Just a quick reminder to wash all your veggies. We do not wash veggies–we may clean root crops with the hose to remove mud; and we plunge the cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower into Ice Baths; BUT we do not wash veggies. Unwashed veggies keep longer in your fridge. An exception might be lettuce–I prefer to wash it, drain it well, place it in a ziplock bag with a moist paper towel–it will keep for an unbelievably long time! But I do not wash any other veggies until right before we use them.

As we enter into mid-summer and the harvest is in full swing, we are noting the arrival of our unwanted friends–Meet the PESTS: Dried Fruit beetles and aphids. Both are easily washed off of your veggies and do not cause lasting damage (except in the stuff they have destroyed).

The Dried Fruit beetles infest ripe fruit–in the cantaloupe they bore holes into the melon, sometimes unseen without close scrutiny, and spoil the flavor. In the corn, which is near the cantaloupe, they have literally EATEN up to a quarter of the ear. Unlike many pests, which destroy the fruit without completely consuming it, they stay on their melon or ear until it is gone. The beetles multiply rapidly, with the larval stage in the ground and the adults causing the damage. (Unlike Cabbage loopers and other moths which lay their eggs in the fruit, and it is the larval caterpillars that ravage the crop.)

Aphids are not as easily spotted, but leave a sticky film that washes off easily, and can cause minimal surface damage to the fruit. Their infestations are in the tips of the leaf shoots–if unchecked they stunt the growth of the plant and can kill it. Aphids in broccoli are bad news–fortunately we have harvested all the broccoli heads and just have some side shoot production. We are checking them for aphid infestation–if noted the broccoli will have to be destroyed. Aphids are sticky and can not be washed out…I donot believe and have not been successful in washing the flowerlets in salt water. It is a trick for cleaning off cabbage loopers, those cute little green caterpillars, but totally useless against the sticky aphids.

Both pests can be controlled with Pyganic, an organic pesticide derived from chrysanthemums, which kills on contact. Once we have sprayed, we rotate those plants out of harvest for a three day period. Pyganic is easily washed off the surface of the veggies–so another reason, beside extending the refrigerator life of your veggies, for washing all produce. Pyganic does not discriminate between good and bad pests, so our Lady Bird beetle community can be at risk if we spray too much. Lady Bird beetles are our friendly Ladybugs, who love to feast on aphids!

Keeping you informed–The Putting-the-face-on AG Farmer’s Wife

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