Mary's Veggie Garden

May 14, 2012

May 14: Harvest Monday & Colorado Potato Beetles

Filed under: Colorado Potato Beetle,Gardening,Insects,Pests,Potatoes,Spinach,Vegetables — marysveggiegarden @ 8:46 am

Harvest continues in ‘foraging’ mode (as Daphne explained last week). I managed another batch of Squash & Tomato soup with the last Rumbo squash from the basement storage room and tomatoes from the freezer.

I’ve foraged a few salads from the garden: spinach, baby lettuce, red mustard, kale, sorrel and chives. The spinach is Bloomsdale and it’s bolting already! It can’t be the heat because until Friday the weather has been cool, barely breaking  70 Fahrenheit. So I’m blaming the dryness. This is my first planting, back in March, and it endured extreme drought for its first month. I hope the second planting grows better now that rain is falling regularly.

Colorado Potato Beetles are emerging very early this year – photographed May 13, 2012.

There was a big surprise waiting at Vassar Farm Saturday: Colorado Potato Beetles! May 12 is the earliest I’ve ever seen them. I recorded the first CPB June 1, 2007 (the ‘normal’ emergence time here) and May 25, 2011. This year’s very early emergence is probably because of our very warm winter – the soil never froze more than an inch or so all winter.

Colorado potato beetles overwinter as adults in the soil.  These beetles were on volunteer plants in last years potato patch so they didn’t need to move far to find food. Three were having an orgy on one plant and a female was laying her bright yellow-orange eggs on another.  I went wild smashing them, before realizing I’d just destroyed the chance for some really good photos.

Potato patch protected by a floating row cover.

I do rotate crops, and my potato planting is on the other end of the garden from last year’s patch. When the first plants broke ground I covered the patch with a floating row cover to protect it from flea beetles. The pest sequence is  flea beetles, Colorado potato beetles, then potato leaf hoppers which kill unprotected plants by August 1.

I’m hoping the plants are more productive without the continuous stress from munching insects. Though I don’t mind if they die by Aug. 1 because I immediately replant the space with sugar snap peas for fall.

See this article for more on Colorado potato beetles.



  1. That soup sounds really good. When you add the parsley while cooking do you strain it out or mince it or…?

    Comment by pooks — May 14, 2012 @ 3:06 pm | Reply

    • When I add the parsley during cooking, I chop it coursely. Then it gets finely chopped when the soup is blended.

      Comment by marysveggiegarden — May 14, 2012 @ 3:51 pm | Reply

      • That makes sense. Thanks for explaining!

        Comment by pooks — May 14, 2012 @ 3:56 pm

  2. I hate when plants bolt prematurely. But, I think it may be the lengthening days that caused your spinach to bolt. They like short days.

    Comment by Sustainably Modern — May 14, 2012 @ 3:16 pm | Reply

    • Day length is also a factor. But other years spinach makes it until early or mid-June in my garden. This stuff is tiny but bolting. Variety is also a factor. I prefer Tyee. When grown side-by-side with Bloomsdale, Tyee lasts longer by a week or more. However the Bloomsdale was free.

      Comment by marysveggiegarden — May 14, 2012 @ 3:49 pm | Reply

  3. Ugh not potato bettles! I hope you can keep them at bay!

    Comment by Allison — May 14, 2012 @ 8:46 pm | Reply

    • Row covers work very well as long as crops are rotated. If you don’t rotate the beetles might emerge under the row cover.

      Comment by marysveggiegarden — May 15, 2012 @ 8:29 am | Reply

  4. I have seen so many different kinds of fab spinach this spring with the Harvest Monday posts; I’m going to have to explore more varieties this year! I don’t think I’ve ever seen a CPB before. We have a few June bugs and occasionally those Japanese beetles but nothing too bad. My worst summer pest besides animals of various types is grasshoppers, especially later in the summer.

    Comment by maryhysong — May 14, 2012 @ 10:37 pm | Reply

    • Lucky you, considering Arizona is a lot closer to Colorado than NYS. CPBs are now world-wide pests. Actually I don’t envy your temperatures – I’d never go into my garden if it was 100+; just hide out in the basement.

      Spinach varieties – try Tyee, it does much better than Bloomsdale. It’s in my second planting.

      Comment by marysveggiegarden — May 15, 2012 @ 8:37 am | Reply

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