Monthly Archives: July 2011

Oh, those pesky squash bugs………..

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This is the time of year your squash is or has been producing loads of squash.  Then one morning you go out to your garden to pick and there they are…..The dreaded squash bug.  YUCK! 

Squash bugs literally suck the life out of your plants. Squash bugs damage crops by sucking the sap from the leaves of the squash or pumpkin. They pierce the leaves with their mouth parts to feed on the plant. If the plant cannot withstand the amount of feeding, you will start to see damaged leaves around your garden . Leaves wilt rapidly and eventually turn yellow and then brown and crispy. In the early growing season, young plants are especially susceptible to death by squash bugs. Older plants are hardier, but excessive feeding will still kill them.  Female squash bugs begin to lay their eggs in early June through summer.  Eggs hatch within ten days and the nymph will become an adult within four weeks.

When I first started my garden I had, what felt like millions of squash bugs roaming my garden and destroying all my squash plants.  Over the years I have built my soil up by adding compost, organic fertilizers and nothing chemical to break down the soil, but rather, build up the soil and feed the earth.  The plants have become healthier due to the soil and therefore they are more resistant to bugs and diseases.  Last year I planted a pumpkin patch in an area that was a driveway/parking spot for 22 years.  Very compacted and no nutrients in the soil.  Once again I had a battle of squash bugs in that spot and just 40 feet away in my amended garden, not one squash bug dared enter.  But there are several organic choices to help you repel the squash bug.  Prevention is the first step to take. Once the little squash plants have emerged from the ground I sprinkle kelp meal around the base of the plant.  Not only does it feed the plant and give it the minerals it needs, the squash bugs don’t seem to like the smell of it and stay away.  I only use a couple of tablespoons and sprinkle once a week.  I have used with good success an organic spray called End All and another called Neem Py.  Both of these will kill nymphs, but seem to have little effect on adult as does a chemical, but they are a great spray to repel and kill the little ones.  I spray every 7-10 days through the season, but I never spray the flowers!  The flowers have visitors (your pollinators) and I don’t want to make them sick or discourage them.  It’s best to spray in the evening time.

It’s so important to pay close attention to your plants.  A couple of missed days can mean an infestation..  I inspect mine early morning.  Living in an arid climate I can give my plants a spray of water and come back a few minutes later and if there is squash bugs present, they will surface.  They don’t like the water and they run to the tops of the plants.  If you live in an area that is humid or cool, you won’t want to do this because you can cause powdery mildews.  Look under the leaves for movement.  Don’t let one of those little buggers get away!  If your squimish and don’t want to squish them, carry a jar with a little water in it to dump them in.  I had an old farmer tell me a trick he uses to get rid of his bugs, and for years I thought of it as silly.  Finally after I came to my senses and decided not to be close minded I thought I would give it a try……..Oh my goodness, it really works.  I have put a video on this blog so you can see how easy it is and how it works.  It’s a torch to burn the bugs.  Use a quick movement over the squash bug.  It quickly singes the bug without hurting the plant.  You don’t want to hold the torch in on spot or you WILL burn your plant of course, but a quick movement will do the trick.  The torch I use is (I robbed it out of my husbands tool box…shhhh!) is a bernzomatic TS 400.  It has an electric pizeo lighter which makes it quick to light and get the job done.   You can use it on the eggs as well, but you have to hold the flame on a little longer to kill the eggs, so it will scorch to leaves a little bit.

Over the years of amending your soil and learning fertilizing techniques to make healthier plants you will se a decline in squash bugs.  Remember that prevention is worth a pound of cure! Be patient and keep after those stinky little buggers!


Filed under Gardening

Raising Goats in the Backyard

Hi! I'm Ivy, a nubian goat.

It used to be a necessity to have a goat  or cow in the barn so you had fresh healthy milk for the family. Well, it is back and is a rewarding thing to do. When you have your own fresh milk you can make many things, yogurt, kefir, cheeses, cottage cheese, sour cream, cream cheese, etc….let your mind go wild, and all without hormones or antibiotics.

 Goats can be rewarding or they can be trying or all of this at the same time.

 Goats unlike popular belief will not eat anything. They like good leafy alfalfa hay, pasture and fresh water.   I have never had one eat a tin can!  Although they are curious creature and they do like to play with things in their mouth.

Some people think staking a goat out to eat the grasses is what they are made for. Yes they do like to eat the grasses but staking them out is not a good idea. They become very vulnerable to dog attacks, getting tangled up in the line they are on, getting scared and running only to possibly break their necks and going without water because the bucket has turned over many hours ago if not days. 

Goats do need fairly good fences.  Some can be escape artist.  Some breeds are better at escaping than others.

There are many different breeds:

Nubians are the Jersey cow of the goat world. They produce the richest milk with the  highest butter fat which make it the best flavored milk but also they have the lowest production. Nubians are known for their pendulous ears and Roman noses. They come in all colors.  Of course, this is my favorite. 

French Alpines are the next in this category. They have good flavored milk and are good producers. French Alpines have erect ears and many of them have distinctive color patterns.

 La Mancha is a distinctly American breed. There is no mistaking them, they may look like they have no ears! Many people claim this is the most docile breed, and many of them are good milk producers.

 Oberhasli is a nice goat with the production of the Nubian and Alpine. The Oberhasli is a rich bay color with black stripes on the face, ears, belly, udder, and lower legs.

 Saanens are the heavy in milk production and are like the Holstein cow with low butter fat and washed out milk flavor. The Saanens are always white and have “dish” or concave faces.

 Toggenburgs are the oldest registered breed of any animal in the world. Their milk generally has a very strong flavor. They rank slightly behind the Saanens and Alpines in production. Toggs are always some shade of brown with a white or light stripe down each side of the face, white on either side of the tail on the rump, and white on the insides of the legs.

 Some things you will need for raising milk goats:

 1. If you get a goat the first things to have are a barn or shed for shelter and to milk in, milking in the rain is no fun, goats do not like to be in the rain, two drops and they head for shelter, and a fenced area.

 2. If your goat is in milk you will need (just in case you didn’t know, your goat has to have babies before she can come into milk production), or at least it is easier, if you have a milk stand. They are not hard to make and are worth their weight in gold. I have started dozens of them and my husband has finished the job when it comes to the head part. He does a great job.

 3. Goat chow is a very balanced grain for the goats, they do very well on it and their coats stay sleek and shiny if they are not wormy.

 4. If your goat is wormy you can buy Goat Wormer from farm suppliers. It comes in pellet form and you do not have to hold the milk as you do if you use a past wormer. You would feed this every 6 weeks to keep the worm populous down.

5. Goats need their hooves trimmed at least once a month. It is easiest to do with hoof trimmers. I also use an angle grinder with a coarse disk, works so well.

 6. All animals need clean fresh water and goats are no different. They rely on it for making milk an staying alive.

 7. Goats can be raised on pasture or good alfalfa hay or both.

 8. A milking Doe has to be milked 2 times a day. You can set your own time to suit your schedule. The milking time should be at 12 hour intervals for good production.

 Raising Babies, now comes the fun part.

 A goat has a gestation of  145 to 155 days. The average is 150 days. Goats deliver very well on their own. Yes sometimes you may have a problems, one that either you or your vet can handle.

 You may choose to either leave the babies to nurse or you can bottle feed. Bottle feeding makes for very tame babies while nursed babies will be wild unless you handle them  A LOT.

 If you bottle feed you will have to milk the Doe and feed the babies 4 times a day for the first week then you can go to 3 times a day till they are 2 mo old, the third month you can feed 2 times a day. Each month when you drop a feeding you will up the amount of milk. Never over feed at any one feeding or you will scour the baby. If this happens you can use 1 tsp slippery Elm in a cup of water and feed it in place of the milk for a day, then gradually go back to the milk starting you with less and working up to more. When the kid is 3 months old you can stop the bottle. You can introduce grain to them to make up for the lack of milk by sprinkling it on their hay and in no time they will be eating it from the container you have provided for that purpose. Here again start out light and build up.

 If you have bucks and do not want to sell them as is or keep for a breeder you can castrate him with a elastrator, very easy if done in the first 3 to 5 days. Dehorning should be done when the kid is 3 to 10 old, depending on the breed you have. Nubians are the 10 day old ones, while the other breeds are done earlier.

Finding someone who is experienced in raising, milking, keeping and enjoying goats can be of great help when venturing out in the goat world.  You will learn to love these little farm animals as much as you would a dog or a cat.  They are just as much a pet when you spend as much time with them as I have!

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Filed under Goats