Thursday, June 19, 2014
An Experiment with Surround (tm)
I am sick of cucumber beetles decimating my cucumber crop just as they really get going. I had some difficulty finding an organic method to prevent or discourage them (after all, most organic methods reduce or control pests, don't fully kill them). This year, after two years of no cucumbers, I first covered then with floating row covers, a barrier method that allows the plants a good head start before the cuke beetles arrive. Even though these are "greenhouse" cucumbers (they set fruit without pollination) eventually they grow too big for the cover, plus the covers should be removed during scorching temperatures (as we are having now). So, to further control cuke beetles (which spread cucumber wilt that kills the plants), I sprayed with plants with Surround, a trademarked barrier spray made of finely milled kaolin clay (think kaopectate- same stuff!) that discourages the critters from feeding. However, it does turn the plants sort of white. One concern I have is that this may reduce photosynthesis too much, but it is an experiment, so we will see. I will have to reapply after a heavy rain.
Cukes with Surround
I am also experimenting with my eggplants: first row covers, then Surround as they get too large for the covers. Note I sprayed half of each plant, to see if the Surround really reduces flea beetle damage (they eat tons of tiny holes in the leaves).