My cucumber plants in the garden looked mighty great in May and June. The vines spread out nicely; the mulch keep weeds from growing up and there were flowers all over those vines. I imagined bushels and bushels of cucumbers coming in all summer long.
And then one morning I walked into the garden and the perfectly healthy vine of yesterday had wilted leaves all along the vine. I looked all around the plants and couldn’t find a single recognizable pest. So I called our local experienced gardener to ask him what he thought it might be. He didn’t even have to look at the plant. He said it must have been attacked by a cucumber beetle which he named as the worst pest in the garden. He explained to me that the cucumber beetle injects a wilt disease as it feeds. The leaves just wither up and die shortly afterwards.
After learning of how destructive the cucumber beetle is in the garden I kept a watchful eye and crushed everyone I saw. They are pretty fast to fly away when you come around so it was challenging to catch them.
Now I’ve learned that companion planting cucumbers with radishes and tansy can really help keep the cucumber beetles away from cucumber and squashes altogether. Apparently the pungent aroma of the tansy confuses and repels the cucumber beetle. The radishes lure the beetle away from the vines. A little too late to try this in the garden for thi year’s crop. But my planting list for 2014 will definitely include radish and I’ll be looking for tansy as well.
I’ve learned from a local herb and flower grower that tansy in the garden can be pretty invasive. She suggested planting tansy in a pot with the bottom cut out to contain it. Same thing with mint. Helpful advice to store for next season’s planting.
Marcelle St. Germain