Hey, Stay Away From My Cucumbers!

It is now week 3 at the Ben Franklin Garden and we are no longer worried about the rain. Now, we have a new worry — how to kill the bugs that are eating away at our cucumber plants.

I approached John Jenkins, our resident gardening expert, to come over to our plot and take a look. At first, he wondered if they were just being finicky. It seems that cucumber plants prefer to be started from seed, rather than transplanted from a gardening pot. “Like melons and squash, Mother Nature doesn’t like that,” he told me. “That could be what’s happening here.”

Upon further inspection, he saw that the real culprit was a little known sucker from the Chrysomelidae family, commonly known as the cucumber beetle. John suggested we buy some Sevin and spread that around in the dirt. Darlene has some Sevin spray, so she thought she would give that a try.

Other than the bugs, I like where this garden is going. On watering days, I like to stand at the end of our plot and look out at the 5 acres of cityscape. Dozens of gardeners are now busy working their plots and sharing tips for keeping plants happy — and growing. I hear words like “potato scabs,” “brush hogging” and “weed suppression,” which I don’t normally hear as a city girl.

Some map out their plots on Visio or continue to keep detailed data on when to plant, how to rotate crops, and how to make soil adjustments. “I got this one from Mother Earth News,” one gardener said, as he proudly displayed a printed sheet of colored graphs and bar charts. “It keeps track of everything.”

Gardening gives me a renewed sense of purpose. This Saturday, I will meet with my co-gardeners to analyze how our crops are responding to seaweed compost and corn gluten. If I start saying things like, “We’re dreadfully short on nitrogen,” you know I have crossed over to a whole ‘nuther world.