Friday, August 25, 2017

Fall Cucumbers in Queen Creek

The Cukes are going to town!

I have never really had any success with cucumbers in the fall in Arizona but maybe the new found love of the soaker hose is a game changer.  I really was getting home and getting the leaves wet while it was sunny, which is a no no, even though I knew better.  Who wants to get up before the sun and go out and water the garden in the dark before you have to go to work all day?  I would do it when I got home and was sweaty from being outside all day and water everything and then hop in the pool dry off and go inside to the sweet air conditioning where I would spend the rest of my evening.  Nothing was going to get me back outside until time to go to work the next day!  You really aren't supposed to water your garden in the evening either if you plan on getting the leaves wet.  The warm Arizona nights and wet leaves just beg for fungus to appear.

So I had seen some grey beetles around the watermelon vines as I was pulling them out but paid very little attention to them.  I was killing the vines so who cares about the bugs.  Never had two thoughts about them.

The great balance of life being what it is, I noticed a few smaller runts of the cucumber rows were wilting and dying.  I have never had these and should have had bells and whistles go off in my head when I saw them.  I had diagnosed them as the problem a million times at the nursery but never experienced their destruction first hand.

Let me introduce you to my new nemeses...
Squash beetles.  Bastards.

I first went with a soapy water spray and carefully sprayed the cucumber plants while billions of whiteflies swarmed all around me, they appear to be doing no damage, and let it rest for a while.  Went back to check and they just seemed cleaner.  I have never had luck with the soapy water game so I moved on to Carbaryl (Sevin) which did nothing for either bug.  I had hoped at least it would do a little something to the whiteflies, even though deep down I knew nothing really will get rid of them except the cooler temps of Fall.  I don't worry as much about them anyways since they usually don't really kill a healthy plant, they are just annoying.  The evil beetles from Beelzebub however should have shown some sort of distress from the Sevin, but nothing so I tried again being very careful to spray under the leaves this morning to get them where they were hanging out plotting some destructive actions I'm sure.  I went back out a couple of hours later only to find them more clever and resilient than before.  They try their best to hide from you when you move the vine around.  They will scurry to the backside of the vine and tuck in their legs so you might miss them!  This was the last straw, I hate doing this but in the kill or lose your veggie crop world we live in I have become a masterful... beetle smasher.

So far this method has been very efficient.  Its a little gross and time consuming but in two days I am down to only seeing one or two each time I go out there.  I'm hoping any new beetles that approach the cucumbers see the limbs, carcasses and carnage and just figure that its just not worth it!