Thursday, September 25, 2014

Cucumber Beetles

Of all the pests I receive in my garden, the one I see each year – without fail – is the cucumber beetle. To keep my cucumber plants healthy and productive it is important for me to know when the beetles arrive, what they do to my garden, and how to remove them.

How do you know if your garden has cucumber beetles?
Who owns two antennae behind a damaged cucumber flower?
A Cucumber Beetle enjoying a cucumber flower

Here in the South, these beetles can come in many sizes,  colors and patterns. The dominant color is black with white stripes followed by a green variety that possesses black spots. In the past I have seen some that are nearly neon, though more rare cucumber beetles can sometimes be hard to catch – let alone to take a picture of.

To find the beetles, start by looking at your flowers – and more specifically in your flowers. If there are cucumber beetles in there you will see them coming out and flying away.

A Green Spotted Cucumber Beetle
Why care about cucumber beetles?

A Cucumber Beetle on a Flower

Cucumber beetles destroy both male and female cucumber flowers. In addition, if left in the garden they act as vectors for disease and can cause otherwise healthy plants to become diseased. Though most of the references I have read have only noted that cucumber beetles cause bacteria wilt, I have often suspected cucumber beetles of spreading some form of cucumber mosaic as well.

Cucumber Beetle damage to a flower.
How does one get rid of these pests?
A close-up of a cucumber beetle that wouldn't hold still.
Because cucumber beetles tend to be very skiddish around people (with good reason) it helps to eradicate them early in the morning. Around dawn, when many friends I know are still feeling sluggish and tired – so are the cucumber beetles. They are a lot slower and, when coaxed out of a cucumber flower, tend to drop on the ground rather than fly away. Simply place the palm of your hand below the cucumber beetle and he (or she) will simply drop down into your palm where you can determine its fate.
A mating pair of Cucumber Beetles safe in a flower.
Though cucumber beetles are annoying, when compared with other garden pests (such as the notorious squash-vine borer) they are extremely manageable. By keeping my garden free of cucumber beetles I am not only helping myself but all the gardeners around me.

Oh - the brutality! I guess they were not so safe after all.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Visiting the U of A Pima County Extension Garden

The Pima County Master Gardeners are hosting free tours on select mornings.

So - I read that the Pima County Master Gardeners were hosting a tour of the U of A Extension Gardens on Campbell Avenue this fall. Though I knew that the times included every Saturday at 9:00 am I did not check to make sure that they were hosting the event  when I visited on August 30th.


So – my daughter and I had a little self-guided tour of the garden.

Browsing the All-American Selections (AAS) Winners

Mascotte Bean - An AAS Bush Bean (with no beans on it)

An AAS Winning Flower

A Cayennetta F1 Pepper, as the sign states.

My daughter enjoyed walking around, but like me – she was not very impressed that no one was there. Hopefully, in the future, I will read things more carefully before I jump in the car to go across town.

Egg Plants grow very well in warm Arizona.

A few long Eggplants.

Some Okra Plants

My kids love most veggies - except Eggplant and Okra

A few of the Peppers at the County Extension Garden

Ordono Peppers - the healthiest pepper variety I saw.

Bell Peppers

Some form of Sorghum

Sweet Potato Vines

The tomato varieties.

I cannot leave my tomatoes un-kept like this.

For those of you who would like to see the gardens, they are in Tucson on Campbell Avenue on the east side between River and Ft. Lowell. When I traveled there, I parked in the community parking lot just north of the gardens. For a schedule of the dates when the garden is doing tours, see below.

My daughter posing as a carrot. (=

A healthy Artichoke plant that will surely produce plenty of spring chokes.

Some feathery Asparagus stalks

Immature Grapes

A Little Bunch of Grapes

A Row of Bush Beans

My daughter at Tucson Village Farm

A large Armenian Cucumber - possibly still edible

Armenian Cucumber - Perhaps being grown for seed?

This one is definitely for next year!


Another Large Armenian - At this point the flesh is more like carrots.

Mexican Sunflowers


Bees on small flowers

Bees Pollinating Mint


Bees Pollinating Onions


Bees on an onion plant

A red caterpillar.

Another look at this red caterpillar

A black swallowed tail butterfly on a Mexican Sunflower

There were plenty of insects at the U of A gardens

A nice big spiderweb

Spider on Pepper Leaves.

I really like this vermicompost setup.

My daughter came prepared to take notes.

I really liked this little solar oven.

Instead of taking a self-guided tour (as I did) let a Master Gardener provide a tour of the gardens for you. Here are the tour dates for Fall 2014:

September – 9:00am every Wednesday and Saturday.

October - 9:00am every Wednesday and Saturday.

November - 9:00am every Wednesday and Saturday, except the Week of Thanksgiving.

December - 9:00am every Wednesday and Saturday, except the Week of Christmas.
I received this information by subscribing to the Pima Master Gardener’s listserve, which can be found at:

A pair of Zebra-Tailed Lizards. They move their tails like worms! (=


My daughter tried catching a smaller one of these. She didn't have a chance!