I do not believe in using chemical pesticides to rid garden pests. So how do we as organic gardeners get rid of pest insects? There are many ways, but that is not the topic of this post. This post is about my garden's arch enemy: The Blister Beetle!
The blister beetle is usually a problem in alfalfa hay fields, but for some reason, they were especially attracted to my heirloom tomatoes last year!
Perhaps one of the drawbacks to growing heirloom tomatoes is that they are less resistant to disease and to pest insects.
Blister Beetles get their name from the fact that they contain a toxin called cantharidin that will make your skin break out in blisters if you come in contact with it. Usually you would need to touch a crushed beetle to break out, but some people can have an allergic reaction just from touching one of the beetles. The blister beetles in my garden ate a lot of tomato foliage, but the most disgusting part about them was that they left huge droppings behind as well!
Enough already! They disgust me so!That was way too long of an introduction! This post is supposed to be about what I'm going to do about blister beetles in the garden this year. They bothered me so much last year that I put controlling them high on my 2007 garden to do list. If you look at the list you will see that I plan to grow horseradish next to my heirloom tomatoes to keep away the blister beetles. Where did I get the idea that horseradish would keep them away? From a great book about companion planting:
Carrots Love Tomatoes, by Louise Riotte is the foremost authority on companion planting ideas. Riotte writes in the book that horseradish will keep blister beetles away. Using horseradish root in water as a spray will deter many insects. She goes in to what deters animal pests as well. I am following her advice and growing morning glories on my fence to keep deer away and cucumbers to keep raccoons away. Radishes next to those cucumbers will keep the striped cucumber beetle at bay.
This is a great book because in addition to advice on what to grow to keep pests away, it lists what vegetables and herbs will enhance the growth of others if grown at close proximity. The title tells of one; carrots love tomatoes.
I am planning where to place each vegetable in my garden this year based on these companion planting recommendations, which is number one on my to do list.
So there you have it, number one and two on my list. I hope to be able to write about most of the items on that list.
Thank you for reading this whole post. I apologize for the disgusting beginning. Now you know why I'm determined to be ready for the blister beetles this year!