Hats off: Bread Box Poppy emerging from its bud cover, July 11, 2016. Photo: Judy Isacoff

NATURE’S TURN: Buds, berries, and beetles

There is also the deep breath drawn in anticipation of going to battle with striped cucumber beetles, if they have invaded your garden as they have appeared in mine.

July 18-31, 2016

Winter squash female flower bud, July 30, 2007. Photo: Mackenzie Waggaman
Winter squash female flower bud, July 30, 2007. Photo: Mackenzie Waggaman

Mt. Washington — Take a deep breath and a double-take that explodes in delight: flower buds are flipping their lids that are their bud-covers bursting open, and bushes are so laden with berries it seems they are giving up their lives to their offspring. Squash vines extend, bearing broad leaves and yellow blooms to the edges of cornrows, where they curve and climb the cornstalks on muscular tendrils that are surely the model for spiral metal springs. Morning glory and bean vines reach over the tops of their supports. The stems of Culver’s root are pointing to the sky with delicate spires of newly formed flower buds. A group of yellow saucers floats three feet above the ground, the composite flower buds aglow atop dill plants. Bumblebees, butterflies, flies and honeybees forage in the depths of blossoms all over the garden. Juncos sing. A scarlet tanager alights on the newly installed cucumber trellis.

Cucumber beetles can be easily identified by their black and yellow stripes. Berea College via https://www.almanac.com/pest/cucumber-beetles
Cucumber beetles can be easily identified by their black and yellow stripes. Image courtesy Berea College via https://www.almanac.com/pest/cucumber-beetles

But there is also the deep breath drawn in anticipation of going to battle with striped cucumber beetles, if they have invaded your garden as they have appeared in mine. Look for the small, yellow and black insects in the blossoms as well as on the tops and under the leaves of all squashes and cucumbers. The challenge is to prevent their many potential ravages by outwitting them, as much as to engage in hand-to-beetle combat. Begin with picking and crushing them, easiest in the cool of morning and evening. For a thorough discussion of the topic, go to https://www.motherearthnews.com/organic-gardening/pest-control/organic-cucumber-beetle-control-zw0z1304zkin.aspx?PageId=1

Last year, and again this spring, my friend Harriet Bergmann gave me breadseed poppy seedlings that grow abundantly in her garden. She doesn’t recall which variety is established, both by self-sowing and gardener assist, although it looks like what is called Hungarian or Hungarian Blue. The seedlings I planted this year are about a foot and a half tall and budding. A plant that most likely overwintered (rated for Zone 7, not my Zone 5b) stands over three feet tall, has numerous flower buds and seed cases and is

Gooseberry shrub with almost ripe berries, July 14, 2016. Photo: Judy Isacoff
Gooseberry shrub with almost ripe berries, July 14, 2016. Photo: Judy Isacoff

broad like a small shrub. Ms. Bergmann writes, “The green heads are beautiful in a vase when the petals come off, and they’re also beautiful when they dry. The tops always remind me of the top of the Statue of Liberty with all the tiny windows. Also, the bees are going crazy over them today!” Poppy seeds are edible. For more information, click here.

Gooseberry shrubs are easy to grow in a small garden. Find fruit-laden Common or American elderberry (Sambucus nigra ssp. Canadensis) bushes along Berkshire roadsides. Depending on location, flowers and berries will be present but, mostly, flowers have turned to fruit and you will find ripening berries. Click here and here for more information.

Resources:

Striped cucumber beetle – https://www.motherearthnews.com/organic-gardening/pest-control/organic-cucumber-beetle-control-zw0z1304zkin.aspx?PageId=1

https://www.almanac.com/pest/cucumber-beetles

https://www.almanac.com/blog/gardening/celeste/controlling-pests-organic-garden

Hot weather planting – https://www.bountifulgardens.org/articles/24

Poppy, Breadseed (Papaver somniferum)
Hungarian Blue https://www.bountifulgardens.org/products/GPO-7349
Mixed Colors https://sustainableseedco.com/organic-jimis-flag-poppy-mix.html
All About https://jimlongscolumns.blogspot.com/2006/08/bread-poppies_21.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gooseberry

https://uswildflowers.com/detail.php?SName=Sambucus%20nigra%20ssp.%20canadensis