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Time to battle bugs and weeds
As the season moves forward, we are getting hit with not only rain and weeds. Insects are moving in as well.
As a natural and organic gardener, I am constantly battling those pesky weeds and now diseases. It is important to know what you are fighting in your garden by doing some investigating.
I do a lot of traveling in the area and look at so many yards. I noticed red thread in many lawns. Some spittle bugs are feeding, tent caterpillars are around and aphids are eating like crazy. Weeds seem to grow overnight and once weeded are there again. How can we fight, you say?
Instead of just putting chemicals down which kills not only the target pest but the good ones as well, do some investigating.
The red thread in the lawn tells me that is there is high moisture sitting on the soil surface for long periods of time.
It is very important to fix the issue with your soil. Thatching and aerating at the right times, and feeding the soil, will be a good start.
On some lawns I thatched earlier, I top dressed the lawns with fish compost and there is a nice green carpet. Fixing your drainage issue is the key. Start now raising the soil fertility and top dress annually. Spring time means bugs are starting their annual breeding cycle. They eat your prized plants to make offspring.
Investigate the plant. See what bug is doing the damage. I like to carry a lens. There are many available and come in many different magnifications.
Use integrated pest management and its three steps: cultural, by taking all means to keep your garden clean and healthy; physical, using the right tools like traps, pruning and any other method to target the pest or disease; and biological control -- the use of beneficial insects to eat the target pests.
Put on your "CSI hat" and find the problem. Chemicals should be the last thing to use. If you take the right steps you won’t have to use them at all. I promise!
Reader question: Q. I have aphids on my camellia bush. What do I do?
A. Good question. In the IPM program you used the first step already. You found the culprit. Now the next step is to use some of the physical means. Get a water hose and spray off the bush. Prune to open the plant up keeping in mind how the plant grows. The third step is to introduce the biological control by introducing lady beetles. They love to eat the aphids. Try those three steps and the use of chemicals will be eliminated.
Happy Gardening,Gardener Joe