoriously unreliable with bringing his ute around. I'm hoping tomorrow he'll bring it over so I can pick up a bunch of mulch. Probably straw bales (seedless), as I found a place that's super cheap and I'll be needing bales for when I get some chooks, anyway. Or is straw a mistake?

Leila Rich wrote:Clay:
Belinda Pepper wrote: there was a lot of clay
Clay is awesome.
I live on pure sand, and while I agree that if clay's unloved it sets like concrete or turns to mud;
it holds water and nutrients like nothing else if you add organic matter like compost, used coffee grounds, aged manure...
When I work with sand, I don't dig much. With unamended clay, I'd fork it over fairly deeply, tipping compost into the gaps left by digging.

Soil:
Belinda Pepper wrote: the beds were filled with fully-aged mixed compost and a little vermiculite
what you need is real mineral soil.
Compost and vericulite aren't it. That clay though...


Yeah, now the weather has heated up, the clay has baked hard. During the winter, when it rains non-stop, it turns to muddy slush. It's a pain in the butt, especially because I have no idea how to "amend" all that clay under the massive lawn (I'm not allowed to dig up too much of the lawn). Not to mention that the water puddles on top of it in the winter too. Blah.
I always got told that clay sucks, and you should just add gypsum and/or get rid of it (of course, these were traditional farmer folk, not permies). There's still some room in the beds for a little top-dressing, is it too late to add some more of the clay-based dirt I dug out for the pavers?

Leila Rich wrote:
Water: I'm extremely wary about raised beds outside cold, wet climates. My raised bed frames are great for stopping mulch blowing away though...


I've got a massive water tank for irrigation, but you make a good point. I put raised beds in PRIMARILY because I was already busting my butt digging out for the pavers- I didn't want to dig the full depth down for the beds. I didn't realise that clay soil could be so quickly amended! I've got a lot more beds that I want to put in (more room for veggies, and I want to plant some fruit trees & comfrey). I'll try to amend the existing soil there!


Leila Rich wrote:Seeds:
Belinda Pepper wrote: I TRIED to raise some organic seeds I bought, but it's been a lousy failure so far

I suggest starting plants from seed when you're feeling more comfortable with growing stuff,
although there's lots of things I'd try direct-seeding now like zucchini, calendula, lettuce, cosmos, sunflower...
It's important with seed-sowing to only cover them with an equal depth of soil to their size.
Most seeds are buried so deeply they don't have the energy to surface.


I *think* I covered the seeds to the correct depth (I could be wrong). The only seeds that shot up well were the leeks, which were just plain store-bought, not organic. They died off in the heat when I went away for a few days (my sister kept an eye on everything except for the leeks- she didn't realise they were there). To bolster my confidence a bit, I might stick to transplants for now.


Leila Rich wrote:So...
It can take at least a couple of years for everything to find a balance. When I started gardening, I had all sorts of sap-sucking insects show up,
as everything was 'out of whack'.

Here's my edited suggestions: next season, fork the native clay through the compost mix, adding loads more organic matter, mulch again.
If you like broad beans, they're a great plant to direct seed in the autumn, that produce in late spring.
They're unlikely to fix nitrogen unless they're inoculated, but that's another story


Thanks! I'll definitely do that! The organic place I got my seeds from had a lot of good nitrogen-fixing plants, but we all know of my poor management of seeds right now. I'll get there! I've got some comfrey growing too, which will hopefully be some good mulching/compost for the beds.

Leila Rich wrote:PS, the beetle looks like a weevil


Woah, I've never seen a weevil that big before, and they've always been black. But I AM new to the area, and that thing HAS got a very distinct weevil-y shape. Gah. Where are all the good guys? The only other life I've seen in the yard is one cabbage moth, one ladybird, and one bee. Come on, marigolds!

Thanks so much for the comments! Two comments and I've already got loads of info. You guys are awesome.
 
Rebecca Norman
gardener
Posts: 1207
Location: Ladakh, Indian Himalayas at 10,500 feet, zone 5
120
food preservation greening the desert solar trees
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Leila Rich wrote:
It can take at least a couple of years for everything to find a balance. When I started gardening, I had all sorts of sap-sucking insects show up,
as everything was 'out of whack'.


I was going to say something like this. Here where our gardens are on land that was bare soil, the first year of each garden plot was pretty bad, and the early years in the greenhouses were desperate with aphids though we tried all those soapy-garlicky-chilli sprays to no avail. But as a couple years pass, it seems to develop its ecosystem of predators and pests in balance, and probably the soil improves year by year with adding compost, and now we don't have serious pest problems (expect the local dzo-yaks who break the barbed wire and eat everything!). You're starting vegetables on soil that had only lawn and a few struggling other plants, so there's not much of an ecosystem. If you're able to continue on the same land, you might find that some types of plants have problems this year but work themselves out next year, and others will have problems next year, but it will get better as time goes by. So this year maybe expect to lose some plants, have some be less than perfect, and some will turn out great.
 
Time is mother nature's way of keeping everything from happening at once. And this is a tiny ad:
Mike Oehler's Low-Cost Underground House Workshop & Survival Shelter Seminar - 3 DVD+2 Books Deal
https://permies.com/wiki/48625/Mike-Oehler-Cost-Underground-House
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!