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Old 04-28-2012, 11:51 AM   #1
simplemama
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Default Pest Control

I have a little experience gardening but have always used chemical pesticides like sevin dust. This year we are trying to aviod using the chemical pesticides and fertilizers. We have started a compost bin for next year and I am planning to sow marigold seeds around the perimeter of our garden after it is all planted. I still have a few concerns about pests. First of all I have noticed that someone has been nibbling on our lettuce, possibly a caterpillar. Second, my mom has told me that if I don't use sevin dust on our broccoli that I could bite into it and find a worm According to my lovely mother there would be no way for me to know that there is a worm in the broccoli until that bite I'm also a little concerned about the cabbage...when I have grown it in the past I have always used the sevin dust to keep worms out of it. I have heard a little talk here about using DE, but I don't really know if it will work for these issues. I really don't know anything about it at all. Thanks in advance for any insight you can offer
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Old 04-28-2012, 12:03 PM   #2
treehugginmama
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Default Re: Pest Control

EWWW on the broccoli. I was always told if you soak it the worms with come out. I hope that's true because I would never want to bite into one. LOL

We use DE. Food grade and sprinkle it all over our yard and plants. Last year I sprayed BT for the first time. It worked great. No hornwoms and that was what I was trying to avoid.

This year we are trying nematodes for the first time to help with all the other worms, grubs, slugs and bugs. I hear great things about them.
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Old 04-28-2012, 12:09 PM   #3
simplemama
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Default Re: Pest Control

Forgive my ignorance but I don't know what BT is or what nematodes are I will def be doing an internet search!

ETA: Ahhh lovely internet... okay now I'm not feeling so ignorant. Thanks again for the info

Last edited by simplemama; 04-28-2012 at 12:14 PM.
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Old 04-29-2012, 12:24 PM   #4
Macky
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Default Re: Pest Control

BT is pest-specific, so when you go to buy it, make sure it says cabbage worms on the label. You can buy other forms of BT for other pests, so read the label carefully.

Whatever you do, NEVER use rotenone for pest control, even though it IS legitimately organic (it's the dried and ground root of a tropical plant). Rotenone is one of those natural poisons that is WORSE than its synthetic counterparts. Don't ever use it.

Yes, it's true about the worms on broccoli – you really can't find them all when you're washing it. They're exactly the same shade of green and they hide up in the florets, too. The only way to grow clean broccoli is to use a floating cover, BT or chemicals.

I've got a handy dandy spray bottle that can spray upside down, which makes spraying the undersides of the leaves a LOT easier.

Read the BT label carefully. You can't keep mixed solution around; only mix what you can use immediately. Spray everything in the cabbage family – broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage (of course), etc.

We don't use DE here because we don't have any of the pests that it's effective against. Cabbage worm eggs are laid directly on the undersides of the leaves and the worms never touch the ground; since DE wouldn't stick to the leaves (I assume) and the worms never touch the ground, I don't imagine it's effective against cabbage worms specifically.
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Old 04-30-2012, 07:29 AM   #5
simplemama
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Default Re: Pest Control

Macky- Thanks so much I'm completely lost in all this.

Thanks for the info about the rotenone, seems like the term organic can be rather misleading.

Where would I find a handy spray bottle like the one you have?

How often would I need to apply the cabbage worm BT? Is it just once, as needed or what...

And what about lettuce and other crops? I'm going to be planting tomatoes, peppers, green beans, cucumbers, maybe some melons or squash...

Thanks again for your help
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Old 04-30-2012, 08:22 PM   #6
Macky
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Default Re: Pest Control

I got the upside-down spray bottle at Lee Valley, but I'm sure others sell them, too.

You apply the BT after every rain; can't remember frequency if you're not dealing with at least weekly rain (the bottle will tell you). We water once a week or so (as needed) when it doesn't rain, so that translates to once-a-week BT spraying for us, roughly. If it's actively raining for a few days in a row, I wait until the rain is done. I rarely see active moths when it's off-and-on raining.

The BT comes as a concentrate that you mix with water. The little bottle will last you many seasons, at least it does for me and I'm spraying 50 to 60 plants very thoroughly.

This year I'm going to do row cover and BT side by side and see which is less hassle. One might think "row cover, of course" but we have so many weeds out here that I have to remove covers and cloches too often for my liking. We'll see.

ETA because I forgot the last question. Cabbage moths don't bother the other crops you mentioned. They have their own pests, which differ due to location and climate. We don't have any pests that bother tomatoes here; hornworms would be your enemy if you live where they are. I think Heather mentioned that she's used BT for them. I have no idea if it's the same BT as for cabbage worms or a different one; check the label in the store. I get masses of flea beetles whenever I plant lettuce in my garden; I use nasturtiums as a trap crop – the only companion planting scheme that has undeniably worked for me. The flea beetles prefer the nasturtiums (where you can kill them off if you like) and leave the lettuce alone very nearly completely. We have no pests here that bother any of the other crops you listed. In affected areas, you'll have cucumber beetles going after cucumbers and squash borers going after melons and squash. I can't offer experienced advice against them, though.
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Last edited by Macky; 04-30-2012 at 08:31 PM.
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