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Rookie Garden Mistakes

May 20, 2010
by

So. 

We came home from Hawaii to a garden that, upon first sight, seemed lush, verdant, and… good enough to eat. 

Kitchen Garden Raised Bed 

But things aren’t always as good as they appear.  See what looks like pretty white flowers coming out of the top of this arugula?  Yeah… well apparently that’s called “bolting.”  It means we waited too long to harvest, and now are arugula is bitter.  Trust me, I tried it. 

Kitchen Garden Raised Bed 

And these giant cucumber leaves?  Well that’s all fine and dandy, until they crush the red bell peppers and other plants nearby.  (At least I thought that’s what was killing my red peppers, but now I have another, much more disgusting theory.) 

Kitchen Garden Raised Bed 

When I went to transplant one of the pepper plants to see if it would grow better in another part of the garden (away from the giant, all-consuming cucumber), I was met with a very unpleasant surprise. 

Termites.  (At least I think they’re termites.)  In my soil.  Ick. 

Termites in raised garden bed 

See, despite all of the exhaustive research I did on building raised garden beds, I never came across the issue of termites.  Turns out they can be a HUGE problem here in the southeast, especially when you’re mixing moist soil with wood. 

ARGGHHHHHH! 

I can’t find much useful information as to whether these could potentially harm the rest of my plants.  I thought termites only ate wood, but tell that to my red bell peppers. 

Crap. Frickin’. Tastic. 

Should I just give up now? 

It’s hard to imagine losing all of this… 

Grape Tomatoes

Grape Tomatoes

 

Iceberg Lettuce

Iceberg Lettuce

 

Zinnia

Zinnia

 

Romaine Lettuce

Romaine Lettuce

 

Tomato

Tomato

 

Dahlia

Dahlia

 

Raised Garden Bed 

…to a crappy nest of termites.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Shanalee permalink
    June 23, 2010 12:27 am

    I found your blog on gardenweb.com from when you posted on the forum about termites in your garden. I just found what appear to be termites in my garden today too, and I had to laugh when you said that after all the research on raised beds you had never seen any information on termites, that’s exactly how I feel too. Good luck to both of us :O)

    • June 23, 2010 9:37 am

      Wow, how come no one told us about this?? I guess it’s up to us to spread the word. :) Unfortunately, I think they’re to blame for killing my bell pepper plants and my basil – all of those plants were basically copped off at the soil line. So I don’t care who says termites don’t like plants – I must have some vegetarian ‘mites. Most of the flowers have survived, as well as the cucumbers and grape tomatoes. Ah well, live and learn, right? :)

  2. Nadej permalink
    May 12, 2011 4:47 pm

    I also found your post on garden web. Also stressed beyond belief about recently discovered “nests” in pretty much all of my raised beds. Gosh…there’s gotta be millions and millions of them. Sigh.
    But let me tell you this stuff “copped off at the soil line” is def. not consistent with termite damage. It sounds more like cutworm/grub, the round whitish things. I know I’ve lost some of my plants last year to them. Cutworm collars actually help against that. But most healthy gardens will have grubs in the spring, so that’s normal, unfortunately.
    Now, what to do about termites…I hope more expert people respond to your GWF post or here. I’ll keep checking back. Good luck to all of us with termite woes!

    • May 16, 2011 12:01 pm

      Aw, thanks! Unfortunately, that was last year, and the bed still lays abandoned in the back yard, waiting for demolition. Three of the sides have been almost completely blown out from the termites. All I can figure is you need to use a more termite-resistant (and unfortunately more expensive) wood to build the beds.

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