Rescuing Beans from the Dreaded Spider Mite

For those of you who have had your bean crop devastated by spider mites at the end of a hot dry summer, I may have discovered a solution this year. At least for those of us with smaller gardens… Since I have only had a few weeks to try this – my success can only be taken as something worth a try next year. Or even now.

For the last 3 years my beans have all been pretty well wiped out by mites before I got a enough to freeze. Last year I tried cutting some of the bush beans back to a nub to see if they would regrow “mite-less” and was only partially successful.

This year – armed with the knowledge that the conditions mites thrive in are hot, dry and dusty – I began spraying down my beans with water every day. One batch I did from the day they put out their first leaves, another bed I didn’t start until they were fairly well grown (and beginning to show signs of mites) and a bed of my

My favorite pole bean, struggling from a mite attack...
My favorite pole bean, struggling from a mite attack…

favorite pole beans (Fortex) I didn’t think to spray until they were pretty well taken over by mites… every leaf speckled white (that was pretty dang dumb!).

Here’s what I have found:

The beans I sprayed nearly every day (really drenching them till they were beaten down to the ground with water) are looking and producing wonderfully! Here’s a picture of them:

bush beans doing well
Beans that I sprayed with water from the day they were planted – doing well!

The ones that I started spraying later are producing very well and although they show signs of mites – they aren’t getting much worse.

more beans
Beans that are doing fairly well and producing in spite of some mite damage…

The Fortex pole beans which were struggling along trying to produce a bean here and there are making a comeback since I started spraying them everyday. I didn’t really have much hope – but decided it was worth a try. I’m really glad I did now, because I just may get a half-way decent crop from them this year after all!

My spraying method is pretty forceful because I want to get every side of the plants leaves, and I discovered that you could really hose bush beans down forcefully and have them pop back up the next day.  I didn’t seem to deplete the crop by doing that either, much to my surprise.  I may have knocked a flower off now and then, but somehow they are still producing well!

wax beans managing to produce a few beans in spite of mite attack..
wax beans managing to produce a few beans in spite of mite attack..

Many of the plants on my deck are attacked by mites as well, and although – unlike beans – they don’t put out lots of new leaves all the time, spraying things down seems to be keeping things from getting worse.

I wish now that I could discover something as simple as this for dealing with aphids…

part of the beans picked today
Part of today’s picking – part given to my son for dinner with a friend! Yea!
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2 comments

  1. Very very nice blog!
    Spider mites. Have not run into that, but have flea beetles in tomatoes in the hoop house.
    Last year they only liked an egg plant, this year they have gone crazy and are everywhere!
    No egg plants were planted.
    Tried Neem oil but did it wrong. Tried a hand held spray bottle rather than a deck sprayer.
    The hand held sprayer is a failure as the oil and water do not mix and the sprayer clogs.
    You might all know this. But, live and learn in the garden…
    Have not gotten out to try the deck sprayer yet.

    We did have an interesting experiance with small lemon trees that have scale though.
    Put them outside for spring and summer and the ants took over.
    Started blasting them with water daily (like you did for the beans) and the ants took off and the yellow jackets came!
    They can “bee” a beneficial predator. Just don’t plundge a shovel into thier nest!

    Like

  2. Thanks for the nice comment! As for dealing with flea beetles I find the challenge with using even an “organic” pesticide is that you may be killing the “good” guys as well… My usual approach is to work on the soil and micro-organisms (add some azolla and or compost) and feed the plants (with something like my Kickapoo Joy Juice!). A strong healthy plant can often outgrow and survive an insect attack if it’s not too bad. Try cleaning up the ground around plants that were effected this fall – and scratch in a good layer of fresh compost. Maybe that will cut down on them next season. And plant LOTS of flowers that attract the beneficial insects… Good luck!

    Like

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