August 2013 Archives

Yard and Garden Ideas for August

By Mary Frucelli


August is the time for endings and new beginnings in my garden and yard. My tomato plants are showing signs of stress, turning brown and not pumping out as much fruit as a month ago. My cherry tomatoes did do very well this year. The zucchini and cucumbers are shriveling and not producing flowers or fruit. My seed packets say you can plant seeds June through August, so I am attempting to revive my garden by replanting zucchini and cucumber seeds a second time. It will be interesting to see how these plants perform later in the season.

I will also prepare my raised bed for planting some fall/winter crops such as cabbage, garlic, lettuce, beets, radishes and chard by adding a new layer of compost. I purchased seeds from my local garden center and I am looking forward to a cool weather harvest.

We recently had a large tree removed from the side of our deck in the back yard. It was a very messy type of oak tree and although we will not miss cleaning up after it, we felt bad about cutting down such a large tree. We decided to cut and stack some of the wood to use in our fireplace this winter and had the trunk of the tree left about 10 feet high. My creative husband built a roof on top of the trunk and decided to decorate it with whimsical signs, bird feeders and bird houses. Many of these he made out of old scraps of wood and some paint. Our back yard resembles a state park, so we thought some interesting signs would be appropriate. Instead of leaving a stump we are now using this tree as a beautiful decoration and useful feeding and housing area for our feathered friends.

We also had the tree surgeon cut large stumps big enough to sit on and put them around our fire pit area. Then we placed boards across the stumps and made even more seating around the fire pit area. It won't be long before we will be sitting around the fire, enjoying nature and the colors of autumn. We are surely getting the most we can from this tree.

On our front lawn we had another tree taken down because the top of the tree was dying and it was beginning to attract insects. This stump we left a few feet high, just tall enough to hold a bird bath. I added a rock in the center to hold the top in place and added some old pennies to help keep the water from growing algae. Supposedly pennies before 1982 have enough copper in them to help prevent this. We are hoping the birds and squirrels will like it. Again, we easily created a very decorative and useful addition to our yard.

The hummingbirds are still here, fighting over the feeder just as much as they have been the entire spring and summer season. We are watching closely to see when they will be leaving for their trip south and their departure will tell us that fall will begin soon.

Pest Wars, Part 1 - Squash Bugs


By Orion Darkwood

People ask me about pests and which ones I think are the worst. Over the next couple of articles I will list my top 3. Number 1 is the Squash Bug or orange-tipped leaf-footed bug. They are have a foul odor when disturbed, much like stink bugs. This and the fact that they look similar cause most people to think they are stink bugs until too late.

Squash Bugs attack squash, cucumbers, melons, and pumpkins. The major damage is caused by their toxic saliva into the plant. This causes wilting and quick death of the plant. They reproduce in great numbers and tend to horde on a single plant at a time. I have personally witnessed a squash plant go from healthy to dead in 3 days due to this pest.

The complete life cycle of the squash bug commonly requires six to eight weeks. Squash bugs have one generation per year in northern climates and two to three generations per year in warmer regions. The preferred overwintering site(s) are cucurbit fields under crop debris, clods of soil, or stones - but sometimes adults also are found in adjacent wood piles or buildings. Adults measures 1.4 to 1.6 cm in length and are dark grayish brown in color. In many cases the edge of the abdomen is marked with alternating gold and brown spots.

In addition, squash bugs are known to carry cucurbit yellow vine disease. The main reason they are not a widespread pest is that they tend to horde on a single or small group of plants at a time. They have dominant periods in the winter and late summer.

Adults are extremely hard to kill with insecticides and can live up to 130 days. They produce 20 eggs per adult. The eggs are elliptical, slightly flat and bronze in color. Eggs may be tightly clustered or spread a considerable distance apart, but an equidistant spacing arrangement is commonly observed. The nymph stage lasts around 30 days, and the nymph will molt 5 times.

Insecticides are most effective when the Squash Bug is in the nymph stage. Eggs and adults are usually best crushed. Adults are also hard to locate as they burrow and fed around the base of the plant. Usually coming out only at dawn and dusk. Some success can be found by placement of boards, large cabbage leaves, or other shelter for squash bugs induces the bugs to congregate there during the day where they are easily found and crushed. Effective control requires that all plant debris be kept in check.

I have found some limited success with diatonomous earth and cayenne pepper liberally sprinkled on and around the plants.

Orion Darkwood is an avid gardener, self reliance instructor, writer, poet and small business owner. To learn more about Orion go to

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