Spinella Farm

  (Waterford Works, New Jersey)
Life on a 100-year-old market farm

Thoughts for Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Colorado Potato Beetle is one of the earliest things that I can recollect when it comes to farming. That sounds kinda strange so let me explain.

My grandfather was a tomato farmer. He grew what we call "can house" tomatoes for Violet Packing in Williamstown, New Jersey. That was different because everyone else was contracting with Campbell Soup in Camden. I guess it was closer to go to Williamstown.

Anyway, we had more Colorado Potato Beetles in the field than Carter had little liver pills. My uncles sprayed their hearts out and would control them for the season. But next year the cycle would start all over again. They never practiced crop rotation.

After grandpop passed away in 1990, Dad and I started to grow plum tomatoes again in 1994 for our customers in South Philadelphia. Even the fields were still fallow after four years, the beetles were still there in numbers. I guess they just waited around for the opportunity to eat tomato plants again.

As I transitioned into market gardening, I became a big believer in crop rotation. This slowed down the beetle along with using a catch crop like potatoes and the use of natural enemies like the parasitic wasp. Now the beetles are under control.

Ironically, when we started to buy Russian Banana potatoes we were talking to the people in Colorado one day and brought up the Colorado Potato Beetle. They said they had no idea what were talking about and had never seen one before! Lucky them. 

RSS feed for Spinella Farm blog. Right-click, copy link and paste into your newsfeed reader