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Millions of leafhoppers, thrips and whitefly but no bees

Our little garden in the middle of the city far from agriculture still managed to attract an abundance of leafhoppers, thrips and whiteflies, but no bees for pollination.

Summertime even in a small desert garden is alive with many good, bad and ugly things
Judy Holly
small green leafhoppers hang out in squash plants
Judy Holly

There are many reports these days about the concerns of farmers and environmentalists because of the decline of honeybees and other pollinators. Many factors are being blamed and all are a part of the problem in varying degrees depending on where you live.

When bees are not present in a small garden it is possible to take on the task and hand pollinate some vegetables such as squash and melons. So again this year it looks like I will have to get out the paint brush and go to work early in the morning to do the work of the bees.

To hand pollinate squash or melons, use a small clean dry water color paint brush and gently brush the pollen from the male blossoms and then gently apply to the center of the female blossoms. It is best to do this early in the morning while the pollen and blossoms are fresh. Use a different brush for each variety of plant to prevent cross-pollination. The brushes can be cleaned, dried and disinfected with rubbing alcohol to prevent spread of diseases.

Now if I can just get rid of the other insect critters before they spread disease or weaken the squash and melon plants to the point that they give up trying to grow in the heat.

There are a lot of small praying mantis in the plants eating as many little insects as they can so I would like to let them do the job if they can. The population of leafhoppers has declined considerably but now the whitefly are coming around.

The high temperatures and winds have already had their toll on the garden plants and trees. Lots of crispy edges on the new tree leaves and the cool season vegetables are completely gone or are producing seeds. Summer heat has also sent the aphids and ladybugs into hiding until the cooler temperatures return in the fall.

The leaf lettuce was left to go to seed and now there are thousands of lettuce seeds to harvest for fall planting. When the flowers are fully open and dry they look like little dandelion seed heads. Pull them off, let the fluff fly away and put the seeds in an envelope. Store in a cool dry place until cooler weather. Don’t forget to put a date and description on the envelope. It will be hard to remember in a few months or years from now what is in the envelope or container.

The tough leaves of the Fig and Pomegranate just laugh at the high temperatures and winds.

The first crop of black mission figs have been harvested and the next larger crop is growing quickly on the tree. The pomegranate bush dropped a lot of small fruit and blossoms but still has a good number of fruit left for harvest in the fall. Those who have plum trees will be harvesting this month too.

See the slide show for pictures to identify what is happening in southwest gardens in Las Vegas in June.


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