Friday, May 10, 2013

1917 Farm Bulletins, Asparagus Beetles, Chickens & Quail

Our two, 50-foot asparagus bed have been invaded by devilish little asparagus beetles. It is our own fault.  We did not keep the bed properly weeded last year and these tiny spotted pests like to overwinter in any old asparagus fronds and other debris which remain in the garden at the end of the season.  See all the grassy weeds among the asparagus?  Shame on us.

We will certainly do better next year, but in the meantime, I don't want to lose a single spear to these tiny, spotted insects.  I have been handpicking them every morning, but there are so many that I'd like to find a simpler and more back-friendly approach.

Asparagus Beetles and Their Control,
1917 Farm Bulletin
I love reading old agricultural books and bulletins from simpler times and while researching the beetles, I came across some info in an old 1917 Farm Bulletin:

Chickens and ducks are efficient destroyers of asparagus beetles, and as they do no injury to the plant their services are still in requisition for this purpose at the present day.

Camera Shy Hens
So you can probably guess what is coming next right?  We are going to let a few chickens run among our asparagus in hopes they will help get it somewhat weeded while they chow down on the beetles.  Since we can't keep chickens on
our property, they will only be here for a short while and then we will resell them which is easy to do in the area.  Since we bought 8-week old chicks, I'm not too worried about them scratching big holes into the bed - especially since the garden is practically under water from all the rain we've had.  There will be no dusts baths in our garden for some time.

New Quail Baby Close-Up
Cheesing for the Camera
Our Adorable Little Quail Babies
In the meantime, we are also going to test out letting some quail simply roam the garden and hang out with us as pets.  They arrived yesterday by mail, from Furbelow Farms in Virginia, and will stay in one of the old rabbit hutches until they are a bit older.  They are so lovely and tame.  Can't wait to get to know them better and set up and little habitat for them out in the garden.  Maybe it will work - maybe not.  Beetles or no - these tiny darlings are here to stay!

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