Pumpkin Hollow Farm

Seven Years in Farmgirl School


Last year I watched helplessly as the black bugs took the leaves from the collards, cabbages, kale, and cauliflower within minutes.  They are back this year but I have been fending them off.  No one will buy kale and collard leaves with frilly, lacey holes all throughout so I eat those myself.  I would enjoy having some Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and cabbage!  They are making quick work of them.  I used insecticidal soap and as I sprayed the leaves making sure they were well drenched, I saw a ladybug.

Insecticidal soap is supposed to be the organic approved method of killing plant eating obnoxious bugs.  I quickly stopped and drew a breath in.  Did I just kill the ladybug?  My garden is filled with gorgeous birds, ladybugs, and butterflies this year.  All humming around enjoying the new jungle.  Even though I do not want a 100% loss of cruciferous vegetables again this year, I also do not want 100% loss of beneficial bugs either.


At our party last Saturday, Nancy said to use diatomaceous earth.  Works like a charm.  Very safe.  I can put some on the goat’s feed to get rid of internal parasites.  We could eat it.  Washes right off.  Gets rid of “wants me to starve” bugs quick.  Another friend mentions the exact same things and says she will bring me over some the next day.  Which she does.  And I gleefully sprinkled the non-toxic mixture over the entire population of leaf hogging entities.  The next day they were gone.  The next day they were back.  I put some more out.  Yet, I still wonder.  By drying up the little buggers and keeping them from coming back (which hasn’t happened yet), am I doing the same thing to the beneficial bugs that I enjoy so much?  Will it hurt bees should they wander by and drag their feet?  Are there civilian casualties among the ladybugs?

Can anyone answer this for me?  My soil is very good.  Water is consistent.  All is well in the garden.  The beneficial insects are among us.  I fully accept the 30% loss of seeds to birds.  I accept the loss of some vegetables to wildlife.  I want a healthy ecosystem.  I do not want the wipe everything out bugs.

The Fall crop goes in this week as the peas and collards are finishing up their spring run.  I wonder if the bugs will react differently at a different time of year.  If you plant potatoes the last week of May you avoid potato beetles.  I wonder if it is the same with cruciferous veggies.  I wonder if the Fall crop will be the healthy one.

Voices please!  Does anyone know if the organic insecticides wipe out everyone?  How about organic fertilizer?

8 thoughts on “What’s Bugging Me

  1. Lisa says:

    My experience is that during this time of year the bugs are eatting these types of veggies because its cleanup time for them. I would replant. Perhaps check your companion plants as well… it is amazing how well they work .
    I too use DE and it works wonders but there could be casualties as well 😦
    Last year the broccoli really took a hit but not this year…. Sometimes I think it is a mystery.

    1. Farmgirl says:

      Which companion plants would you recommend? Dill? Other herbs?

    2. Farmgirl says:

      This makes so much sense. Thanks! No more DE for me!

  2. sophiecussen says:

    Dill, rosemary or alliums all helps against the battle for eating away at your brassicas. I didn’t notice if you’d said about protecting them at all, in any way? I have to double fleece mine to keep caterpillas away but depending on the particular bug you’ve got they may already be in your soil.

    1. Farmgirl says:

      I have them surrounded by onions!

    2. Farmgirl says:

      I do not know what kind of bugs they are. Very tiny flying black circles basically! Row covers you think?

  3. Sonja says:

    The little black bugs are most likely flea beetles.
    Yes, diatomaceous earth can kill ladybugs and bees. Try to keep the dust off the flowering parts and the bees should be ok since they don’t really crawl around on the plant.

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