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Backyard Buzz - June 2012

June 7th, 2012:
Backyard Buzz

Don't Get Bugged!

June Newsletter

Summer is just around the corner, and warmer climates usually mean pests and insects. This issue tackles pests in the greenhouse and garden. You don't have to use chemicals - we've supplied you with a number of homemade insecticides to use.

Getting Rid of Pests in the Greenhouse

Effective pest management in a greenhouse is especially important because of the warmer, humid environment which is a breeding ground for insects and pests.

Keeping the greenhouse clean and well ventilated during warm seasons will help eliminate any major problems. Early detection and analysis will help to make pest control decisions before the problem becomes unmanageable. Regular inspections of the plants in the greenhouse are recommended. Pay special attention to those plants growing near ventilators, doors and fans.

Serious infestations can be controlled using pesticides. Just remember that the greenhouse is a confined area and proper ventilation in necessary while spraying. It is important to read labels when using any chemicals in order to ensure correct procedures for the best results.

If you choose to control pest organically, hanging sticky yellow traps can help control thrips, whitefly and other flying pests. Parasitic wasps can also be used to fight air-borne pests.

Getting Rid of Pests in the Garden

Your will always find insects in your garden but the key is to be able to identify them, and to separate the good from the bad. Plants need insects for pollination, which is a necessary part of nature, but there are certainly many types that are considered pests.

An earwig for example, feeds on a plant but the damage they cause is minimal and they don't present a huge problem in the big picture. In reality, earwigs eat aphids, snails and some types of larvae so they are sometimes considered a benefit to your garden.

There are many identifiable insects and pests and before using any chemicals in an attempt to control them, assess the situation in order to know how to treat the problem. Although most people have a tendency to resist the use of toxic chemicals, there are circumstances where it may be necessary. It would be environmentally correct to find organic alternatives for pesticide use, however, it does take time and patience to find the correct combination of materials for this purpose.

Fungus gnats for example, need to be detected and controlled before they multiply and their population becomes unfixable. They do serious damage to young plants, new plant seedlings and cuttings.

Japanese beetles feed on the leaves of various different plants eating away at them until the leaves are shredded to nothing. A single beetle doesn't do much damage but they tend to gather together in large numbers and can do much destruction in your garden.

When you suddenly notice bumps infested on plant leaves they are actually called "leaf gall", a defensive response to insect or mites feeding on the foliage. Leaf galls are not as harmful as they appear to be.

Check for slugs during rainy periods. They can be hand picked off the plants. Put them in soapy water to kill them. You can do the same with beetles, larvae and eggs.

One of the easiest ways to control worms is to cover your plants with floating row covers. This eliminates the problem altogether. Otherwise, worms can also be handpicked.

Aphids, tiny pests that suck the juices from the stems and leaves of plants while spreading disease at the same time, can be sprayed off with a garden hose.

Homemade Insecticides

These insecticides are usually safe for fruits, vegetables, flowers, plants, shrubs and trees, however, you should always test a small area first to ensure you are not going to cause any damage to your plants.

Pepper Soap 444

4 cups of water
4 cups of jalapeno peppers
4 cloves of garlic
Place the above items in a blender and mix together . Pour into a container and mix with one teaspoon of vegetable oil. Set for 24 hours and strain through a cheesecloth or strainer. Then place into spray bottle.

Ground Cloves

2 tablespoons of ground cloves
1 quart of water
Mix together and place into a spray bottle.

Crushed Egg Shells

Crushed eggshells are great for getting rid of snails and slugs. Sprinkle generously on top of the soil around garden plants. Great way to recycle your eggshells.

Cooking Oil

1 tablespoon of canola oil
3 or 4 drops of dish soap (never use detergent)
1 quart of water
Did you know that oil can smother insects? Combine and place in to spray bottles.
Always remember to do the undersides of leaves. You will need to reapply after rain.

The Greenhouse Calendar - June

In June, as the weather becomes more hot and humid, keeping a clean greenhouse will help to prevent pests and the spreading of disease. Keep the greenhouse well ventilated and clean the vents thoroughly.

To begin cleaning the interior of the greenhouse, remove all of the containers, pots and shelving. Keep plants in the shade to prevent any plant burn.

Sweep up fallen leaves, dirt or potting soil. If you find damaged or possibly infected leaves, you may want to burn them and not take the chance that they may contaminate your healthy plants.

Get rid of used growing bags and dying plants. Disinfect containers, staging and capillary matting even though it is preferable to replace them every year. You can also hose down the interior of the greenhouse.

Before the interior cleaning task is complete, check that all the ventilation panels and windows are in working order and that the lighting and irrigations systems are in operation. Clean the exterior of the greenhouse with a bit of soap and warm water.

Once your greenhouse is cleaned inside and out, return the plants and organize the indoor structure. Make sure that the plants are weeded before returning them to the greenhouse. If plants such as tomatoes and melons need support, put canes around them and tie budding shoots. Some plants may require pruning or pinching.

Water regularly so that soil and composts don't dry out. To prevent scorching during the hot months, avoid watering plants in the middle of the day when the heat is the strongest. For plants that need more humidity to thrive, splash the floor with water or use a mist sprayer.

Be aware of common pests that are found during the warm humid months like aphids, mealy bugs and red spiders. Be cautious about diseases which include mildew and botrytis and take care of them immediately.

If you have a tip for treating pests and insects organically, please pass it on. We'll include it in our next newsletter.

Happy Bug-Free Gardening,

Shelley Awad
Backyard Greenhouses

Written By: Shelley Awad
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