Pests. Can’t live with them and (at least on Earth) can’t live without them. From rats in the alley eating trash to mosquitoes breeding somewhere in shallow water, to squash nymphs surviving in the same nutrient dense compost I have designed for the gardens at Mezzacello, pests have been a real dilemma this summer. I refuse to use human manufactured chemicals to fight them. I am limiting everything I bring in every month to one 20 gallon, 10kg tote every month. But I am suffering. I have to figure this out. Usually the City of Columbus helps me out with trash and mosquitoes. But with everyone working from home, more people are throwing away more uneaten food and that means more trash. But the city can’t keep up. They have issued alerts to those of us in the city with poultry permits to beware: the rat population is going to increase. It’s the law of supply and demand. It’s a law in nature too. COVID 19 has put a damper on the city spraying for mosquitoes as well. Every year they treat my rain barrels and spray along alleys and vacant lots. But not this year. Increasingly more and more of my 10kg (20 gallon) allotment is on mosquito dunks, citronella, rat traps and now Neem oil and Sevin dust for the squash beetle.

Even with two UV light zappers and three citronella torches the mosquitoes are relentless. Jim Bruner | Mezzacello
This zucchini was ravaged but alive yesterday and this morning, but suffered catastrophic collapse late this afternoon. Jim Bruner | Mezzacello

I may be the only urban farmer this year without a bumper crop of zucchini. I planted three plants in a well fertilizer compost bed. I also planted it in a nest of nymphs. Nymphs that did not die over winter. I predicted this. But I did not adequately prepare. What would I do if I did not live in a city? Or on this planet? That is the point of #ProjectMartian. I have learned a few valuable lessons this summer. It’s not enough to prepare beds for life. You must also take care to insure plants will live. I will integrate a layer of diatomaceous earth beneath the burlap but on top of the compost to destroy the nymphs before they emerge. I was counting on Ohio’s notoriously fluctuating winter to kill them. Not this year. Any body got any zucchini they’d like to share?

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