Ground Beetles

We have an exciting visitor this week on the farm! We knew she was an entomologist, but we didn’t know she was a ground beetle expert! We LOVE ground beetles. They are the unsung heroes of the soil surface world! They are beautiful, some are iridescent, and they are humble hard workers. They help to break down manure, they eat weed seeds, and some of them are omnivores so they also are predators of pests. That is a big and important job description.

Carmen gave us a very fun and informative seminar yesterday that she called ‘Bugs ‘n Beer’. She described the role of beneficial insects in farm ecology and told us all kinds of fun stories about what beneficials do and all the shenanigans they get up to. She showed us the kinds of habitat they need to do their jobs. She described in gory detail about how they parasitize pests on the farm. In other words, they lay eggs in them, they pierce them and suck their fluids out, trap them in webs, or just eat them. She was very impressed with our farm’s habitat features, like minimal tillage, thick hedgerows, flowering plants in each field, as well as plantings of buckwheat and clover cover crops. She mentioned we could set ground beetle traps to see what we had going on out there. I was keen so we went out after dark to set the traps in between onion and eggplant rows. Even though it was dark, Carmen spotted a bunch of different kinds of ground beetles with her headlamp. I was so proud and thrilled! We saw one with an iridescent gold torso, and one with a fuzzy butt. The next morning we went out to see what we caught and she was surprised to see so many. And surprised to see a larva too. And a rove beetle! Carmen has shared so much good information about farm insect ecology that we now have an idea of what is possible. We are so inspired, and are going to keep making the farm inviting to these amazing little friends.

Karina lovingly placing pool noodles at the end of tomato rows so their stems don’t break
Carmen, left, Eli, Karina, Andrew, Colleen, and Olivia harvesting carrots. They found a predatory damsel bug, which is always a good sign.
Bad photo of damsel bug found in the carrots.
Damsel bug image from our guide.
Olivia working up land next to a field so we can expand our soil building cover crop area. In the foreground are crops growing where a buckwheat cover crop was, and we noticed there were fewer weeds!
Andrew on the tractor, way in the background, working on the new cover crop area. We know it is good land, and although we don’t want to increase our vegetable area, we do want to improve our rotation to include more cover crops. So, we need more land area worked up to accomplish this.
Carmen and Robert setting up ground beetle traps after dark
By the next morning, this is what we caught in one of the traps. So thrilling!
Carmen even found a ground beetle larva in one of the traps.
Andrew, Olivia, and Kara planting parsley in the greenhouse that used to be full of cucumbers and other summer crops. This greenhouse is being changed over to winter crops.
Leeks, cabbage, fennel, and celery in fox field, with sunflowers and calendula at the end of most rows
Here are rows of eggplant with clover in between. Ground beetles love clover habitat
Soon, the farthest tunnel is going to be moved to the right, to cover kale which is being irrigated
David building wood crates that makes moving cord wood easier. Each cabin with have its own wood crate, covered with used clear plastic (with strategically placed holes) to dry the wood before it is used for heating in the winter.
Jason MacKenzie is a Nova Scotian chef who is interested in using locally produced ingredients
Behind the scenes: Maddie and Erin at Market
A reminder of the sweet relationship between the Market team and the farm team
Here’s a sneak peek at the fall radicchio crop coming up!

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