Thursday, April 23, 2009

Raised Bed Vegetable Garden - Update on Pest Control

Okay ... fair warnin' there's a mild southern style hissy fit just ahead first off - scroll on down to those little ~~tildes~~ if you would rather do without it!

Don't you just love when somebody that you have never had any interaction with whatsoever, pops onto one of your posts, criticizes your post with a 'instead of that, why don't you do this' and then posts their website?

Clearly the primary intent is simply to divert your readers to their site, otherwise wouldn't they simply email you privately?

Now, in all fairness, maybe this person's intent was honorable - just meant to be helpful, to me and to my readers. And maybe I'm bein' sensitive - I have been known to do that.

Well, the comment came across to me as nothing but Comment Spam, and just downright rude! At first I was just going to post a comment back and then I thought wait a minute. This is my blog. And that is what a delete button is for, so bye-bye Comment Spammer!

Well to be fair to my readers, I'll say that this particular comment was related to my use of chemicals and apparently how I should use more organic methods. Well, let me tell you, I would love to be organic. I have tried organic. And my experience has been that, while that may work along the eastern seaboard of our beautiful country, at least here in the deep South, it's a huge waste of time, energy, money and well, it just does not work. Not to mention your frustration level will be on the constant increase and gardening should be relaxing and fun, not stressful. I, for one, am over it.

Now, if you're growing a HUGE garden that you don't mind giving up some of it to disease and pests, then organic might work for you down here. At least then maybe you'll have at least half of your garden to harvest. I just have a little home plot. If you don't mind puny plants that put out little - especially under the extreme heat stress we have down south - then organic might work for you down here. Again, I just have a little home plot. If you have LOADS of time on your hands to go on flashlight expeditions to pick off bugs every evening or very early every morning, then organic might work for you down here. I have better things to do and not near enough patience.

And, quite frankly, I figure if somebody wants an organic garden, they'll be googling more professional gardening websites than my little ole blog here! Maybe even your website Comment Spammer!

I actually already had this post on pest control typed up a week ago, but intended to add to it and hadn't gone through to edit it yet either, but I thought what better day to post this than today!

So I guess it would be appropriate to first issue a{nother} disclaimer, besides the one that tells y'all that I am a non-professional, amateur home gardener, and you should take what you need and leave the rest here at my little ole blog, but also, if you are an organic gardener, or if you are against the use of chemicals in gardening, you will want to change the channel, because this post is Rated "C" for CHEMICAL.

Okay, hissy fit over. I'll get back to the reserved, quiet lady my Mama taught me to be now...

~~~~~~~~~

So, my biggest problem in past years of trying to do a vegetable garden has been the battle of the bugs. I have tried to be "gentle" in dealing with this - trying every natural and organic method of pest control in existence. Unfortunately, the bugs seem to keep winning. And my plants suffer.

This year, I'm pulling out the big guns. And I'm doing it early before they take hold.

When I moved into this house 14 years ago, much of the yard, front and back was scant in the grass department and overabundant in weeds. But, it was also lacking in any landscaping to speak of too, so the bugs had nothing to bother but the grass, which they had a field day on.

My dream is to have a thick, lush yard full of beautiful green grass and no weeds, but, since I can't afford to have the entire yard ripped up and sodded to accomplish that, I have battled to try to get my current grass healthy from day one. The front yard is in much better shape than it once was, but the back yard, well it has been a constant losing battle.

In one of my spring efforts to battle the weeds a few years ago, I put down the wrong type of weed and feed fertilizer. By the time I discovered that it said "not for use on St. Augustine," well, there wasn't much I could do. After that, it seemed that the weeds just sort of took over.

But we're here to talk about the gardens - more specifically the veggie garden - and not the yard.

But, in truth, they are related because a yard full of weeds, means a yard full of bugs too. The birds love this of course, however, it creates problems when you try to put in flower beds, or grow a veggie garden, because a yard full of bugs, means gardens full of them too. They very quickly find their way into your gardens and will destroy all of your hard work!

It wasn't long after I planted my veggie garden that I began to see evidence that the bug population was alive and well, on both my flowers and yes, already on my brand new, just planted vegetables. Yikes!

This damage was on one of the newly sprouted green bean plants. I am not sure what type of pest caused this damage, but common predators on beans are aphids, and Japanese and Mexican bean beetles. I'm guessing beetles are at work here.

This is one of the smaller bell pepper plants from the 9-cell pack I planted. As you see nearly all of one side of the leaf has been under a munch attack! Biggest predators of pepper plants are cutworms and flea beetles. This is probably some type of worm or possibly even a caterpillar.

This is one of the smaller tomato plants. The trails that you see are from what are called leaf miners. They are near impossible to get completely rid of because they are embedded in the leaf itself, but you can treat them with a general insecticide. Just be sure to remove damaged leaves, and put them into a plastic bag and discard of them straight into your garbage can. If you just toss them on your compost pile, believe it or not, somehow, someway, they will find their way back to your garden!

Last year, squash bugs destroyed every single one of my squash plants and melon plants. One day you will have a beautiful plant, complete with flower buds and lookin' like it's just about to burst forth beautifully with squash, and then next day, you'll have this mess. The squash bugs insert their needle-like mouth into the plant tissue and basically just suck it dry while releasing a toxin that wilts the entire plant and kills it.

Photo Credit: http://www.meadowwoodgarden.com

Truthfully, if there's a bug to be found in a garden, I've probably had it. And I'm tired of it.

So, in an effort to finally be rid of most of the bugs, I decided this season to break out the big guns. I want to nip this pest problem in the bud if at all possible. So, this year, I'm using this.

In the yard. In the flower beds. And, at least for my first treatment anyway, in the veggie patch. Then if the pests appear to be fairly under control, I'll calm it down and switch over to a more natural and organic approach. This Triazicide is for broad spectrum control of over 180 insects in lawns, trees, shrubs, roses, flowers and vegetables.

They do make this product as a ready to spray bottle with the hose attachment so that there is no mixing involved, but it costs a little more so you pay for the convenience. I prefer to buy the bottle of concentrate that you mix up yourself. It goes much further and in order to use that version, you'll need one of these.

There are a wide variety of these sprayers on the market in every imaginable price range. This one is the cheap, cheap version and while it is easy enough to use, it is a major pain to depressurize. Basically you fill up the jug with water, add the bug spray - in this case 1 tablespoon of the concentrate - cap it, tighten it, pump it to pressurize the contents and then spray. Once it empties, you depressurize it, open it and repeat. The problem is that it is hard to turn the valve that depressurizes it. And, while the handle locks down so that you can carry it easy, every time that I have to turn the handle the other way to open it to refill it, I just know that sucker is gonna break. If you choose to use this type of sprayer, you should use separate sprayers for separate applications. In other words, buy one sprayer for bug spray, another for weed killer, etc.

But, I prefer to use these sprayers instead. I'm all about easy.


You simply fill the container about half full with whatever treatment product you are using. Don't be a dunce like me and underfill it and then wonder why the heck it's not working right! You have to fill it at least 1/4 full for it to work, so just go ahead and fill it halfway. Attach the top and set the dial for the product application as recommended, in this case 1 tablespoon. Attach to the hose, turn on the water and apply as directed. When finished, return the unused portion of the product back to its original container, rinse the container and then fill it with water and spray to flush the sprayer out before storing it.

Last year and the year before, I had bunches of beautiful tomatoes. And when I would go out and check on my garden, I would discover that 4 or 5 of them had holes in them! It took me a while to find out that it was because I had a major slug problem.

Photo Credit: http://weblogs.newsday.com

While I was able to catch and pluck a few of them by hand, once your garden is growing well and your tomato plants are big and bushy, well, they are pretty difficult to spot. And who wants to trudge around the garden in the dark with a flashlight tryin' to catch 'em anyway?! I tried every method known to man to get rid of these things - copper strips, seaweed, beer traps, whatever. Nothing worked. Until I tried this product.

Diatomaceous earth is a more natural method to use. It worked, but it's messy and well, ugly in the garden. But it's effective. It consists of powdery, granular material that can be sprinkled around in your garden bed and plants and is actually the skeletal remains of microscopic creatures, so it has tiny sharp grains that will cut into the slugs and lacerate their body, making them dehydrate. You have to put it down when it's dry though because water renders it near ineffective. Don't use the pool grade diatomaceous earth - it's a finer grain and therefore will not be as effective. Don't use on a windy day, and be sure when you do use it, that you are standing upwind and not downwind when applying it, to avoid breathing it in because it is a lung irritant. You may even want to don a protective mask.

But, I prefer to use this.

Bug-Geta is a baiting treatment that you apply directly to the soil underneath plants - taking care not to put it directly up against the plant. It is all-weather so it doesn't lose it's effectiveness if it gets wet. Apply it following an irrigation and in the evening to get rid of those suckers once and for all. This stuff works and it works fast! There is a new product out called Bug-Geta Plus, which is also effective against cutworms, armyworms, earwigs, crickets, grasshoppers and other pests, so I would recommend getting that product. What I have up there is leftover from last year. If you spot slug damage, get busy treatin' 'em right away, because they will destroy a hosta in no time and they totally dig your ripening tomatoes too.

Sevin is also very effective on a wide range of pests, especially those nasty Japanese beetles, and this is what those buggers will do to a plant in no time!

Photo Credit: http://health.utah.gov/

... but again, it's messy. Sometimes though, you gotta resort to it. But, it's also very toxic to bees and butterflies and gardens need both, so just be sure to use it toward the end of day when the bees have finished their work. That will give it time to do it's job and then neutralize before bee scouting time in the morning.

I usually put mine in a leftover carpet sprinkle can, that has been cleaned out and dried. Like the diatomaceous earth, it is powdery, so protect yourself in the same manner.

For professional information on pests, check out the Insectipedia - I've put a link to it in the lower left hand sidebar, with the rest of my gardening links.

Well, that's about it for now. I have gardening to get back to!

Have a great day everybody and thanks for {tolerating me} letting me vent! ;)

Click HERE for all the Year One 2009 Square Foot Vegetable Garden Updates

25 comments:

  1. You go girl!! All frost warnings are finally gone for my part of the country so I'll be getting my stuff planted tomorrow. Good luck with the bugs.

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  2. I'm sorry, but I'm chuckling away at your little Southern Hissy Fit...LOL-LOL-LOL!

    Spammers are right next door to bugs...extermination is the only thing good for 'em!☺

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  3. Yay Shaylynn! I know you're ready to get some stuff in that dirt!

    LOL Tammy, love that!!

    That was a mild hissy fit I admit, but I have 'em every once in awhile. Like I said, that might not have been their intention, but it sure came off that way.

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  4. Ya Know.....I have to say that I am right beside you in the opinion that if you have nothing thoughtful or helpful to add.....shut up!!!
    GREEN doesn't work in my area either....and I love fertilizer! I have deleted many a comment due to ignorant and self serving readers that leave something that will either offend myself....or one of my valued readers!
    I use many of your chosen chemicals....and have seen a LOT of bugs in my day too....Good luck friend...and if you need a hand at having some back up in the chemical department.....you know where I am! lol

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  5. Honey, just do what ya gotta do! And enjoy the process. We live in the tropics, and yes, the rules are different. Have fun.

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  6. Hey Mary, we live in a world where people cry out what they hear WITHOUT considering ANY of the facts... GO Green, organic, or whatever! And, they don't give a hoot who is hurt, insulted, or if they look like a plain fool!

    Your rant was very uplifting to me, I'm not alone ROFLMAO

    Get rid of them bugs and just wash your veges before ya eat um ;)

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  7. I would never EVER think to insult someone like that! darn it. I mean, seriously, we're all just having fun here. and it's so interesting seeing what people do, eat, cook, grow, make and think.

    It just dawned on me.... a great thing about living in Nevada (besides the fact that I love it) is we don't get bugs. Hooray.
    But if we did, I'd sure as heck use what I needed!!
    No bugs, but no water either.... we all have different burdens in our gardens. LOL
    (I actually have water, but we are so dry, that I can water in the morning, in the evening it looks like a desert again..DUST)

    And let me tell you, we do "poisen" our ants and spiders!!

    And....a weird confession... I think it's cool to see a "crop duster" plane do his thing!!
    Probably not organic. But way cool!

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  8. LOL y'all are a HOOT! Thanks for the validation too - I sure needed it. ;) I was beginnin' to feel a little bad for my rant, but I'm gettin' rid of these suckers this year I tell ya!!

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  9. I can't even imagine the problems you have in the south with bugs, it's bad enough in Pa.!! Do whatcha gotta do girl, it's your garden!

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  10. I've had similar experiences with my garden...when I had a sunny spot for one. Baby everything, keep it watered and just as I'm about to reap the benefits of all my work...some cut worm comes along and the rest is history. Enjoyed this post! Susan

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  11. We gotta do what we gotta do! Last year here in Mo., we had so much rain, which brought sooo many bugs and mega mildew problems, that my garden was pretty much a failure.And, yes I resort to the same things you do.

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  12. Thanks ladies! I can see that I am in some very excellent company. Appreciate the input - I feel better now!!

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  13. You did the right thing, delete the comment, your blog is wonderful, your readers adore you, you dont need her negativity.. Mom must not have told them if you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all..

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  14. Now dearie, what you SHOULD do in your garden...

    LOL...just teasing!!!

    I have terrible battles with the squash bugs. I catapult them over the fence but they come back again. Sadly, I can't use pesticides because I have demented animals that eat up dirt, grass, green pumpkins, etc.

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  15. People never cease to amaze me. What's right for them just *has* to be right for you. Ha!

    If it ever stops snowing and freezing in these parts and we get our garden growing you can bet we'll be spraying for bugs!

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  16. Thanks again everybody for your support! Thing is, I appreciate input, it's just that I have TRIED organic the last near about 4 years. That is what this person did not know! All I have gotten is an increase in the bug population and crappy harvests. Maybe if I can get the bugs back under control then I can get back to being a bit more 'natural.'

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  17. Cornell-gardening in WIApril 26, 2009 at 4:42 PM

    I live in Wisconsin and our summers are far too short to be messing around with bugs. Last year, those damn trifecta curcubit pests (striped cucumber beetles, vine borers and those disgusting squash bugs that create more offspring than clowns coming out of a clown car) infested my whole squash crop! No offense, but Im not going to be pluckin those disgusting things off my crops. I got out the big guns. I sprayed everything with SEVIN. I bought the liquid gallon size and used the ortho dial attachment to my garden hose and sprayed the living crap out of my garden. Let me tell you, I saved my garden! Go ahead and when you have to use the insecticide! We would all love to be organice, but when push comes to shove, a gal's gotta do what a gal's gotta do!

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  18. I hear ya!! Organic is great but I really think you need to have a HUGE garden to pull it off and end up with anything.

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  19. I don't even know how I stumbled upon your blog, but it's great. I live in GA and just started my first veggie garden. My original plan was to do it organic, but as soon as I planted my veggies, bugs that I have never seen in my life came around! (my yard is also full of weeds, which I did not know means more bugs) The organic stuff I bought (some oil) does not seem to keep them away, so I am so happy I read this so I can just go ahead and get the real stuff, and be done with the bugs!

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  20. Hi Michelle and Welcome!

    I can certainly sympathize as you have read. I tried going all natural for several years and the bugs just took over. It's so frustrating!! I see bugs this year that I never noticed before in my garden - like aphids! But darned if my plants weren't infested with the stupid things! I have a little summary with links to everything in the lower left hand sidebar.

    Try to get your yard under control - that should help a lot. A yard full of weeds is a haven for bad bugs!! Get rid of the bugs - but be cautious about using pesticides when you have children and/or pets in the yard. Follow the label and check the precautions. After you treat for bugs, then put down a good weed & feed product and after that start feedin' your lawn regularly to get it healthy.

    If you don't treat your lawn and get that under control the pest population will just continue to expand - trust me on this one!

    Best of luck!!

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  21. I live in the humid South, also, and organic just doesn't get it with the bugs.Thank you for posting what has worked for you.

    I got a late start in planting so my plants are just starting to blossom.

    My tomatoes were looking beautiful until the deer ate the tops off of them. It was all I could do not to cry. I called the county extension office and he said that if there was still foliage on the plant that the suckers would grow and become the new tops. He also recommended a product called Deer Out,which he uses. I ordered the concentrated from their website www.deerout.com(not deer off) You have to spray every 4 days because of the growth.

    Love your blog:)

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  22. Hi Glenda! Welcome and thanks so much for stopping by and commenting!! Thanks for the tips too!

    I feel your pain for sure. It's such a struggle in the south to have a home veggie garden. I envy people who live in areas where it's smooth sailing, but down here it's a constant watch!

    I think I have every bug in existence in my yard, but I'm in a subdivision suburban neighborhood, so thankfully no deer. I have squirrels as usual and 2 raccoons this year - a mama and her baby I'm pretty sure - but hoping to keep them off of my gardens by feeding them and giving them fresh water in the back corner of my yard everyday. My veggie gardens are right up against he house and back door. So far so good {crossing fingers & praying}!

    Good luck! Come back and let me know how your garden turns out.

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  23. This is the perfect site for me! I planted my seedlings in my new mother's day gift (4x10 raised bed built by my husband and 11 yr old son) on Mother's day. This is my first vegetable garden and I am seeing some bug damage and just didnt' know quite what to do about. Your pictures and descriptions are perfect and I am going after those bugs tomorrow. Thank you!

    Vicki

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  24. Hi Vicki! Glad to help - if you have any questions, just give me a holler!! Me, I always get to learn things the hard way LOL, so I might have encountered whatever it is!

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  25. We live in the tropics, and yes, the rules are different. Have fun.

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