Finding Solutions for Pests

| January 27, 2014 | 1 Reply

Finding solutions for pests is the life-long quest of an organic gardener or farmer. Late Bloomer Lesson (LBL): Be Persistent! Just because you found a solution, does not mean you found the solution.

Late yesterday afternoon, I planted a variety of organic seed potatoes in the repurposed wood bins, as I had done last spring.

Finding Solutions for Pests-potatoes

Seed potatoes set and ready to cover

I finished just before dark. They were perfect, a work of art. (Plant low and mound up as the green emerges.)

Finding Solutions for Pests-bin

Bin with freshly planted seed potatoes

I looked out this morning, and either a raccoon or cat had been digging in both bins, for potatoes, or to defecate, I didn’t know which.

Finding solutions for Pests-disrupted bins

Disrupted potato bins

After a mild expletive, or two, I put on rubber gloves expecting to fish out feces, but, it appeared the disruption was merely curiosity. My temporary solution, a piece of fencing and a heavy brick to hold it down. I should have done this last night!

Finding Solutions for Pests-wire

Wire fence covering potato bins

As I reported in “Screening Winter Greens”, I used red voile bought at a fabric store to cover my cool season crops. The netting helped against cabbage worm, as you can see the leaves are not eaten in this bunch of broccoli and cauliflower. To which I conclude, the cabbage moth has not been able to lay eggs on the brassicas. √

Finding Solutions for Pests-voile

Broccoli and cauliflower plants covered in red voile

However, that doesn’t mean aphids (watch “Awful Aphids”) have not found their way to the emerging heads. I discovered one cauliflower head covered with aphids. It had to be discarded. This one still looks good. LBL: Be Observant. Just because you have your brassicas covered in netting doesn’t mean there aren’t aphids multiplying in the leaves. You have to get down on your hands and knees and inspect your plants.

Finding solutions for Pests-cauliflower

Veronica F1 hybrid cauliflower head mid-development

How did they get there? In Episode 8 of “Late Bloomer,” “Growing Purple Cabbage,” my neighbor C.L. explained that aphids are food for the ants. However, it’s really the waste product called honeydew that the ants crave. The symbiotic relationship some ants have with aphids is fascinating. Read more here. Ever wonder why there are so many aphids? I just read this mind-blower: “In optimal environmental conditions and lacking any predators, parasites, or disease, a single aphid could produce 600 billion descendants in one season.” Learn more here. It’s no wonder gardeners never get ahead of aphids.

Finding Solutions for Pests-aphids

Aphids on broccoli leaves

Results on kale and broccoli in other areas of the garden have been mixed. This Lacinato Kale plant has nearly been destroyed. I suspect it’s slugs. I will reapply slug and snail granules in hopes I can get through the winter season.

Finding solutions for Pests-damaged kale

Pest damage to Lacinato Kale plant

This one, two feet away, is in good shape. Most of these leaves will be juiced.

Finding Solutions for Pests-kale

Lacinato Kale plant undamaged by pests

I planted this tray, about 60, Marigold seedlings around the garden a few days ago. I was anxious to reuse the seed tray, so I rushed getting these tender seedlings in the ground.

What Happened to Winter-marigolds

Tray of Sparky MIx Marigolds

I forgot that cutworm eats just about anything, and noticed a couple of days later there were 10-15 just missing. You couldn’t even find the remains.  “Cutworms are not worms, they are moth larvae that hide under litter or soil during the day, coming out in the dark to feed on plants. A larva typically attacks the first part of the plant it encounters, namely the stem, often of a seedling, and consequently cuts it down; hence the name cutworm.” – Wikipedia

Finding Solutions for Pests-cutworm


So I got out my DE (Diatomaceous Earth) powder and blasted around each remaining plant. I should have done this when I planted! This powder will keep most pests, i.e., cutworm, sow bugs, earwigs at a distance, but, you have to reapply it after watering. Late Bloomer Lesson: Be Vigilant!

Finding Solutions for Pests-marigold

Marigold Seedling with DE Powder

We all have to learn lessons the hard way, but there are some short-cuts and, with my LBL’s, I’d like to think I’m saving some of you a little time and frustration! Pest management is a challenge – especially if you have deer, gophers, moles and rabbits, which I haven’t had to deal with – but, the reward of watching plants grow far outweighs the hassle!

I hope this post is helpful. Your comments are welcome! Please share “Late Bloomer” with friends and download my FREE ebook, “10 Steps to a Great, First Garden.” Thanks for reading, and happy gardening!












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Category: Pest Management, Pests

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  1. lisa lynn says:

    Thanks for visiting me Kaye! Love your blog 🙂 Following you on Facebook and such!

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