If you’ve been following along with our Garden Experiments, you may know that we’ve experienced a few mishaps along the way. Recently, I showed our abundant green bean harvest, so you may also know that we’ve experienced some success as well.
The first major Garden Experiment was the implementation of a new method: Square Foot Gardening. You can read more about that here: This Year’s Garden Experiments, Take Two.
Today, I’d like to reveal (finally!) the second part of This Year’s Garden Experiment. Are you ready?
Here’s the nutshell version: We bought guineas. Twice. For bug control. It’s working.
Want more details? Read on.
First of all, we’ve had terrible, horrible, no good, very bad luck with squash bugs for the last few gardening seasons.
Last year, our entire crop of squash, melons and pumpkins was decimated by the little buggers. We’d go out to the garden and hand pick the eggs from the poor plants, even as the vines withered before our very eyes. The plants were just crawling with squash bugs.
It was so, so sad. And so demoralizing–all that work, for nothing.
Great Green Gourd Harvest
Fueled by that massive defeat, I set about scouring the internet for advice on conquering squash bugs without resorting to chemicals.
Every organic tip I could find seemed so complicated. Until I came across this useful piece of information: “Guinea Fowls eat squash bugs.”
The Trouble with Chickens
We had hoped our chickens–acquired in early spring of last year–would help with the squash bug problem, but obviously they were no help at all.
The trouble with chickens is that they shouldn’t be allowed in the actual garden. Outside the garden, yes. But inside the garden, they will eat both the bugs (good) and the plants (bad).
Success Against the Squash Bugs
As it turns out, guineas can enjoy free reign of the garden without damaging the plants. They do peck at the plants a bit, but not enough to kill them.
And I tell you what, they truly are a force to be reckoned with in the bug control department. The squash bugs we’ve seen this year could be counted on one hand.
A String of Setbacks
However, before we were to enjoy the sweet taste of success in our battle against the armies of squash bugs, we faced a string of setbacks. They almost did us in–spelling success for the squash bugs–but we persevered and won out in the end.
Stay tuned for the next post about This Year’s Garden Experiment: The Great Guinea Massacre. [Warning: it’s a gory tale.]
Kathleen Henderson is the yankee behind the homestead. Follow along as we grow real food and three boys while renovating a 20-acre farm in northern Virginia. Do you love homegrown food, Paleo-ish recipes, and natural living? You’re in good company! Let’s grow together…