Despite having a record week last week and record sales at Saturday's market in Hillcrest, I'm feeling more than a little defeated tonight. I know by now my friends are getting sick of listening to me complain about blister beetles but what we saw tonight is almost indescribable. I spent so much time last week fighting these bugs and chasing hordes around the field it finally got to the point on Friday night that I just had to walk by and ignore them to get finished picking what needed to go to market. After yesterday's market, a long nap and a visit from my mother-in-law, I didn't make it back to the field until this morning. I spent the morning picking sungolds-an area we have diligently kept clean and slightly more beetle free. This evening though it was time to pick squash and big tomatoes out of the middle field. Robert and I had already discussed that we were going to take down the big tomato plants where the hordes have been so bad. We have spent more time pulling off half-eaten, rotten tomatoes from those rows than we have harvesting tomatoes to go to market. I started picking squash while Robert walked the tomato rows to make a plan of attack. Neither of us got far before we heard them eating...in the squash and the tomatoes and everywhere in between. I just sat down on my five gallon bucket and watched. I really cannot describe what we saw other than to call it an infestation which seems like a strange way to talk about bugs outside of a house. Blister beetles were crawling all over everything slowed down only a little in the squash by the squash bugs joining the feast.
If we were not in a burn ban right now, we would burn down the whole field. I would take the summer off and try to replant a fall garden. I even contemplated changing my crop plan and letting the organic certification go in that field and spraying it with anything I could find. The three years it would take to get organic certification in that field again might be a small price to pay to make a dent in these bugs. I really cannot express the disgust and frustration I feel about dealing with these bugs. I watch them and absolutely feel like I've been kicked in the gut. We've had our share of crop failures over the last four years, some due to our inexperience, some due to factors outside of our control, but nothing as overwhelming as this. I'm seriously not sure where we go from here.