Garden, Plant, Cook!

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Pests In The Fall Garden, The Role of Ants, and Some interesting Links, plus my Interview Podcast

Dear Folks,

It is that time of year when the nights cool and while we are enjoying it, so are some of the pest bugs.  The aphids, mealybugs, leaf miners, horn worms etc. come out.  The plants are energized by the cooler day time temps and so are the bugs who want to eat them.

Pictured to the right is an aphid infestation back in March (Spring and Fall are the major invasion times because of the warm days, but cool nights.)  I had a similar invasion on one of my pepper plants and treated it with Neem spray.  In March I used a hard hosing followed by the home made safe soap spray - recipe below*.
While it looks like this plant (my Lemon Queen Sunflower) could not recover from something like that, it went on to grow healthy, and is still flowering today.

This morning while crusing the garden looking for photo-ops I spotted mealybugs on one of my pepper plants.  Mealbugs are a form of scale insect and, like aphids, they suck the life out of the plant stems.  Sometimes the damage is minimal and sometimes they can completely compromise the overhealth of the plant.

I could just scrape them off, but in this case I notice a LOT of ant activity around them.  Ants "shepherd" both mealybugs and aphids, protecting and nurturing them like a ranch raises cattle. It is a little hard to make out the ants, in the low morning light this was the best my camera would do.

Ants are nature's clean up crew in our gardens and sometimes you see them on flowers, collecting some nectar.  However, if you see a LOT of ant activity look for aphids or scale/mealybugs and be proactive.  You can scrape off scale, but not aphids.  I chose to go with a spray.  I ran out of my Neem and found an alternative Organic spray which seems to work fine.  It is a mixture of essential oils, plus wax and oils.

To adequately control aphids you need to spray every 5 days for a total of 3 times minimum to ensure you take care of adults, hatchlings and eggs that will hatch out

Next up are leafminers and the ubiquitous hornworm of the Solano family of plants (tomatoes, peppers, etc.)  The hornworms are big - this one was about 3 inches long and I discovered it while picking off the leaves of one of my pepper plants infected with leafminers.

Leafminer damage is generally more cosmetic than severely damaging to a mature plant, but still I don't want to let them get really going.  Just pick off the leaves and toss - do not compost.

Deane and view the hornworms differently.  He destroys them and I relocate them (this time to the dump trailer where it can have a possible chance to morph into the Sphinx Moth which is a major pollinator of desert cactus).

Limit sprays where you can pick off the bug or in the case of the leafminers the whole leaves.  This helps to keep sprays away from possibly hitting the good guy bugs.

Accept some damage in your gardens to "ring the dinner bell for the beneficial insects to show up".  If there are no visible pests then the beneficials may not come to your rescue when you really need them.

Also keep something blooming in the garden at all times.  The beneficial insects also need nectar.

I collected some interesting links this week to share with you.

Edible Pastic Wrap for foods

Shared by Geoff Lawton - Counter top compost system with a difference

Mark Lewis interviewed on podcast - Desert Forager - Mark shares his knowledge learned from his grandfather passed down to him through many generations of native experience.  You can find Mark at the Old Town Scottsdale Farmers Market on Saturdays.

My interview by Greg Peterson of Urban Farm.  There are several optional links.

IN THIS PODCAST: Catherine shares with Greg some of her tricks that she has figured out for growing herbs in her garden in Phoenix. She explains how she learned about new herbs by asking her farmers market customers about their heritage, and how she experimented to expand her knowledge and skills. She talks about some of her favorites including nasturtium, stevia and Syrian oregano. She teaches Greg how to pick herbs for the best enjoyment and how to make a personal blend.

Main Link at Urban Farm



. . .

My 2017 Calendar and More

You can find my 2017 Wall Calendar at Amazon.  This is a "book" form, stapled down the center so you can use it at your desk or punched and hung on the wall.  Click on my author name to find Amazon's listings of my other books.

You can also find all my publications at my publishers page.  The 2017 Calendar is available in 3 forms.  The stapled form as at Amazon, a PDF which can be read on any device you have which has Adobe Reader on it and the standard spiral bound and punched wall calendar.

I hope you have a truly enjoyable time in the fall garden.

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady


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