Go Away. You Bug Me

It is June. The Food it yourself garden is growing, blooming, and generally looking amazing. We have been harvesting herbs, bok choy and so many strawberries. The chickens are still laying four to five eggs per day. It is early in the season, but I am confident this will be a good gardening year.

If there is one thing I have learned in my time as a gardener, it is this- manage the insects. Just one tomato hornworm can destroy a tomato plant in a matter of days. Those evil stripy cucumber beetles (which attack any cucurbit they can find)? Do not ignore them if you want your pumpkin vines to survive long enough to produce a jack-o-lantern. And then there are aphids. Aphids will feed on anything and everything in the garden.

Recently, I started seeing aphids on several of our plants. There were a few on the tomatoes, a few on the fruit salad tree, a few on the string beans…and then I found the incubator.

Yes, the rose bush that has been a point of contention between Mr. Food It Yourself and I since we bought our house is a font of predatory insects. The stems were not visible in some places due to the aphids clinging to them. The underside of almost every leaf housed white flies. What I did not find in the rose bush was any kind of beneficial insect. No ladybugs, no preying mantis; the bees were more interested in the barely-visible flowers on our holly. In short, a plant we do not really want was protecting enough pests to threaten our entire garden. I tried to love this rose, but that did not work. Mr. Food It Yourself tried to kill it with a blow torch, but that did not work, either. This bug breeding troublemaker is going away.

Just look at those thorns! Why have I put up with those nasty things for over ten years? They are right next to my front door, reaching out to attack every time we leave the house. I grabbed my heavy work gloves, my pruning shears, and a yard waste bag.

Take that! I snipped the branches into smaller bits and carefully loaded them into the yard waste bag. I’ll spare you the pictures, but Rose went down fighting. I have a decent number of scratches on my arms.

I noticed just a little too late that the bush was harboring not only insect pests, but also poison ivy. Now I am really angry. Also, I have to trash my work gloves.

Fire did not kill this rose before, so I opted for chemical warfare. I threw down a pile of rock salt and topped it with a kettle of boiling water. Once the stump looks a little more dead I will have at it with a shovel.

You are the municipal yard waste collection site’s problem now.

It is nearly impossible to remove 100% of the insect pests from a property. I have even heard the argument that you want to have a small population of the pests to keep the beneficial insects around. Once I knew that our rose bush was the incubator for such a large population of aphids, though, it was an easy decision to remove it.

What are your favorite insect control methods? What is the most drastic measure you had to take to protect your crops? Share in the comments section!