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Saturday, September 3, 2011

Another Hit to my Garden

While I have been enjoying the bounty of my 1st organic garden, I have come up against some interesting and frustrating problems as well. First was the stray cat who thought that I constructed several large litter boxes for him as he continually dug up seeds and seedlings while doing his business. Despite his sometimes daily visits to my gardens, most of my plants and seeds managed to survive. Next came the painters who started to pressure wash the house with a bleach solution blasting bleach water & old paint chips all over my garden beds. When they came back to paint, though they covered one bed, it apparently wasn't good enough since all the plants in all my garden beds were misted with white paint. I had to throw away loads of lettuce that was painted. I had to throw out some beans and peas as well, but many plants were flowering and have since produced plenty of paint-free edibles. 

Today, I discovered another little surprise in my garden as the kids & I were playing in the sprinkler on this hot & humid day. Many of my pepper plants were leafless! They looked like twigs sticking up out of the ground! I wondered for a few minutes what could be causing that sort of damage. A rabbit? A deer? But why just the pepper plants? Then I noticed a leaf that didn't look quite right. It was curled up kind of odd. I looked a wee bit harder and I saw the leaf moving ever so slightly. Then my eyes focused on it a bit more clearly. It wasn't a leaf at all but a huge, fat, green caterpillar with a red spike on it's end! It was hungrily devouring a pepper leaf at an amazing rate. I looked around for something I could use to get it off my plant. I ran to the house and found the mini pet cage and went back to the garden. I used one of my bamboo garden stakes to try to pop it off the plant, but it put up quite the fight, spitting loads of icky looking green goo out at the bamboo. I'm glad I didn't try to touch it. I finally managed to pull it off the plant and into the cage. He was at least 3 inches long. I couldn't believe the amount of damage he had done to the pepper plants. I started back to playing with the kids and a few minutes later, I noticed another one on another plant! This time, I went inside and grabbed a pair of metal tongs to try to make it a faster removal. This one spit green goo as well, but it ran down the plant. I hope it isn't harmful to the plant. I ended up snapping a small bit of the plant off in the process because the caterpillar just wouldn't let go. After a couple moments in the cage, both caterpillars were clinging to the stem. I don't know what will become of them now but I am quite angry at them for destroying my peppers!
Aren't they ugly? I looked them up online and they are some sort of sphinx moths though I wasn't sure exactly which one. 

How quickly they can strip a plant! Several plants actually!

Even with the caterpillars gorging themselves on my plants, a couple of the plants have a wee pepper on them. I am hopeful that we may get 1 or 2 more peppers before growing season is over. 

The rest of the garden is doing surprisingly well and I plan to have an update post on that soon. Maybe even later tonight!

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