We went down to the field the other day and discovered a new pest: blister beetles. We noticed that all of our huckleberry plants had literally been defoliated overnight, and searched around for the culprit. I found a few long orange-and-black striped beetles nibbling on the leaves, and squished all that I could find. Later after we came up the back of my hand was itchy, which was a bit odd. Then that night I had two big blisters on the back of my hand. We looked it up, and learned that our new pests are aptly named; anywhere their juice gets on your skin, a big blister swells up. So we tried dusting the plants with diatomacous earth, which works well against most insects. It remains to be seen if we have triumphed over the blister beetle, though. We are seeing the huckleberry plants putting out new leaves, which is promising, but we also still see some beetles here and there. Luckily the huckleberry plants were pretty robust, and as long as we can keep the beetles in check we think they will bounce back. That's why we always plant a broad array of crops, if one gets destroyed or doesn't do well, others are bound to thrive.
This year is a good elderberry year, and we have been harvesting lots of wild elderberries. The kids like eating them plain, but they don't taste like much and we usually just make them all into immune-boosting syrup for ourselves. We will have a limited amount of berries for sale at market, let us know if you would like some!