Some much needed help to deal with your garden invaders
Its that time of year when the gardeners all start sending in their vegetable questions. This year there seems to be a theme around 3 specific problems that home growers are having with their favourite tomatoes, lettuces, kale and flowering cucurbits.
Aphids and Ants.
A good Aphid infestation often comes with a colony of ants to look after them. Think of aphids as garden cows, eating all of the greens while the ants are the farmers, harvesting the secretions from the aphids. Sounds gross right! Well, it kind of is! Aphids are one of my nemeses because not only do they go after my veggies, they invade my hibiscus blooms as well. I’ve tried several different solutions including store-bought insecticidal soap, a high pressure hose and even removing hem by hand. So far, the best and cheapest solution has been to save the water from my morning shower and spray this on the plants every day. The average amount of soap and shampoo that you use each day is the perfect solution to make your flowers less tasty to the bugs, without doing damage to the plant.
I have to admit, these little chewers have made lovely lacework out of my mustards, arugula and kale this year. Flea beetles tend to move into an area like a little swarm and chew perfect little holes into all the best leaves of your salad greens. There are several methods to catching them including sticky traps and beneficial nematodes. I usually default to Diatomaceous earth, which is a powder made from grinding up fossilized hard shell algae. This usually does the trick of removing the beetles in about 48 hours and its safe for human consumption. Once you know the beetles have been eradicated, then prune off any of the damaged leaves so that your plants will start to sprout new healthy growth.
Earwigs are everywhere in the garden (and the house this year)...and they are hunger than ever! Thankfully, there are a few ways to deal with these voracious invaders. As Earwigs have exoskeletons, they are very susceptible to Diatomaceous powder, much like the flea beetles. Another great way to catch these insects is by trapping them in a roll of newspaper. Take a section of the paper that is at least 5-6 pages thick and roll it to create a tube. Use a simple elastic band to keep the shape. Next, soak the paper so that it is wet, but not limp. Place this wet tube in the area with earwig activity and leave overnight. Each morning, shake the tube into a bucket of soapy water. Any earwigs that crawled in are easily dealt with
Hope this helps with some of your garden questions. If not, please don’t hesitate to send me your outdoor problems. Chances are, if you are having them…someone else is as well!