So THAT Didn’t Work

Organic gardening, amiright?

So I’ve been battling squash bugs, which initially exclusively entailed hand squishing and crying. But then my brother Winston suggested diatomaceous earth. A bit of online reasearch confirmed it and also recommended neem oil. I excitedly dug in my garden shed and sprayed one evening and dusted the next.

While thoroughly drenching my plants in a maximum concentration of neem oil, the bugs showered without care. I believe one asked me to pass him the shampoo right before I squeezed his guts out.

The next evening I came armed with my bag of diatomaceous earth. Noticing that the neem oil seemed to have burned the leaves, but that there were no obvious legions of critters scurrying, I happily began heavily dusting everything I could. My adorable (yet idiotic) puppy rolled all around in the dusty squash beds and was subsequently bathed and banned from the garden. (The non-food grade DE is like 20% “other” ingredient(s)….and I’ll be damned if there’s a way to find out what it is.)

A few days later I realized that I had some withering, unpolinated squash and come to think of it, I hadn’t been seeing my normal crazy numbers of morning bees. Holy crap! Did I kill my bees? Or did they just break up with my garden because of my crazy DE cloud? I decided was time to rinse off the dust layer. Hopefully my weapon had been in place long enough to make the bugs go somewhere else (further than my poor ripening tomatoes they’re presently contaminating).

Rinse rinse rinse….huh. A few really yellow dead looking plants. And bugs. Lots of bugs. Scurrying around in the lovely shower. Scurry scurry scurry. They don’t give a fuuuck.

And check out these eggs that look like they got laid ON TOP of the diatomaceous earth.

Oh and lets not leave out the beauty of new life that hatched during my inactive battle.

I squished whatever I could easily see. Probably about 100 nymphs and adults. But I didn’t go hunting. I’m done. They won and I’m firing all the garden toads and spiders for incompetency.

But I may want to hire this guy. What he lacks in ability, he sure makes up for in tenacity.

This wasp was repeatedly trying to fly off with his dead grasshopper lunch.

Chickeny Chick Chick

I haven’t posted lately but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been doing stuff. I just haven’t had anything to really show for it yet.  We’re working on expanding the garden and my baby plants are growing (yes, even the ones I’ve disturbed by replanting…which is most of them by now). But one area of my farmy endeavors that has some sort of conclusion is the Chickens and their MITES! Yes, mites or lice or something.
For several weeks I’d had nagging guilt about not having a dust bath area for the girls. They don’t get outside of their coop enough and chickens need to dust themselves to control the buggies that like to chew on them. (Writing this post is making me itch…which is another story, but let’s continue.) Last Saturday I was outside working in the muddy saturated earth a bit with the biddies. Rosie looked a little disheveled, a couple of feathers poking out here and there and then I saw her shoot out a nice stream of diarrhea. Great. I thought I’d been seeing too much gooey shit in the coop. So I flipped her over and looked at her vent area and between the feathers on her hind quarters. Critters. Flesh colored and fast moving. Lots of them. Now mind you, mites can actually kill chickens if they get bad enough. So action was needed.
I built a dusting area that very day with bricks and old sand from our dead hermit crab’s tank and ordered a big bag of food grade diatomaceous earth online. I realize that this may not work, but I still think it’s worth a shot before succumbing to poison.
Rain poured all the next day, soaking my dusting area and rendering it temporarily useless. The diatomaceous earth came on Tuesday and Gordon went outside with me when I got home from work to hold a light while I dusted them in the dark. That was an experience.
So anyway, today’s project was to clean out the infested coop, dust the place, put in new bedding, and dust the girls again.

So I did that, after much struggle.  They weren’t really fans, but I think I got them pretty good.

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Dusty Rosie

And happily, they are now using the dusting area!

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But the BEST NEWS of the day is that my disney fantasy is coming to fruition.  Soon enough, the chickens will be riding around on Wendell while they all sing animal songs together and help me with my chores!

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And I almost forgot:  Juniper is now laying as of yesterday!  So we have three healthy laying hens….hopefully the mites won’t take that away.  (They won’t.  I’ll win against those little bastards one way or another.)