By Mel
GreenHouse17 Summer Vista Farm Associate

Mel Here! I’m GreenHouse17’s Summer Vista Farm Associate. While developing a serious farmer’s tan, I have been tasked to do several things around the farm. One of my favorites so far is working with the children at GreenHouse17 to get more involved in the garden. During my first week I was in the vegetable garden and was spending some quality time with the potatoes.

As I walked by at first I noticed some “Ladybugs” on the leaves. “Dang–those ladybugs love getting up close and personal with some potatoes!” was my initial thought. Shannon corrected me; they were potato bugs, and they were destroying the potato leaves. Upon researching these bugs, I found that they are called the Colorado Potato Beetle and burrow into the soil to survive the winter. I was soon to discover that the larvae are squishy, and the female beetles can lay 300 eggs. Ours were taking over in droves.

Up close potato bug

Being an organic garden means we can’t spray a lot of pesticides on the plants. While I was working on weeding (the never-ending task), Shannon came over and shouted, “I have an idea that is either really bad or genius. Let’s give the kids some gloves and let them put the potato bugs into a bucket of soapy water. Then we can organically get rid of the bugs!” This started what I have dubbed as the “Great Potato Bug Massacre of 2015.”

I rounded up about 7 children and gave each a glove. We marched over the hill toward the garden while I barked out orders to my young recruits. After slight bickering over glove fit, the children got right to work. They peeled off the larvae from each plant and threw them in the water that had some dish soap in it. When one asked about the water and why it had soap in it for the bugs, I told them that it had to do with surface tension and that we would cover that another day.

The event happened in a flourish with a successful decimation of the intruders. As if by magic, once we reached the last plant in the row the eldest announced, “This is BORING!” Threw down his glove and walked away. Just as quickly as we worked, my army was gone.

Glove potato bug

We left the bucket overnight just to make sure that the bugs didn’t rise from the pail like the Walking Dead. Thankfully our plants seem to now be thriving. Ingenuity saved the day.