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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Garden Pest Control

Community Gardens - what started all of this
Container Gardens - first installment
Looking Like A Pro - third installment

2/13/08 Diseases affecting vegetable plants - from MSU - more information at the bottom of the page

2/13/08 Insect pictures from MSU

Second Installment
Most 4-leggers aren't such a bad problem unless they've discovered the area to be GREAT for buffet eating. And you want to keep it that way.

Rule #1: Start controlling before you start planting.
Animals are creatures of habit. If they find a particular spot to always be smelly, bad-tasting, or hard to get to, they'll just not go to it or through it anymore. So if you start the habit of avoidance before you put tasty treats in there, it'll be far easier to maintain avoidance after your deer salad-bar is established.
BUT - they will tolerate just about anything if they know there's a good meal at the other side. So if you wait until they've found your growing stash, you've lost the war and the battle.

Rule #2: All animals hate something.
Deer hate the smell and taste of egg whites, the smell of canine urine or any blood, the taste of hot pepper and bananas.
Rabbits, wood chucks, moles, voles, and to a certain extent 'possums and raccoons all hate the smell of canine urine, garlic (not necessarily mixed, but it wouldn't hurt) or any blood, and hate the taste of hot pepper.
Dogs and cats hate the smell of citrus and the taste of hot. Sometimes the smell of vinegar (cats especially).
Slugs and snails die on egg shells.
All don't like dish soap.

I've personally never needed to use urine. You can get powdered at the hunting stores - but I don't bother. Blood sounds really icky, but you can get either bloodmeal or a fertilizer called Malorganite to use. Even just sprinkled lightly within the garden area is enough to keep them at bay.

The other stuff - you can mix together in water with just a little dish soap (helps it stick to plants and paws). Froth up a couple of egg whites, add a tablespoon powdered garlic, a tablespoo hot sauce, teaspoon white pepper or cayenne and just a little bit of dish soap - 1 teaspoon per gallon. mix this into a gallon of water. If you're going to protect a larger area, water spots in regular increments. Like a splash ever 18". The smell will go throughout the area. If it's a small area, saturate the area with it. None of this will hurt the grass or plants. Just don't get any in your eyes. LOL - I'm speaking from experience.

You can crush up your egg shells to use - I crush a dozen at a time in a morter and pestle, but you can also use a blender (my mom's way). Put a little moat of them around each plant stalk you want to protect. Bonus! - generally speaking, the ground is always in need of extra calcium, so this will aid your plants in two ways - protection and root growth.

If you eat a fair number of bananas, just take your peels out to the garden area, and throw them there. Chopping them and scattering is more effective, but not necessary. You can also just place them around the plants you want to protect if you don't want to risk stepping on one. Bonus! Soil can always use extra potassium (potash), so you get double duty again.

Citrus peels - chopped definitely works better. Bonus! Beneficial nematodes LOVE citrus peels. they help ward off BAD bugs - always a good thing.

Rule #3: Nothing lasts forever.
Rain rules. Rain cleanses. And so, the stuff you've just watered your ground with will slowly fade away and will need to be repeated. I generally start with once every 3 days. After 2 weeks, I drop back to once a week for a month, and then usually once a month works - or after a heavy rain - like more than a half inch.

Rule #4: Nothing is perfect.
If the animals find that you're hiding goodies behind a smelly curtain, they're going to find a way through it to eat. This means building a fence. Chicken wire and a couple of stakes works well. You want it to be 4' high and from the ground up - preferably a couple inches IN the ground. Place it about 3' away from your plants, but no more than that. This keeps things from crawling under, reaching over, or jumping in. If you want, you can place your used drier sheets on the fence as well. The smell and the flutter generally is distasteful to the critters - and the smell generally lasts through rainfalls.

Diseases (very pest like)
These are what I've found online to be the most common...
Damping-Off (seedling disease)—Seeds of many vegetables are susceptible to damping-off fungi when planted in infested soils. [This can be avoided by keeping the seedlings warmer rather than cooler.]

Root Rot of Beans and Southern Peas—Root rot is severe on green beans, lima beans, and southern peas. The disease first appears as reddish or reddish-brown areas on stems and roots.

Early Blight of Tomatoes—Early blight is a major disease of tomatoes in Mississippi
[This can be partially controlled with powdered milk of all things. Mulching also helps - keeps soil fromsplashing up on plant and infecting it]

Blossom-End Rot of Tomatoes—Blossom-end rot occurs on the tomato fruit. It begins as a small, water-soaked spot that develops into a dark brown, leathery spot that may involve half the fruit. [Calcium and even moisture - periods of drought and then very wet - are the best way to prevent this. Powdered milk, OR - ground up drywall!]

Spotted Wilt of Tomatoes and Peppers—This viral disease is transmitted by several species of thrips and may kill plants or drastically reduce fruit-set. Fruits from diseased plants are generally small and distorted. Tomatoes develop irregular yellowish blotches. [I've had this happen. Yuck! Pull the plants out as soon as you see they are infected. Don't plant tomatos there for a few years. Don't plant too close together. Mulch to keep soil from splashing up on plants during rain]

Southern Blight—Southern blight affects most garden vegetables. The fungus that causes southern blight attacks plant parts (roots, stems, leaves, or fruit) that are in contact with or just under the soil surface. [aluminum foil 2" and 2" above the soil surface wrapped around the stem]

Mosaic—This virus disease commonly infects beans, sweet corn, squash, melons, cucumbers, peas, peppers, and tomatoes.

Powdery Mildew—Powdery mildew is caused by a fungus that commonly occurs as a white, powdery growth on leaves of cucumbers, squash, melons, beans, and English peas. Benomyl and chlorothalonil effectively control powdery mildew on vine crops, and sulfur provides control on beans and peas [powdered milk, a pinch of baking soda mixed in water and spray until plant is dripping]

Nematode Diseases—Nematodes are slender, tiny, worm-like animals that feed on plant roots, stems, and leaves. Nematodes cannot ordinarily be seen with the naked eye and go unnoticed until plants become unthrifty and stunted [chop up orange peels and scratch into soil.]

Leaf Spots—Leaf spots, caused by fungi or bacteria, commonly occur on many vegetables. They appear on leaves and sometimes stems as distinct, dark-colored or tan spots one-sixteenth to 1 inch in diameter. [It's that powdered milk thing again]

Bacterial Wilt of Cucumbers---This destructive disease is caused by a bacterium that overwinters in the bodies of adult striped and spotted cucumber beetles. As these beetles feed on young plants in the spring, bacteria are introduced into the vascular system.

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