In the last few weeks we’ve had our first pest infestation and started catching rainwater… it’s been a balance of good and bad!
Harlequin Bugs recently wreaked havoc in our greenhouse. A member of the stink bug family, they’re a major pest of Brassicaceae who honed in on our Daikon Radishes. We noticed some yellowing on a few radish tops and when we took a closer look, found a little village of these bugs. Adults and nymphs feed on the stems and leaves of plants and literally suck the life out of the plants. They reproduce rapidly, their numbers were a little intimidating and with daikon being the majority plant in our greenhouse, they certainly thrived for a little while. We obviously wanted to control them organically, and luckily, we had already had plans to replant the greenhouse.
We started with pulling a few Daikon that we wanted to eat and then hand picked as many bugs as we could see. Some we dropped into soapy water but most went straight into our compost tea. Dead bugs are great for adding nitrogen! We then sectioned off the greenhouse into six manageable areas and planned to do one section a week, that way we’d still have a majority of the ground covered to do the first section, and by the last section, have seedlings coming up in the first five. Because of the Harlequin infestation, we ended up doing all six sections in 8 days, just to keep the bug population under control. To replant the sections we first removed the above ground plant matter and soaked it in our compost tea(we left some plants that we can continue to harvest from). This mostly served to kill the Harlequin Bugs that were hiding in the greens but was also great for our compost tea.
After the radish tops soaked, we ripped them up into small pieces and put them back over the empty bed. Leaving the roots in the ground allows them to release nutrients back into the soil as they break down. On top of the ‘green manure’ we added compost, some soil amendments(sulfur, gypsum), more compost tea, and then a thick layer of mulch. After mulching we seeded and watered. Our Harlequin Bug count has significantly decreased but you can still find me in the greenhouse twice a day on pest patrol.
Another big project we completed was adding gutters to our shade structure. This was our first time ever doing gutters and even though it ended up being easy to install and set up, it still feels like such a feat. It’s also exciting to finally be catching some rainwater, and this week of afternoon showers has been good to us and the desert!
Our water collection off the roof is ~380 gallons for every 1 inch of rainfall. Soon we’ll need to put in a cistern, but until then we’re happy to be collecting in anything we’ve got!