Sunday, September 25, 2011

Lessons from 2011 Gardening - Part 2

Pest Control
As with any year it’s important to record your pests and how you handled them. This year we had 2 main kinds 1)Japanese beetles and 2) yellow jackets.

Japanese Beetles – Last year we had beetles bad and almost lost all my fruit trees so I didn’t bother to research or plan for beetles this year since I heard they are an every OTHER year pest. Not true at all. We had more beetles this year than any other year. Turns out we will need to treat our yard to kill the babies as worms. Beetles LOVE grapes, raspberries, blackberries, peppers and okra all of which I grow. After half of a summer looking we have a nice little home remedy for the darned beetles. Pots of chives and cat nip/mint placed threw out my garden. We had tried multiple natural sprays involving pepper which would work for a day or 2 but not much more. Storms, water, dew all of that knocks the sprays off the plant. When you grow as much fruit as I do that’s a lot of spraying and a lot of hours. I bet I did 1hr a day for a week before I gave up for solution #2.

Now some might ask why not use chemicals? Good question. Most fruit have delicate skin and crevices like raspberries and blackberries. You cannot get chemicals out of those areas. The delicate skin will absorb the chemicals and become part of the fruit you eat. I will never advocate putting chemicals on any fruit. Better to lose the crop and find a natural solution than to put chemicals into what will become your body.

We did find out that we caused a portion of the beetle infestation. We plant marigolds to prevent deer and aphids out of our garden and they got out of control. Almost EVERY box has a perimeter of marigolds. Now 80% of garden pests HATE that smell but there’s 1 bug that it’s their favorite scent and that’s beetles. With all the rain we had this summer our marigolds grew as tall as some plants which turned out to be a bad thing. They brought in the beetles and our pest #2 yellow jackets.

Yellow jackets might not seem like a pest but they are. They are extremely territorial and nested in one of my beds beside my cantaloupe and the overgrown marigolds. They had their main 2 food sources there and weren’t leaving. I managed to save one cantaloupe but they devoured the others and chased anyone that came near the bed. That meant I lost 32ft of great planting soil. I had no choice but to wait it out and start pulling marigolds. Once the cantaloupe season was over they left on their own and took my cantaloupe with them.

The only other pests we had this year were birds that ate ALL of my grapes. Right before Hurricane Irene the grapes were nice but not quite ready; they needed about another week or two before they were finished. The very weekend after Irene the grapes were all gone. Lesson learned: net the grapes prior to them getting ripe. We really didn’t think our crop that was in it’s 2nd year was big enough to worry about birds but we were wrong.

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