Tag Archives: garden pests

Bugs in My Garden

We went away for 3 days. When we left, my little herb and vegetable garden looked great, like this leaf lettuce plant. When we returned, well, not so much. It had been invaded by grubs. I find it odd that they munched only on the lettuce plants.

Healthy Leaf Lettuce - mlm c@

The first thing I do when returning from a trip is to wander through my garden checking on plants, deadheading flowers, watering anything that needs a cooling drink. I’m usually impressed with how things have grown while we were away. This time, however, I was dismayed at part of what I saw. The critters had invaded while we were away! This is one of the only three Red Sails lettuce plants left and it is tiny.

Lone Lettuce mlm c@

Below is what is left of 8 small but beautiful leaf-lettuce plants. Along with those three Red Sails is one Bibb lettuce plant — still there, but looking pitiful.

Here’s my once-pretty lettuce bed:

Lettuce MissingWhen we left for a get-away weekend, there were 4 rows of lettuce plants, Red Sails, Butter and Crunch, Bibb, etc., planted along both sides of each of the soaker hoses. Grubs had eaten the roots of all the lettuce plants. The 2 in the foreground of this photo are the only ones that may survive. There are others, barely visible in the photo, that probably won’t make it. The nice green plants at the top of this photo are Brussels sprouts. Fortunately, the grubs didn’t seem to find them appetizing.

My Once-Beautiful Parsley, Before and After:

The leaves of the parsley were eaten by a black worm with yellow stripes. I had a photo of him, but it seems to have vanished. Will the parsley  come back again? Only time will tell.


Flat Parsley - mlm c@

Parsley - bug bitten - mlm c@


Insecticidal Soap

I have sprayed the parsley with my favorite organic insecticidal soap. It is safe for use on vegetables, fruit trees, and flowers.





I have now moved some of the Brussels sprouts and cauliflower plants that were too crowded into part of the lettuce space. Next thing to do is sow some seeds of Mesclun Mix, and hope that I soon have some greens for salads. Wish me luck.

Gardens Grow Even When the Gardener is Away

Basil - picked - mlm c

This is a lot of basil.

Whether you are at home or away, your garden keeps growing. On Monday evening, I returned from a wonderful visit with my daughter. Even though I was gone less than a week, I could see a lot of growth in my tiny garden. The basil had grown far too tall — one stem was trying to bolt, so I immediately pinched off that flower bud. The rosemary is getting tall, too. It will soon need trimming. My spaghetti squash plant had produced a new baby squash.

The next morning, I cut back the basil. The above photo shows how much I got from only 3 plants. This container is one of those buckets that you put ice into for keeping bottled and canned drinks cold during a party or cookout. It was running over with basil. That’s a lot of basil.

Normally, I wouldn’t cut more than 3 inches or so from any herb plant at any one time. This basil was so very overgrown, I decided to go ahead and remove a lot more than that. I don’t recommend doing that on a routine basis, because it really isn’t good for the plant. I had planned to begin a new painting today, but it looks  like I’m going to be busy drying and grinding basil this week. On the other hand, it will keep. I need to paint.

Pests on Basil

Basil with Worm - mlm c

The spaghetti squash and zucchini had trails of slug slime on the leaves, but no damage I could find. One of the basil leaves that I cut and brought into the house had this worm on it. It’s the same pest that was on Gina’s basil. Fortunately, this one was already dead from the insecticidal soap I had sprayed the evening I arrived home. Yeah, that black spot is what you think it is — he left me a little present, just like my dog does.

The Mandevilla Grew Rapidly While I Was Away

Two years ago, I planted a mandevilla on the screened end of our lanai, with the hope that it would someday provide privacy to that room. It quickly outgrew the small trellis I had chosen. The following summer, it was attacked by mealy bugs which nearly destroyed it. When it recovered, it grew at the top of the trellis, but didn’t put out new leaves on the lower part. The top part got longer and longer while simultaneously becoming top heavy.

Mandevilla on Trellis - mlm c

It became apparent that that trellis had to be replaced. We installed one of the ones you see in this photo, and I quickly saw I would soon need two more, one on each side of the first one. Those two were installed about three weeks ago (the one in this photo is one of them) but most of the vines were not quite long enough to stay wrapped around the trellis bars. Well, they are now!

When I returned from my trip I was amazed at how much they had grown. So I have now spent a lot of time on a step-stool untangling those high-up vines. It was like separating strands of cooked spaghetti. It looks so much better now, and I know that with the air being able to get to those formerly crowded vines, they will truly blossom. Pun intended.

Here’s a close-up view of one of those gorgeous flowers. It’s a new one that just opened. Notice how much lighter the pink color is when the flower first opens. In the photo above, you can see the difference between the older flowers and the newer ones.

Mandevilla - New Bloom - mlm c

Bracelet Fun

I finally finished that bracelet I was working on during my trip. There’s a close up photo of it on my last blog post. It’s at the top right in this photo. Except for the five-strand one designed by my daughter, these are my designs. She has far more intricate designs in her Etsy shop. Here’s the link: Designs by LolaBelle.

Bracelets I Made

I used to make prayer beads and pocket rosaries, along with the occasional bracelet, but am out of practice. I don’t have the grip I once had, and my vision isn’t what it once was. That made this tedious work more difficult. Without her help, I probably wouldn’t have finished these. Maybe I should stick to gardening, writing, and painting. Here are the bracelets I made — my favorites are the top two. The tiny green and white one is for our youngest granddaughter’s 5th birthday. It’s made of Swarovski crystals and pearls.  Okay, it’s time to get back to gardening. No, I’m going to paint. I plan to do a painting of the pink double hibiscus outside our back door. I think I will get something to eat first, though.


What’s Eating My Basil?

Gina's Basil copyrighted

My friend and neighbor, Gina, texted me some photos of her basil leaves this week. Unfortunately, the first one didn’t come in right away, so I saw only the 2nd and 3rd ones until just now. The above photo (the 2nd one to arrive) shows leaves with holes in them. The 3rd photo, below, shows a worm or caterpillar on a basil leaf. Here’s that little critter:

Gina's Basil Worm copyrighted

My Suggestion: insecticidal soap

Insecticidal Soap

GardenSafe is the brand I use, and is the same photo I texted back to Gina. Normally, I use Neem Oil because it doesn’t wash off  with rain, but this time of year it is so hot around here, the oil melts and slides right off the plants. Both of these products are safe to use on vegetable plans as well as flowers. I insist on organic gardening in my kitchen garden, and these products are perfect for that. The only down-side of the soap is that, after a rain, you will need to spray again. I got this insecticidal soap at Lowe’s, and my Neem Oil at Ace Hardware, but most any good garden center should have them.

Because I missed that first photo — it was late arriving in my in-box —  I didn’t see the whitish squiggly things that Gina mentioned, and told her it was probably mealy bugs. Now that I have seen it, I see I was wrong. The squiggles she mentioned appear to be trails left behind by slugs. For more information see my April 20, 2015, post entitled, Amy Asks What to Do About Snails.

Something weird is going on in cyberspace yet again:  I emailed all the photos to myself to get them on the computer, and again, the same one is the only one that hasn’t shown up yet. Those white squiggles Gina mentioned can be seen in the top photo above on part of a leaf showing out from the main one with holes in it. Looks like slug trails to me.

Amy Asks What to Do About Snails

I saw Amy again when my wonderful composted top soil for my new herb garden was delivered (see Raised Bed Kitchen Garden is Almost Complete. This is the same Amy who asked me why her hydrangeas wouldn’t bloom. She has been reading this blog — thank you, again, Amy — and reported that her hydrangeas are now blooming. While here, she said has a problem with snails and slugs eating her plants and leaving that slimy trail we’ve all seen in our planting beds and on hardscapes such as walks and patios, etc.

I immediately told her to put salt on them to kill them. I forgot to mention to Amy that she could also place shallow pans such as jar lids or saucers with beer in them in her garden. They will crawl into the beer, then drown. I suppose I was really excited about getting that soil into my new raised bed kitchen garden.

I suspect that what Amy meant (and what most of us mean) when we say snails, is actually slugs. Both of these pests leave that slimy trail, as well as holes in tender leaves. The slugs around here are typically black, as shown in the photo below. Snails have a coiled shell which they carry on their backs. The shells themselves can be very pretty. What a shame they belong to such nasty pests. The snails I have seen here are either brown, such as the one in the 2nd photo below, or a very light tan. Currently, I am seeing far more slugs than snails in my yard, which is why I suspect that may be Amy’s problem, too. Amy, please let me know.

Slug Zoomed - mlm

This nasty-looking slug, and 3 others were on our patio, headed toward my elephant ears, and some petunias. They all met a salty demise.


Unfortunately, the morning I took this photo of a snail, it was very humid due to overnight rain. My camera lens kept fogging up on me. This is the least foggy photo I could get.

Snail Zoomed Adjusted - mlm

This snail was clinging to the stucco of our home, just above some tender hosta, caladiums, and fern. He, too, is no longer with us.


Following my conversation with Amy, I promised to look up more information about this problem. I referred to Rodale’s  Good Bug, Bad Bug. Here’s what I found:

The first thing I learned was that the jar lids or shallow pans should be sunk into the soil so that the lip of the pan is flush with the ground. It seems so obvious, I hate I didn’t think of that myself. The book did not say they would drown — only that they would be trapped. It also suggested traps such as grapefruit rinds, pots, and boards, which should be checked every morning. It’s then up to the gardener to destroy those trapped.

I cannot use the grapefruit rind method. We do not eat grapefruit because of interaction with certain medications. If you are taking antihistamines or certain cardiac medications, as well as other medicines, whether over-the-counter and prescription, please DO NOT eat grapefruit or drink grapefruit juice without first consulting a pharmacist. (I should probably mention, I am a masters’ level public health educator, too.)

Both snails and slugs prefer decaying leaves and flowers, but will also eat tender leaves, bulbs, and even stems. They will attack all tender plants, and can completely wipe out seedlings or new shoots. They are most active during periods of frequent rainfall, which is what we are having as I write this. Both of these critters’ colors can vary, of course, to include green, gray, tan and black. They can also have dark spots or patterned skin.

Rodale says both snails and slugs have eggs which are clear, are either round or oval, and are “…laid in jellylike masses under stones or  garden debris…”  They may lay eggs under any boards that may be put out as traps for the parents, too.

Amy, I hope this helps. I have a feeling we will be fighting these critters for the duration of our rainy season, which seems to have begun early this year.