Monthly Archives: October 2014

Natural Insect and Disease Control: Apple Maggot.

apple_maggot_flyAlso known as apple fruit fly, the adult apple maggot fly is similar to the house fly and lays eggs inside the flesh of the apples around late July. They usually go unnoticed until you bite into an apple. The larvae overwinter in dropped fruit, so discarding and cleaning up fruit from the ground in the fall is a good idea.

You can make a trap to catch the flies before they lay their eggs. Mix one part molasses to nine parts water and add some yeast to encourage fermentation. Pour the beer-smelling liquid into small, plastic containers. Once fermentation subsides, hang the containers from your apple trees.

Another remedy; The Cooperative Extension of New Hampshire uses a bait made of 2 tsp ammonia and 1/4 tsp soap powder mixed in a quart of water. Distribute to smaller containers and hang them on the sunny side of the trees. Renew the bait if necessary.

See our main gardening page, Garden Circkles, for much more information than what is posted on this blog, including full articles on greenhouse growing, sustainable and organic tips, beneficial bugs, the latest techniques such as aquaponics and vertical growing and much more.

Companion Planting: Chamomile and Identifying Two Types.

Plants that assist each other to grow well, repel insects or even other plants when grown next to each other is called companion planting and can be a sustainable and eco-friendly way to improve and protect your garden against unwanted pests and disease.

chamomile german vs romanChamomile:

There are two types of chamomile: German or wild chamomile can be distinguished from the Roman chamomile by the hollow bottom of its blossom. An excellent companion plant to cabbages and onions, chamomile with improve the growth of both.

Wheat grown with small amounts of chamomile will grow heavier and fuller ears.

Chamomile flowers can be used in a dog’s bed against fleas. Put the flowers in the stuffing of the bed. The blossoms soaked in water can be used as a spray to treat plant diseases like damping off in greenhouses and cold frames.

Photo: German chamomile is on the left, Roman on the right. German also has a more upright stem with many flowers on a multi-branched stem. Roman has a vining habit with only one flower at the end of a stem.

See our main gardening page, Garden Circkles, for much more information than what is posted on this blog, including full articles on greenhouse growing, sustainable and organic tips, beneficial bugs, the latest techniques such as aquaponics and vertical growing and much more.

Beneficial Bugs: Bumble Bee.

BumblebeeHiveOrder: Hymenoptera. Family: Apidae

Average Size: 1/4 inch to 1 1/4 inch.

Of course we know bumble bees to be good pollinators, so we want to keep them around our garden and yard for that reason, but did you know that they have longer tongues than honey bees so they are able to pollinate clover and alfalfa? Honey bees tend to like a more flat, open blossom, while bumble bees are able to pollinate the small, tubular type blossoms better. There are several varieties of bumble bees that come in many different sizes.

Bumble bees are used in greenhouses to pollinate melons and tomatoes. Bumble bees do not form a lasting colony like the honey bee. Their colonies are annual and only the fertilized queen bumble bee survives the winter. She emerges in the spring to start a new colony. Bumble bees also do not build a hive and store honey like honey bees, but make a nest in the ground.

Photo: A bumble hive in the ground.

See our main gardening page, Garden Circkles, for much more information than what is posted on this blog, including full articles on greenhouse growing, sustainable and organic tips, beneficial bugs, the latest techniques such as aquaponics and vertical growing and much more.

Plants that add Lime (Calcium) to your Soil Naturally.

Companion Planting:

Plants that assist each other to grow well, repel insects or even other plants when grown next to each other is called companion planting and can be a sustainable and eco-friendly way to improve and protect your garden against unwanted pests and disease.

Plants that add Lime (Calcium) to your Soil Naturally:

buckwheatThere’s nothing more nutritious or beautiful than a field full of Buckwheat. A honey bee’s favorite flower as well.

Buckwheat stores calcium, so when it’s composted or tilled under as a green manure it will add lime to your soil.
Lupine has very deep roots so it reaches the deep calcium in the soil. They do well in poor, gravelly areas so planting them there will help enrich the soil over time.
Melon leaves are rich in lime, so add them to your compost pile when the plants are done for the season.

Peas, beans, cabbages and turnips do well in soil containing lime.

See our main gardening page, Garden Circkles, for much more information than what is posted on this blog, including full articles on greenhouse growing, sustainable and organic tips, beneficial bugs, the latest techniques such as aquaponics and vertical growing and much more.

Control Armyworms.

fall-armywormArmyworms are usually controlled by birds, skunks, tachnid flies and toads, but you may have noticed that every so many years, they are overly abundant. This phenomenon seems to go in cycles. When this happens, they can do serious damage to corn crops, fruit trees and certain vegetables.

A well-known remedy for armyworm infestations on large crops that has been used by the old-timers for years is to dig a trench or ditch around the crop and keep the soil in it loose and dry if possible. The worms will be trapped in it and you can bury them or burn them.

Another old-time practice for armyworms is to plant alternate rows of sunflowers. Researchers in Cuba have confirmed that this method is effective.

See our main gardening page, Garden Circkles, for much more information than what is posted on this blog, including full articles on greenhouse growing, sustainable and organic tips, beneficial bugs, the latest techniques such as aquaponics and vertical growing and much more.

Beneficial Bugs: Whitefly Predatory Beetle.

whitefly_beetleOrder: Coleoptera. Family: Coccinellidae

Average Size: 1/16 inch.

Looking very much like a ladybug only shiny black, and the males have a brown head. Their favorite prey is the sweet potato whitefly and if those are scarce, they will turn to eating spider mites. The adults can eat several hundred whiteflies in a single day, and the larvae can eat about a thousand whitefly eggs before pupating.

You will find these little beneficials anywhere there are a lot of whiteflies, so be careful what you spray your plants with if you are spraying to rid them of whiteflies. If you wait a few days, these beetles may just do the job for you.

See our main gardening page, Garden Circkles, for much more information than what is posted on this blog, including full articles on greenhouse growing, sustainable and organic tips, beneficial bugs, the latest techniques such as aquaponics and vertical growing and much more.

Natural Insect and Disease Control: Weeds in Your Lawn.

green_lawnLow soil fertility is the number one reason weeds will take over a lawn, so using a good organic compost distributed over your lawn every year will help a great deal. Weeds do not typically like fertile soils and thrive more in exhausted soils with little organic matter.

Also weed seeds tend to lose their viability sooner in bacteria-rich soil than in one poor in bacterial life, ” says Rodale Institute.

Do not cut your grass any shorter than 2 inches tall or a good rule of thumb is do not cut off more than 1/3 of the green leaf or blade of the grass. Cutting grass too short will not only encourage weeds to get established, it will hamper the growth of the grass. Keeping your grass a bit longer may mean having to mow it a bit more often, but the shade provided by the longer grass will cut down on watering, weeding and brown patches thus eliminating lawn care in the long run.

See our main gardening page, Garden Circkles, for much more information than what is posted on this blog, including full articles on greenhouse growing, sustainable and organic tips, beneficial bugs, the latest techniques such as aquaponics and vertical growing and much more.

 

Companion Planting: Calendula or Marigolds.

Plants that assist each other to grow well, repel insects or even other plants when grown next to each other is called companion planting and can be a sustainable and eco-friendly way to improve and protect your garden against unwanted pests and disease.

Public domain image, royalty free stock photo from www.public-domain-image.comCalendula or Marigolds:

Very beneficial when planted with potatoes, strawberries, roses and many bulbs to discourage nematodes. Marigolds produce a chemical that they release into the soil which kills nematodes. In order to be effective, marigolds should be planted for a long enough period of time in one spot since it takes a while for them to produce this chemical. Grow them all season in an area where you intend to plant one of the plants listed above. You may not notice immediate results after the first year, but you should notice a dramatic reduction in nematodes in subsequent years. The effects of marigold planting will last 2-3 years after they are no longer growing in that spot.

Marigolds planted with beans will protect the beans against Mexican bean beetles.

See our main gardening page, Garden Circkles, for much more information than what is posted on this blog, including full articles on greenhouse growing, sustainable and organic tips, beneficial bugs, the latest techniques such as aquaponics and vertical growing and much more.

Beneficial Insects: Tiger Beetle.

tiger_beetleOrder: Coleoptera. Family: Cicindelidae

Average Size: 1/2 to 3/4 inch.

Varying in color from metallic blue to a bronze color, green or purple, tiger beetles can run pretty fast with their long legs. Their prey of choice is ants, smaller beetles, grasshoppers and aphids. Because they run so quickly, you will probably not be able to spot one in the garden or elsewhere.

Tiger beetles are attracted to lights and warmth. They will sun themselves along roads, the edges of well-warn pathways and bare patches of soil or sand.

The larvae are shaped like an “S” and have a humped back and strong hooks on their abdomens that allow them to anchor themselves in the soil to seize prey which they drag back to their burrow to eat.

See our main gardening page, Garden Circkles, for much more information than what is posted on this blog, including full articles on greenhouse growing, sustainable and organic tips, beneficial bugs, the latest techniques such as aquaponics and vertical growing and much more.

Beneficial Insects: Rove Beetles.

rove_beetleOrder: Coleoptera. Family: Staphylindae
Average Size: 1/16 to 3/4 inch.

Very similar to earwigs, but the Rove beetle has pinchers in the front jaws where earwigs have their pinchers as their tails.

Usually black or brown in color, rove beetles eat insects, where earwigs eat plants. Rove beetle larvae dine on aphids, fly eggs, maggots, mites, nematodes and springtails.

Rove beetles are usually found under refuse such as leaves, grass or bark and can be found on fungi or flowers and are common in compost piles. To keep them around, maintain a permanent bed of mulch or a stone path they can hide in.

See our main gardening page, Garden Circkles, for much more information than what is posted on this blog, including full articles on greenhouse growing, sustainable and organic tips, beneficial bugs, the latest techniques such as aquaponics and vertical growing and much more.