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What's the first thing you're planting this spring?
 
Battling the Bagrada Bug the Organic Way Print E-mail
Written by Ann Shepphird   

Bagrada Bug up closeI recently received this e-mail from Wendy Pietrzak, who oversees the community gardens in Santa Monica, and thought I would pass it along in case anyone else is dealing with the dreaded badraga bug (aka the painted or harlequin bug), which has been attacking cabbage crops in California. Photo is from Mike Lewis of the UC Riverside Center for Invasive Species :

Several of our diligent Main Street gardeners shared some information on a bug that seems to be infesting kale and other lettuce plants/seedlings in the community gardens and I want to share it with you also. It has been identified as the Bagrada Bug. Here are two links that have more information on the bug:

http://cisr.ucr.edu/bagrada_bug.html

http://www.infonet-biovision.org/print/ct/103/pests

If you are having issues with this bug in your garden here are some organic ways to combat them (click "read more"):

Read more...
 
Controlling Aphids on Cole Crops Print E-mail
Written by Ann Shepphird   

Generic seedling shotWe recently received the following question: I am a home vegetable/herb gardener in San Diego.  I have only been growing for three years, so I am still learning.  I tried to grow cauliflower, broccoli and cabbage last cool season and they looked so wonderful.  I harvested them and got ready to cook, and they were FULL of aphids!  What a disappointment.  I spoke to my local nursery, Walter Anderson, and they advised me to “just give up growing cole crops organically.”  Well, I just refuse to believe that!  Can you help me with some tips on controlling aphids on my cole crops here in San Diego?  I'm in Sunset climate zone 23. Thanks, Jennifer Boles

For the answer, we contacted Nick Sakovich and here are this thoughts.

I wouldn't give up. There are some things to do: The two main organic insecticides you can use are horticultural oils, including neem oil, and soap sprays. These will do a decent job. Spraying when you first see the problem, i.e. when the aphid population is low, is best. Other organic insecticides that can be used -- but are more toxic to humans and beneficial insects -- are the pyrethrins (derived from the chrysanthemum flower) and rotenone. One should always read the labels to make sure the product is registered to be applied to that particular crop. When spraying with insecticides, repeat applications are needed since the sprays usually do not control all stages of the insect’s life cycle. Labels usually recommend at least two applications at 5 - 7 days apart.

Other options (click "read more" for rest of article):

Read more...
 
Keeping Pests at Bay Through Diversity Print E-mail
Written by Ann Shepphird   

Called the "eco-oracle" by Wine Spectator magazine, "Amigo Bob" Cantisano (below) is a legend in the organic gardening field. I had the opportunity to learn a ton from him during a recent workshop on the Heart of Organic Gardening up at Esalen.

Amigo Bob Cantisano

Amigo Bob started with a factoid: There are 70,000 different species of insects in the world and less than 100 are pests in the garden. The rest are our allies. That's pretty cool, huh? We have 69,900 allies! Yea!

So the question becomes: how do we get these allies into our gardens? The answer is through diversity. The greater the diversity, the more stability a garden has. So if you're growing mostly vegetables, you will want to add flowers and herbs and allium (onions, garlic, etc.) as they attract the beneficial insects (those allies we talked about) like ladybugs, which are predators and eat the pests, and wasps, which are parasites and love to lay their eggs within the little buggers.

Read more...
 
Bamboo is Blue Print E-mail
Written by Janine Warner   

Bamboo is blueAfter all the warnings that Bamboo will take over your yard if you let it, you'd think we'd have no trouble growing it, but despite buying large bamboo plants, they just don't seem to be adjusting well to our garden.

Not long after we planted them, they developed a black fungus, which we were able to cure, but they've just never taken off, and a year later, I'm wondering what else we can do. They're not too sickly looking, they're just not growing very fast.

We planted them in wine barrels, which are huge, but we got concerned at one point that they weren't draining properly. So we flipped over the barrels, gently laying our distressed bamboo on its site, drilled holes in the bottom of the wine barrels and tried to break up the soil a little. There isn't much room in the barrels for their roots to expand further, but they don't seem rootbound yet.

 A friend suggested grass fertilizer, which we added, and we water them pretty regularly.

 But, alas, our bamboo is growing slowly and with spring blossoming all over the rest of the yard, you'd think they'd be happy.

 What are we doing wrong?

 


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