It’s been a long time since I dorked out about my garden on dig. And nothing can bring out my inner dork like a sick vegetable that needs mending. And, this morning, I woke at 5:30, made coffee and crept to my computer to write just as Margot decided to wake…BUT the grandmas and one grandpa are in town so, as I type, two ladies I love in jammies are blowing bubbles and scrambling an egg in the kitchen with my bug.
My spinach looks like poop. Scrawny and miserable. I went in for a closer look and there was this little dude having a blast on the tip of a leaf, oh hello! he was saying as if I’d be happy to see him.
I am pretty certain he is a spinach leaf miner. Ack does that sound nasty or what? I envision the hairy beast with a miniature pickaxe, helmet and head lamp pounding away on my delicate, bright green, vitamin-rich food. Asshole. And I am especially bummed because the spinach is right next to my beets and vegetable leafminers hammer away on beets too. Although I am not skilled enough to identify the exact species so I am *hoping* this is a rare kind of leafminer who only enjoys spinach and then buzzes right off.
This is what my master gardening book has to say about the pest:
Larval leafminers burrow underneath leaf surfaces leaving a visible trail as they eat their way through the leaf. Leafminers can be flies, wasps, moths or sawflies. Leaves damaged by leafminers have a distinct top and bottom leaf surface that can be pulled apart at the tan-colored blotch or serpentine tail. Inside trails or blotches, you will find a larva or a black, sawdusty leafminer droppings.
The biological and mechanical controls available won’t do me any good because I do not have access to ichneumonid wasps nor do I know what hey are and it is too late for row covers (that would have aided in control but needed to be used as soon as seedlings emerge). And as far as chemical, well, I may have missed out but I may have time. Neem oil has shown to inhibit feeding and egglaying….and because the green invaders are instars or larva (I think instar is a stage in larva?) it could be the perfect time to spray. I’d love any other ideas y’all have out there too.
Anyway, the neem needs to be applied now and if it doesn’t work I will be pulling over one hundred spinch plants. Because while my family enjoys spinach, we will perish if we don’t have bloody beets to pull out of the dirt. Perish.
A few other garden tidbits:
Arugula is about toast so I will harvest remaining leaves, pull and plant pepper starts this weekend.
I don’t water enough and it is pissing me right off. My seedlings are struggling and I need to get on the stick.
Radish volunteers are everywhere in my garden. I have pulled dozens of plants and there are still millions of entrepreneurial roots.
Strawberries almost there. And I covered with bird netting in time this year. Ha! Squirrels! Take that!
I am proud of lots of things I have grown but must admit one particular species takes my breath away.
And, I look forward to the germination and rooting into my heart of another.
In response to requests for a belly shot. 14 weeks.