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Researching safe garden pest solutions, permaculture options welcome  RSS feed

 
Posts: 136
Location: Ohio
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Hi everyone, this year will be our first market garden.  So I'm researching the best ways to solve potential pest problems in the future.  I would love to know some safe and simple solutions (sprays) for pest management.

http://home.howstuffworks.com/green-living/homemade-organic-gardening-sprays.htm

Does anyone see problems with the articles solutions?  What alternative do you know?

What biodegradable soap do you use, if any?  Is baking soda a problem for the environment in small amounts?  I will avoid the salt altogether.  Also, is mixing bleach and plant fertilizer (worm castings compost tea), soaking cotton balls in the solution and applying to unwanted vines an environmental Hazzard?  I'm leaning towards yes, but previously read that solution on Permies.  Would vinegar work in place of bleach (other ideas)?

We do not want to Incorporate animals or perennials in our market garden this growing season (next spring for animals, perennial added in the fall).  We have a separate area for more permaculture and perennial plants already.  

I appreciate any help and advice.

Steve
 
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Posts: 3944
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
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I don't apply any kind of -cides, poisons, nor protective chemicals to my market garden. I am a sustenance farmer, and can't afford the inputs, nor the labor to apply them. Besides, my gardening style is all about disintermediation: Not depending on a middleman (manufacturer, trucker, store) for the health of my crops.

My strategy is to grow varieties that are resistant, or immune to my local pests and diseases. In some cases, I had to develop my own varieties of plants and even pests.

In some cases I had to develop a clientele that views bugs or bug bites as a badge of honor: A visible assurance that I am not poisoning the people I feed. As an example, I grow sweet corn with corn-ear worms in it. During harvest I nip off the end of some  cobs with secateurs, and leave the worms in the field.

Cabbage worm butterflies are blown into my valley with the summer monsoonal rains. Therefore, I plant varieties of cabbage that are expected to mature before the arrival of Cabbage Whites.

I grow spinach with smooth leaves instead of puckered leaves. Because puckered leaves provide the perfect protected habitat for a species of worm. That worm never bothers the smooth leaved spinach.  

If I poison the aphids, I am also poisoning the lady bugs and wasps that eat the aphids. I'd rather keep my predators than eliminate the prey that they depend on.
 
Steve Taylor
Posts: 136
Location: Ohio
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Joseph Lofthouse wrote:I don't apply any kind of -cides, poisons, nor protective chemicals to my market garden. I am a sustenance farmer, and can't afford the inputs, nor the labor to apply them. Besides, my gardening style is all about disintermediation: Not depending on a middleman (manufacturer, trucker, store) for the health of my crops.

My strategy is to grow varieties that are resistant, or immune to my local pests and diseases. In some cases, I had to develop my own varieties of plants and even pests.

In some cases I had to develop a clientele that views bugs or bug bites as a badge of honor

That worm never bothers the smooth leaved spinach.  

If I poison the aphids, I am also poisoning ...



I agree with you, but lack that clientele for now.  Small inputs used infrequently seems reasonable to have good looking produce in the meantime.  

 I'm all for using the resources on hand.  That is what I'm hoping for.  
 
Steve Taylor
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Below is their list.  1-3 seem safe, am I wrong? Are you strongly opposed to any/all of these?

Also, last year powdery mildew and cabbage worms were a problem in the fall.  I composted all of it.  They liked to live in the stem and leaf curls of the kale.  I don't think people will be happy with insects In their produce.

1. Tomato Leaf Spray is effective in killing aphids and mites. It works because the alkaloids in the tomato leaves (and the leaves of all nightshades, actually) are fatal to many insects.

2. Garlic Oil Spray is a great, safe insect repellent. Simply put three to four cloves of minced garlic into two teaspoons of mineral oil. Let the mixture sit overnight, and then strain the garlic out of the oil. Add the oil to one pint of water, and add a teaspoon of biodegradable dish soap. Store in a bottle or jar, and dilute the mixture when you use it by adding two tablespoons of your garlic oil mixture to one pint of water.

This mixture works because the compounds in garlic (namely, diallyl disulfide and diallyl trisulfide) are irritating or deadly to many insects. The oil and soap help the mixture stick to plant leaves. What insects does garlic oil repel? Whiteflies, aphids, and most beetles will avoid plants sprayed with garlic oil. A word of caution: don't apply this spray on a sunny day, because the oils can cause foliage to burn.

3. Hot Pepper Spray is a great solution if you have problems with mites. Simply mix two tablespoons of hot pepper sauce, a few drops of biodegradable dish soap, and one quart of water and let it sit overnight. Use a spray bottle to apply the spray to infested plants.

Hot pepper spray works because the compound capsaicin, which causes the "heat" in hot peppers, is just as irritating to insects as it is to us (have you ever sliced a hot pepper and gotten any of it in an open cut? Ouch!) This mixture also helps repel whiteflies, but it may have to be reapplied if you start to see the mites or whiteflies returning.

4. Simple Soap Spray is useful in taking out a wide variety of garden pests, including aphids, scale, mites, and thrips. Just add one tablespoon of dishwashing soap to a gallon of water and spray the mixture on the pests.

Why does this work? The soap dissolves the outer coating or shell of the insects, eventually killing them.

5. Beer for the Slugs: sink a tuna can or pie plate into the ground, and add a couple of inches of beer, to about an inch below the top of the container. The slugs will go in for a drink and drown. Beer works because the slugs are attracted to the yeast. It's really important to sink the container into the soil and keep the beer about an inch lower than the soil. This way, the slugs have to go down after the beer, and they drown. If the beer is near the soil, the slugs can just have a drink and then go and munch some hostas when they're done with happy hour.

6. Citrus Rinds as Slug Traps. This works. If you don't have beer in the house, but you do have oranges, grapefruits, or lemons, give this a try.

7. Newspaper Earwig Traps work well for reducing the population of these sometimes-pesky insects.

8. Soda Bottle Yellowjacket Traps work by attracting the yellowjackets away from seating or picnic areas, and then ensuring that they can't escape the trap.

9. Red Pepper Spray works well for making your plants less tasty to mammal and bird pests. If bunnies, deer, mice, squirrels, and birds are regularly messing with your garden, make the following mixture and spray target plants weekly. Mix four tablespoons of Tabasco sauce, one quart of water, and one teaspoon of dish soap. The capsaicin in the pepper spray will irritate the animal pests, and they'll look for less spicy fare elsewhere. Fungal Disease Solutions

10. Milk for Powdery Mildew. The milk works just as well as toxic fungicides at preventing the growth of powdery mildew. This mixture will need to be reapplied regularly, but it works wonderfully.

11. Baking Soda Spray for Powdery Mildew is a tried-and-true method for preventing powdery mildew. It needs to be applied weekly, but if you have a problem with mildew in your garden, it will be well worth the time. Simply combine one tablespoon of baking soda, one tablespoon of vegetable oil, one tablespoon of dish soap and one gallon of water and spray it on the foliage of susceptible plants. Baking soda spray works because the baking soda disrupts fungal spores, preventing them from germinating. The oil and soap help the mixture stick to plant leaves. Weeds

12. Vinegar works very well for weeds in your lawn and garden. The main issue with vinegar is that it can harm other plants. I recommend using a foam paintbrush to brush the vinegar directly onto the leaves of weeds you're trying to kill. This prevents the vinegar from getting onto other plants and ensures that the entire leaf surface is coated with the vinegar.

13. Boiling Water for Sidewalk Weeds: Boil some water, and pour it over weeds in the cracks of your sidewalks or driveways. Most weeds can't stand up to this treatment, and your problem is solved. Just be careful when pouring!

14. Vinegar and Salt for Sidewalk Weeds: I personally prefer pouring boiling water on sidewalk weeds, or pulling them. But if you have some really stubborn weeds, you can try diluting a few teaspoons of water into some white vinegar and pouring that onto your sidewalk weeds. Please note that this concoction will kill just about any plant it comes in contact with, so keep it away from your other plants, as well as your lawn. And the Best Homemade Garden Concoction of All

15. Compost!
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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I am not opposed to what other people want to do in their gardens. My highest social and spiritual value is "Leave other people the hell alone". My definition of people includes the bugs and microbes that live in my garden. In my own life, I choose simplicity. I can only apply sprays to my garden if I have a sprayer. I can't manufacture my own sprayer so I choose to not apply sprays to my garden.

My favorite patrons are those that love bugs in their produce... They often end up becoming members of my tribe. The amount of food I can feed to my community is greatly expanded if  we worry less about bugs, or blemishes.  I invite people that want a  world-expanding experience to go out to the garden and start eating insects... I really like the formic acid flavor of ants.

If I had problems with insects living in the curly leaves of kale, I'd grow a kale with non-curly leaves.

Many years ago, I made a garlic and hot pepper spray, and applied it to my houseplants. I had to abandon the room for a few days because it was too toxic to be in. That was the last time I sprayed anything.
 
Steve Taylor
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Joseph Lofthouse wrote:
1.) I can only apply sprays to my garden if I have a sprayer. I can't manufacture my own sprayer so I choose to not apply sprays to my garden.

2.) I invite people that want a  world-expanding experience to go out to the garden and start eating insects... I really like the formic acid flavor of ants.

3.)If I had problems with insects living in the curly leaves of kale, I'd grow a kale with non-curly leaves.

4.)Many years ago, I made a garlic and hot pepper spray, and applied it to my houseplants. I had to abandon the room for a few days because it was too toxic to be in. That was the last time I sprayed anything.



1.) Very true, but we do have one from spraying compost tea (worm castings and Nettle).  I've also used 5 gallon buckets and tree branches (with leaves) spreading it in the garden.

2.) I think eating bugs is great, but not all bugs are edible raw or at all.  

3.) They were also on the straighter leaves of the Red Russian Kale and the Red Cabbage.  But, maybe they wouldn't be if they hadn't established themselves on the curly.

4.) That could get smelly indoors, but I don't think it would be toxic.  Those smells wouldn't be as bad outside.



 
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The only real "pest" problems I've had on my vegetables have been indicators of failure on my part to garden properly.  Insects attack plants which are stressed or are poorly adapted to the conditions.  I'm thrilled to see more kinds of insects in my garden, they may have more to teach me about gardening.  Plus they're interesting and beautiful!

One of my favorites is the Tomato Hornworm.  I plant Devil's Claw plants specifically for them, as this lovely plant is the only one other than Tomato relatives which the worms will eat.  The worms grow up to become wonderful moths.  It's possible that Devil's Claw might be grown as a trap crop for hornworms, but I personally move the worms from the Tomatoes to the Devil's Claw.

 
Steve Taylor
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https://deepgreenpermaculture.com/diy-instructions/strange-brew-homemade-garden-sprays/

This article has more plant based brews.  
 
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Wasp from the Subfamily Pemphredoninae commonly called aphid wasps can be attracted to the garden by providing them with wooden nesting blocks with 2mm to 4mm diameter holes drilled in them. Drill the holes as deep as possible without going all the way through shallow holes may get used but deeper is better. They nest in a similar fashion as mason and leafcutter bees sectioning off and stocking their tiny holes with several aphids for their larvae to eat.
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hau Steve, the only thing I will say about all of those listed "insect sprays" is that all of them are indiscriminate, so if you are good with killing honey bees, lady bugs, walking sticks, praying mantis, and most of the beneficial insects so you can get rid of a few "pests" then by all means go for it.

There isn't anything on the market, suggested by well meaning people, or for profit companies, that isn't harmful to beneficial insects with honey bees being the main victims. (I know you know how important and how in danger these little guys are to producing any crops that are not self pollinating)

I  have never found a "yellow jacket trap" that didn't catch more honey bees than it did wasps.

If you just have to spray something a light nicotine spray probably gives the best results without wiping out many of the good insects.
Note: today we have pheromone traps for many of the damaging insects, these do not effect our beneficial insects.

As with everything it is your personal choice, what to use, how to use it, are up to the individual.

Redhawk
 
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Last summer Japanese beetles moved into this area.  Their worst damage was to what would have been a great crop of peaches on a mature tree. They actually left pits hanging on the tree. There was also a much larger beetle, bigger than a Junebug but not many. There were so many beetles that it was a little scary trying to save a few peaches. They didn’t bite,  but I wasn’t sure that they couldn’t. If I shook the main branch, they’d all buzz me at once. Thousands.

I expect them to be worse next year. Does anyone have suggestions?
 
Matt Bearup
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Ken W Wilson wrote:Last summer Japanese beetles moved into this area.  Their worst damage was to what would have been a great crop of peaches on a mature tree. They actually left pits hanging on the tree. There was also a much larger beetle, bigger than a Junebug but not many. There were so many beetles that it was a little scary trying to save a few peaches. They didn’t bite,  but I wasn’t sure that they couldn’t. If I shook the main branch, they’d all buzz me at once. Thousands.

I expect them to be worse next year. Does anyone have suggestions?



Milky Spore is a bacterium that is ingested by the grub stage of the beetles it kills the grub and generates even more of the lethal bacteria in the surrounding soil. Harmless to anything not a beetle grub. http://stgabrielorganics.com/product/milky-spore
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