Thursday, April 30, 2009

Top 10 Most Wanted

Every garden has its share of pests and diseases. Some are minor inconveniences while others make us want to take a blow torch to them (quite literally as I’ve seen people use a blow torch to get rid of weeds). Since I try to garden organically and maintain the balance of nature, a few bugs and minor diseases are part of having a perfectly imperfect garden. But, there are some pests that will drive even the most docile gardener to reach for their arsenal of organic methods of elimination.

So I’m wondering, what pests or garden diseases make you go “Caddyshack?” What pests are on your 10 Most Wanted List? Here’s mine (caution gross pics up ahead…. so if you can’t take it close one eye or squint!):

#10 Leaf Miner

These guys love my spinach. At the rate they were going last year I thought they were gonna give Popeye a run for his money. I used Safer and Neem to manage these.

#9 Powdery Mildew

This common plant disease is not usually a fatal problem, but it was enough to practically take my peonies down to the ground last summer – thankfully AFTER they bloomed (and this year they came back up so I think they are OK). I pulled out the Safer Fungicide to combat this one.

#8 Japanese Beetles

My poor roses…. I’ve only got 3 rose bushes, but they always seem to have problems and Japanese Beetles was one of them. Thankfully they weren’t a huge problem and hand picking seemed to control them just fine. As a side note, when I was child these were a huge problem in my Dad’s garden. He hated them so much that he used to put kerosene in a mason jar, hand pick the beetles, and then put them in the kerosene to watch them go caput! And, all this from one of the most docile guys you could EVER want to meet.

#7 Rose Slug

I often have mistaken rose slug damage for that of the Japanese beeetle. A rose slug is the larvae from a saw fly. It takes the ninja approach and chomps on the underside of the leaves until they are skeletonized. They are very small, green, and difficult to see. Safer or Neem won’t kill them, but BT and Spinosa works well.

#6 Common Slug or Snail

All I can say is YUCK!! Little dishes of beer really worked for me, but disposing of them almost made me lose my breakfast each morning.

#5 Tomato Fruit Worm

The tomato fruit worm can be more of a problem then the dreaded Tomato Horn Worm. I had them last year and mistook the damage for birds. But, thankfully I caught it very early and used Spinosa (BT should work too), which took care of it.

#4 Cabbage Leaf Loopers

I only plant about 6 broccoli plants so at first I hand picked the loopers off. But, then when the nightly routine of picking and squishing leaf loopers became more than a hassle than it was worth, we sprayed with Spinosa which really worked well. Again you could use BT for this, but Spinosa lasts longer and you don’t have to spray as much.

#3 Squash Vine Borer

I only had a few weeks of squash and zucchini before the evil vine borers killed all my plants. I was the only person around with a garden who was accepting summer squash as gifts. I tried slitting the stems open and pulling the borers out --- I know ewww…. I even buried the stems in the ground in hopes that it would reroot, but nothing could save them. I’ve heard that injecting the stems with BT or Spinosa works or even the spraying the stems before the larvae imbeds itself in there. I’ve got a few things up my sleeve I’m going to try this year.

#2 Lily Beetle

Such a deceptive little bug…. So colorful and beautiful to look at, but incredibly destructive. The larvae is disgusting. It look likes little piles of poop on the stems. These beetles have come from the north and have invaded just about all parts of New England. So much so that sales of Asiatic Lilies have plummeted in the Boston area. The lily beetle is very selective in their feeding so they won’t touch anything but Asiatic Lilies. Nothing much works to eliminate them, but Spinosa controls them somewhat. I have some beautiful Asiatic lilies planted in my front perennial bed, but I’m actually going to pull them up in a few weeks and replace them with Day Liles. I know it seems like a shame, but trust me it’s a smart choice. To read up on these beetles, check this out:

And…. The Number One Most Wanted is……

Scroll down……

Keep scrolling….

More scrolling…..

#1 The Chipmunk

Why you say??? Such a cute little fella… Well we had only 3 measly strawberries out of 12 plants last year – ‘nuff said! I hope he’s happy!


Jan (Thanks For 2 Day) said...

Sorry you're dealing with all of these guys. I haven't had the mildew on peonies 'yet' but am keeping 'Safer' in mind, just in case;-) I do get slugs and but didn't even notice any last yr. Japanese Beetles I've had in the past, but I have no roses...only roses that 'real' gardeners don't classify as roses (carpet/knockouts!). Also, we don't have chipmunks here. I think they're adorable...but understand their annoyance! Just look at the very bottom of my page and see who the culprit is in MY garden:-)

Ellie Mae's Cottage said...

Hi Jan, I did have my share of pests last summer -- I guess it was a good learning experience! ... I definitely learned the hard way. So funny about the squirrel! LOL LOL

tina said...

Hi Jackie, This was a very helpful post to me. I normally do like you and handpick the critters until it is too much. On my list would be the slugs and snails (salt), squash vine borers (seven), the cabbage loopers (I need to look for that spinosa). The Japanese beetles (I handpick and tolerate them), and then the sawfly larve and voles. The sawfly nearly decimated my birch tree TWO times last summer. I had to spray finally.

Funny you mention chipmunks. My cat can't kill them fast enough. I found the remains of one the other day in the front yard, yet while looking out front today, there is one happy as can be drinking from a water basin I have on the ground and scurrying around. I wondered where the heck was the cat. Probably fat and happy still from the last one! I don't like the chipmunks because of the damage they do to buildings by burrowing. The voles now, they simply eat all plants from the roots up. What a pain. But they are cute I guess.

Daphne said...

Chipmunks are nasty little things. I quit growing strawberries because of them. I did find a solution to them stealing my tomatoes last year. I put bird netting around the bottom foot of the cages. The chipmunks hate bird netting. They get tangled in it. After that no more stolen tomatoes. Thank goodness. Maybe I'll try strawberries again some year.

Gail said...

Jackie...that is a perfect shot of the chipmunk! Tell me you didn't photoshop those great cheeks! Before the squirrels decided to become pains in the bottom these were my number 2 guys...Number one on my list of bad boys is Phlox Bug (Lopidea davisi)! it's a sucking true bug that likes phlox...not sure how it arrived here..I suspect a new phlox I brought in a few years ago. gail