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Hello Guest!
Welcome to the official Square Foot Gardening Forum.
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Pest Prevention

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Post  ralitaco 3/19/2011, 10:12 pm

Ok, last year, in my first attempt at an SFG, I was overrun with all sorts of bugs: hornworms, cut worms, fireants, etc. (Some of you may remember my post about my introduction to the hornworm in the rain and me in my yellow poncho) Anyway, I am in zone 7B (I think: zip 28443) and I haven't had time to plant anything yet; although, I still have 1 rosemary plant and 1 basil or oregano (can't remember what I planted where last year).
Here is my question: Can I treat the MM before planting with sevin dust to prevent pests?
I was thinking that it would kill off anything in the MM giving me a jump on pest control without harming the beneficial insects when the blossoms arrive. Then as the plants blossom, I could retreat as needed.
Also, I am planning to build a raised bed and transfer the MM from one of my ground boxes so I thought of mixing in some pesticide as I go.
Thanks for the insight,
Jim
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Post  walshevak 3/20/2011, 5:06 am

Jim,
If you are in Hampstead near Wilmington, I believe you are in are in zone 8A. In fact one of the nurseries in Wilmington is named Zone Eight.

I am not an organic gardener and have used Sevin on my veggie gardens for years, but I don't think treating the MM is the answer unless it is full of grubs. Others who know more will have to jump in. Having said this, I am going to try a few other attacks this year, BT and Neem, savin the Sevin for last resort. I'm also going to cover with a bug net until blossoming time hoping to prevent the dreaded cabbage moth and squash borer moth from landing as late as i can.

I garden in both Wilmington (son's house) and Elizabeth City and just found the Pender Nursery on Hiway 17 during a recent trip between the two. Imagine, they have vermiculite. Laughing

Kay
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walshevak

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Post  walshevak 3/20/2011, 6:53 am

I just ran the zip codes for our zone and it says 7b, but all the nurseries in Wilmington say we are in 8a. Go figger!!! I've operated for years based on east of Hiway 17 is zone 8.


Kay
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walshevak

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Post  dizzygardener 3/20/2011, 8:40 am

walshevak,

Our Zones in NC have changed. About twenty years ago we were all bumped up a zone. I think a lot of the Zone calculators are operating off of old information. I'm 6b, but some of the planners told me I'm 6a.

Just to make things even more interesting, my extension agent told our master gardener class that they are thinking of changing our zones again. The global warming effect is once again shortening our winters. Apparently, in a couple years we will be 7a instead of 6b. Some of those zone calculators are already telling me that we are 7a.

Anyway, I said all that to say, go by what the local folks tell you over what you can find online. Folks who live in it are better equipped to tell you when your frost dates are then an online calculator that is using information that is God knows how old!
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Post  dizzygardener 3/20/2011, 8:59 am

Ralitaco,

I try to follow organic gardening protocols as much as I can, so I'd never suggest that you treat your soil (or anything else) with Sevin unless you have no other choice. Sevin kills bees. We need bees!

Hornworms and cut worms are probably not in your soil yet. Hornworms are the larvae of Hawk moths. The Moths have to lay their eggs first. Same goes with cutworms (different flying insect though). The best prevention for those is to make sure the bugs can't lay their eggs on your crop. I'd definitely protect your plants with crop covers until they start to flower.

If you still end up with a few you can't hand pick, I'd suggest that you use BT (Bacillus thuringiensis). Dipel dust is probably the easiest BT to find. It worms great for many kinds of caterpillars and worms.

Other organic methods you can use are Neem oil (as mentioned before) as well as DE (Diatomaceous Earth).

You could also pre-treat your soil with beneficial nematodes if you think you've already got a lot of grubs in our MM, but I'm not sure if that is necessary.

I'm not sure what to tell you about the fire ants. Here is an article from the University of Texas that sounds promising: http://bexar-tx.tamu.edu/HomeHort/F1Column/2004Articles/May2.htm

NOTE: That article recommends Sinosad, which is also organic (kinda). Sinosad is also effective on hornworms. BUT, Sinosad is harmful to bees, so I'd avoid using it on the plants or near flowers if I could. The same is true for Pyrethrins. I'd probably try treating the mounds with DE and one of the oils that is recommended before I moved on to the chemicals.

Best of luck to you, and I hope this was helpful.


Last edited by dizzygardener on 3/20/2011, 9:14 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Wanted to Clarify/emphasize the harmful effects of Sinosad and pyrethrins.)
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Post  FarmerValerie 3/20/2011, 10:08 am

DE is good, but will kill bees too. I did most of my bug killing research at Gardens Alive (gardensalive.com) they have tons of info, and will gladly answer any questions you have about their products even if you don't purchase them. I wanted to spray neematodes on the soil this year before planting, but due to hubby's bee purchases that was out.

I did get some Pyola, mainly for squash bugs (we have already seen a couple) but will have to be careful when spraying that too, as if it gets on the blossoms it too could kill bees. I also cannot use that product when it is above 90 degrees, come on I'm in TX.

Row covers seem to be the best idea out there, then hand picking, and spraying with dishwashing soap (1Tbsp to 1 qt water), and if you have worms on your tomatoes, consider setting out bird seed to draw the birds in. Yes, you may have a few that get your tomatoes, but if there is seed and worms, they will go for those first. I got to see a bird dance around in a tomato plant last year for 5 minutes, then fly off with a long green worm in his mouth. I will be attacting birds this year. Also look into which plants attract good bugs, those will help keep the bad bugs down.
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Post  dizzygardener 3/20/2011, 11:26 am

Valarie,

You are absolutely right about DE and bees, but when DE is used in ground applications (like directly on fire ant mounds) as opposed to foliage applications its effect on bees is greatly diminished.

We definitely have to be careful about our bees. Their populations are declining so fast.

DE is not nearly as detrimental to bees as Sevin. Bees treat Sevin like pollen and take it back to the hive thus killing bee larvae before they even hatch. Nasty nasty stuff. I refuse to use it.

I agree, whenever possible hand picking and soap is a much better solution than using chemicals (organic or inorganic). With chemicals there will always be unintended consequences.
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Post  FarmerValerie 3/20/2011, 12:09 pm

I did not realize you could use DE for ants, I thought since they were "hard shelled bodied" it would not work. We have not had fire ants here in over a year, in my yard at least, just those little ants, and cinnamon has been working fine. We did have problems a while back though, we are surrounded by pastures on three sides, one side is across the road, but they still travel. The south and west sides do not treat for anything, not sure about accross the road. So for the first couple of years we first lined the property with fire and stuff, usually andro, then treated individual mounds.

I do have one small mound of ants on the corner of one of my 4x4's and have treated with cinnamon twice, if that does not work, I may use DE, just stir and dust. There is nothing in or near that box that would draw hubbys bees there yet, so we should be okay. I do need to treat the dogs area, which is far enough away, but I am hoping to get the tiller fixed, so I can till it up, spread, and retill to mix in, then one more spread. We coated thier area and them last year and had almost no fleas, and still don't. The dogs should appreciate the tilled soil, as they till it up themselves to lay in cool, fresh dirt all the time.......
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Post  dizzygardener 3/20/2011, 8:00 pm

DE is an irritant. On its own it will not kill the fire ants, but it will make them move their mound, which could cause even more problems because that one mound could split off into several.

You have to mix DE with something else like orange oil in order for it to be effective.

DE does out right kill some ants. I can't recall which ones.
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Post  ralitaco 3/20/2011, 10:46 pm

Thank you all for your answers.
Just so you know, I am not looking to do an organic garden, but I don't want to wipe out the bees either. Having said that, last year, I didn't do anything as prevention and once I got worms in the garden, they decimated it. I tried some enviroment friendly pesticides, but they didn't do much. (Somewhere there are pics of what was left of my broccoli) That was really a blow to my gardening experience.
Also, I want to mention that I am planning on doing transplants again this year. I don't know if that makes a difference on when to start treatment for pests. So I guees I am still looking for the best way to prevent the pests. I will look into the bug screen, but I really want to protect my investment from all angles.
If the worms are the result of eggs, is there anything, including sevin, that will prevent them from hatching? I don't want to wait until the worms are already doing damage before I treat them.
Jim
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