Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Pest Control

As many of you have probably noticed, we have a couple of pests in the garden. The number one complaint so far is mosquitoes- which are tremendously bad for the area. We're doing a number of things to get rid of them. Matt has put up a bat house- this should start attracting bats next season, which will eat the mosquitoes. I've planted pennyroyal in various places around the garden. The herb is a strong bug repellent and will hopefully keep mosquitoes away from us.

One of the most obvious things in the garden- that I've gotten a lot of questions about- is all the holes in the leaves. These are caused by a common pest, the cabbage worm. It feeds on vegetable leaves, and as you can see, many of our plants are affected. The pest is a white moth that flies above our crops, periodically laying eggs on the plants. The larvae hatch and gnaw holes in our leaves. I'm using a couple of methods to control them. For starters, I planted chamomile everywhere. The flower is aromatic, which means it will attract a non-stinging wasp that lays its eggs in the larvae. While I wait for those to grow, I'll sprinkle corn meal on the affected plants- larvae that eat it will bloat and die.

Another problem is visible on the tomato plants. Something is causing the tomatoes to go from looking like this :

To this :
This is not caused by a mold or insect, but instead by a mineral deficiency in the soil. Calcium is not being properly delivered to the fruit. This could be caused by a couple of things- it could be that there is simply not enough calcium in the soil or that there is a pH imbalance inhibiting delivery. An ideal range for tomatoes is 6.5. When I tested the pH of our soil it came out to be 7.0, so the problem isn't its acidity. I sprinkled a minimal amount of garden lime around each plant to try to improve the soil's calcium content. I've also mulched around the tomato plants, as the problem can be caused by uneven water supply. The mulch will help keep the roots constantly damp.

These are the things that are plaguing the garden. We also had our first rabbit attack yesterday- they stripped two collard plants. Hopefully, they won't come back, otherwise we might have to put up a fence.

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