Archive for the ‘pests’ Category

Sizzlin’ Monday, June 21st, 2010

As the mercury rises I have a tendency to hide. I’m a wilter at the first sign of 80F, even a 75F day can get to me. Perhaps it’s that I have a little hotbox for a baby on me most of the time. I peel her away, hair curled with sweat, she smiles at me and I think, “Oh well, it rained last night so at least I don’t have to water, I think we’ll stay right here.” That little babe is a real lazy-maker out of me.

But, this is the time the critters and pests start getting my flora and I told myself I’d be more vigilant after last year’s buggy munchers got so much of our produce. Blighted tomatoes – can’t really do much except move the next season’s crop as far away from the affected area, check!

There are a few things you can do for bad buggos

  • Collar tender plants to keep cutworms away – can use a can, plastic bottle cut into a ring or a TP roll cut into a ring – immerse 1″ of whatever you use into the dirt at the base of the plant
  • Slugs – beer can be used a bait, or sprinkle diatomaceous earth (crushed shells of sea animals) around the slugs favorite plants (hosta, lettuces) or if you have no qualms go out in the morning with the salt shaker and sprinkle on the little critters and watch osmosis in action.
  • Aphids – introduce some lady bugs with short-lived success, blast them with water – simple and effective or use insecticidal soaps
  • Inspect and treat the underside of plants where most insects like to hang out and lay their eggs.
  • Self-rising flour is a home-remedy I’ve heard about and tried. Works for brassica that are getting munched and I’m thinking I might also try it on my vining plants for the squash borer I had last year.
  • Treat early in the day with most of these remedies – that’s when the munchers are most active.

None of these solutions will have a chance of working if I don’t get out there and inspect my garden. So, onward and outside I’ll be heading to ward off those pesky peskersons.

easter bunny damage Saturday, April 3rd, 2010

Rabbit damage through the winter. Note the tell-tale litter of "raisins" underneath.

I’ve heard a bit on area-person’s bunny damage. Nipped branches, chewed bark ringing tree trunks at different levels depending on where the snow height was during that particular snack time, and piles of droppings under the most tasty and gluttonous of rabbit-dining experiences (at least they are leaving a very good fertilizer behind).

Today I took note of one of my own. An old cotoneaster bush at the SW corner of my house – a couple whole branches stripped of bark. This is minimal damage at best. So far I’m happy to report there have been no other casualties to note. My youngest trees/shrubs: a catalpa seedling, larch, forsythia and witch hazel don’t show any damage. I took extra care last fall to protect them. I utilized old circular tomato cages and set inside an additional lining of chicken-wire fencing or green plastic mesh. I made sure to go up to a good height knowing bunnies will skip along the tp of snow drifts and snip off any branches poking out from the protective icy layer.

The most noteworthy damage I’ve heard by a rabbit came from my parents. They’d just gotten back from a trip to find their internet connection down. After assistance from family and a call to the cable company followed by a technicians visit, it was determined that a rabbit had chewed through their cable in the crawl space under the house. Now that’s a hungry bunny.

In preparation, 3Rs Friday, February 12th, 2010

Reduce Reuse Recycle,

I’m in full-on prep mode for the coming season.

  • I’ve started a compost jug (this may be a bit early as my compost pile is under 5′ of snow). The plastic lock-tight coffee canisters work great for this, though trying to brew the morning joe, I inevitably open the wrong one – well, that’s one way to wake yourself.
  • I’ve been collecting my clear plastic juice, water and sports drink bottles. I cut almost all the way around the base , leaving an inch to keep it still attached – this flap will be the anchor I can use by placing a rock on it or covering it with dirt. Much better than trying to pile dirt around the side – especially with our SD winds. These will act as seedling protectors when I first put the little plants out in the garden. They will help with wind, cool nights and heavy rains. If you do clip off the bases, use them for kids’ paint trays or beer trays for baiting slugs later.
  • Old plastic bottles can also be cut diagonally from the base into “scoops” to be left in fertilizer, amendment or potting soil bags.
  • I’ve also taken to collecting TP roll tubes and paper towel tubes. I saw a hint in a magazine where 2-3″ cut-up tubes were used for plant pots. Set on a tray – filled with dirt, and seed – once ready for transplant outside one needs only to slide the dirt a little down the tube and plant the whole thing, leaving an inch of the tube above ground. This tube provides a little support as well as protection from cutworms that like to wrap themselves around the base of new plants, clipping ‘em at the base. The paper tubes end up composting.
  • I’ve also made newspaper pots using an almost origami technique – those ended up turning to mush by transplant time so I haven’t tried them again.
  • Old newspapers can also be used as mulch. I’ve gone back and forth about oil vs. soy-based inks – though the latter is obviously optimum, the little research I’ve done is that oil-based inks, at such a small increments such as those used in a daily newspaper, pose no contamination risks. You can also find naked newsprint end-rolls that are free of all inks too. I’ve found newsprint difficult to work with on an average SD day – unless you wet them immediately and weigh them down with some dirt, they will end up in a not-too-pleased neighbor’s yard.
  • If you have any old mini-blinds they work great as labels. Just snip them into 5-6″ pieces and use a permanent marker to label. Popcicle sticks work too but tend to bleed their labels. They do work as simple markers for seeds layed out in a bed though. Great for this girl who forgets just where she tried to sow some poppy and hollyhock seeds in her perennial bed.
  • I went through my seeds and organized them by planting times: anywhere from 10 wks. inside to “outside after danger of frost has passed.” I used an old floppy disc holder to store them in. Other options would be recipe containers or tackle boxes.
  • My seeds came in from Baker Creek and I found some from last year. I wrote in a notebook which ones need to get planted first and I’m working on a planting calendar to post here some time soon. So far, in my garden, I’ll be planting by seed: pumpkins, winter squash (last year’s leftovers), peppers (hot and sweet), watermelon, tomatoes, okra (had good luck with past years), beans, peas, edamame (only tried once – failure – will give it another shot), slo-bolt cilantro and lavender. Some will be started indoors, some outdoors and some, both ways to see what way has better luck.
The start of the end Friday, September 11th, 2009

The Hub has started ‘wringing out’ the garden. A lot of our stuff has succumbed to slugs. Anything grazing the ground from pumpkin to tomato has been feast for the slimy buggers. Usually noted on a couple squash or hostas the sucking buggers can really do some damage. Their prevalence only made stronger by the wet, cool summer we’ve had. The Hub ripped out a few tomato plants leaving the good fruit to sit and ripen on a table in the sun. A couple pumpkins are ready to grace the front steps to welcome fall. A couple pie pumpkins, I can almost taste. Peppers have been picked. Strawberries have started to rest. Though it’s been 80 in the afternoons, the cooler evenings and mornings whisper of what will come soon enough. Carrots, cabbage-family and apples may stay as they sweeten with a light, gulp, frost. It’s a good idea to roll your gourd-family produce just to check you don’t have a hollow pumpkin from the slugs. I really like this time of year to jot down what hasn’t worked. It actually gives me hope more than anything. Lets just hope my memory stays strong enough to recall my mistakes when planning next year’s gardens. I’m hoping for: more raised beds, more weed barriers, new soaker hoses, and again more space.

Squash vine borer or &*(&*%#@! Monday, August 10th, 2009
Squash vine borer at base of bush-type butternut squash

Squash vine borer at base of bush-type butternut squash

My 3 sisters garden is not doing so well. I have 3 stalks of corn and I’ve lost about 1/2 my squash and pumpkin plants.

Apparently learning from my mistakes is my modus operandi. I found many of these ugly bugglies too late to save the plant. A couple ‘fruits’ had just started fattening at the base of the disintegrated flowers. I managed to get one acorn squash from another plant. Insecticides are useless after infestation. This usually happens in late June, early July. My guess is the dryer and hotter the season the earlier they will show up, and possibly fewer. Their entrance is apparent from the yellowing and chewed up opening usually at the base of the plant. I noticed first because even though there was plenty of water couple of my plants still looked wilted. This is a sure sign. Plus – I’m not the most inspective, nor attentive gardener. If you catch the maggot-like offender early you can slice a small opening and get rid of the worm well, an way you see fit – just get rid of it. Then cover the wound with soil.

The adult is a gray moth that flies by day. It emerges from a cocoon in the ground and quickly thereafter lays its eggs. I’ve grown squash and/or pumpkins every year and this is the first time I’ve seen them, let alone have such a large infestation. Unlike past years most of my plants were heirloom this time and that can sometimes mean a lack of resistance to pests that a hybrid plant would have. Another culprit could be the unusually and consistently cool, wet summer we’ve had.

Firewood restrictions Monday, July 27th, 2009

This past week the fam and I trucked over to Detroit Lakes for the 10,000 Lakes Festival. Loads of good times. Anyway, they were not allowing any firewood brought into the campsites because of the emeral ash borer. It’s slowing moving it’s way closer to us and the spread can often be tied to humans. Transporting and plant matter can lead to a myriad of problems like the introduction of new invasive species, fauna or flora. That’s why in garden catalogs you will see state exemptions. This can be because of their invasiveness in that particular region or the difficulty of shipping.