MrBoZiffer
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New garden with several issues and pests

This is my first garden and first planting. I've got several issues and pests that need to be addressed. I obviously have done something wrong here. I'm companion planting, so I was hoping that would help with the pests. I've found a ton of good information through this site (for instance, ants indicating trouble), but hopefully ya'll can help me with some other questions.

1. Aphids on two tomato plants. From what I understand garlic water might deter them but the best approach is to have ladybugs take care of them for me. I have marigolds and nasturtiums planted, but still no ladybugs. I might have to order some. I just read (on here) about ants farming aphids, and ants have been present. Also, those two tomato plants have had a rough month. I transplanted them and then found out that my soil pH was below 5 and I shouldn't water their leaves. I've since amended some lime into the soil and raised the pH to just over 6. They improved with bettering watering, but now the aphids are taking them over. They've barely produced anything and have looked kind of wimpy. I wonder if I just scrap them plant something else.
- What's a good place to order lady bugs?
- What's another good way to rid the aphids?
- Are these tomatoes done for or are they salvageable?
- If I want to dispose of them, can I throw them into the compost with the aphids?

[img]https://i563.photobucket.com/albums/ss71/mrboziffer/garden/DSC_0133.jpg[/img]


2. Squash vine borers on zucchini and pumpkin. I've found a moth, eggs, and some clear goo. I've found some good info on SVBs, but things don't look good for me. The pumpkin and zucchini both have splits near the base of the vine. I found a few eggs on other vines and smashed them.
- Will smashing the eggs help protect the vine?
- Is anything edible from these vines now that I know the SVBs have gotten them?
- If I want to dispose of them, can I throw them into the compost?

Zucchini with yellow leaves, uneven coloring, split vine
[img]https://i563.photobucket.com/albums/ss71/mrboziffer/garden/DSC_1331.jpg[/img]
[img]https://i563.photobucket.com/albums/ss71/mrboziffer/garden/121.jpg[/img]

Pumpkin with SVB moth, eggs, goo, and split vine
[img]https://i563.photobucket.com/albums/ss71/mrboziffer/garden/DSC_1328.jpg[/img]
[img]https://i563.photobucket.com/albums/ss71/mrboziffer/garden/111.jpg[/img]

3. Rats in my compost. This might not be that big of a deal, but I wonder if it's a health risk. I built a compost pile out of straw bales, which is what I think is really attracting them. I'm thinking of moving the pile and using some pallets I have used before.
- Will the rat's feces impact the health of my compost?

4. What are these guys?

Worm on tomato.
[img]https://i563.photobucket.com/albums/ss71/mrboziffer/garden/DSC_0153.jpg[/img]

Slug eating corn.
[img]https://i563.photobucket.com/albums/ss71/mrboziffer/garden/222.jpg[/img]

Like I said, this is my first garden. I'm a little disappointed thus far; slow progress, soil problems, tons of mushrooms, and now lots of pests. I'm sure I'll learn from this. Any help would be appreciated! :D
Last edited by MrBoZiffer on Mon May 16, 2011 7:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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rainbowgardener
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Wow! It does sound like you are having a hard time. Any garden is likely to have some of those issues, but you are having a lot. Sometimes new gardens can be like that, especially if someone in the past used to use a lot of chemicals. The chemicals got rid of the "good bugs" that helped keep things in check. Then you start gardening organically (congratulations!) and the pests come roaring back.

Over time the garden will start to balance itself out again. It helps to put up bird feeders, bird baths, bird houses... birds are your friends!

And the stronger you get your plants, the better they will be able to resist pests and diseases. When the plants were struggling with soil not right, etc, that made them vulnerable to all the other stuff.

Garlic pepper spray and/or soap spray is good for the aphids. Or you can just go over the plant with a kleenex and squish them all. I have found with my trumpet honeysuckle vine that gets covered in aphids in the spring that if I do that once, the aphids don't come back. I think the squished bodies of their comrades acts as a deterrent.

Tomato plants should be all right if you manage the aphids. A healthy plant can with stand a fair amount of aphids, but not the kind of infestation in your picture. And your plants were already struggling.

The vine borer is the worst pest in my garden, the only one that totally and rapidly destroys big healthy plants. This year I just didn't grow any zucchini because of it. I'm trying acorn squash instead, which they are said not to like - we will see what happens. In the meantime, I have read here that you can make a slit in the stem where the lesion is (like with a razor blade) and find the grub and pull it out. Tape (? I'm not sure about this part) over the lesion and you may save the plant. But otherwise it is not a question of can you eat the zucchinis after the plant has been attacked by SVB's, it is that your plant will be dead in a few more days.
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

BP
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What kind of tape?

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rainbowgardener
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I don't know, I haven't done it. I went looking for the reference, but didn't find it, but found a couple places where slitting the stem and extracting the grub were suggested, followed by burying the cut part of the stem.

Here's a thread where I quoted from an article about dealing with them:

https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=177554#177554
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

MrBoZiffer
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Thanks rainbowgardener. I found a few more aphids on some very healthy tomatoes and squished them. I also sprayed some garlic spray on the two tomato plants that are the worse. We'll see how that works. I'll probably order some ladybugs, because I've only seen one since February.

I've lived in this home for 5 years and have never really used chemicals for anything. I've left the yard bare so my dogs hand room to run. However, when I dug the beds I noticed that there was barely any topsoil, lots of clay, and I found a bunch of weird stuff. I've uncovered broken glass, soda cans, metal that was so rusted it was unidentifiable, and busted 9v batteries. Needless to say, I haven't been very confident about the soil condition. After digging two beds, I decided to heavily amend a third bed with commercial humus, manure, and topsoil. So far it's been the best bed, however it has all the squash.

I did read elsewhere that stress plants are more susceptible, so hopefully bugs will be less troublesome as the soil improves.

The bird feeders are a good idea. I'll probably get some tomorrow.

cynthia_h
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No one has yet responded to your mention of rats, and that worries me (yes: the rats themselves as well as the lack of response :) ). Rats like to live in plants like ivy and overgrown shrubs: heavy cover near the ground. This is another reason that many gardeners protect their compost piles with chicken wire or other small-aperture wire: so that rats won't be able to get into the piles. Bleah, rats! :x

Rats carry diseases and can transmit these diseases via biting or scratching their victim (human or not). Their urine and feces can transmit several diseases--and I'm far from an expert!--among which are [url=https://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/diseases/hanta/hps/noframes/transmit.htm]hantaviruses[/url]. Nasty stuff, potentially fatal, but fairly straightforward to prevent.

Please don't be casual about the presence of rats; county health departments take their presence quite seriously, and for good reason. I'll be "back" in a minute with the url of a discussion we had here some time ago about rats.

Cynthia H.
Sunset Zone 17, USDA Zone 9

MrBoZiffer
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Cynthia, thanks for the link. For some reason I had thought that rats had some airborne virus associated with them, but I didn't follow up with it. I'm glad you posted that link. I'm planning on moving my compost pile, as well as restructuring it. Currently I have the pile supported with straw bales. I believe the rats have nested in the bales. I'm going to go back to pallets. Also, I stupidly built the pile close to the house, so it definitely has to move. My dogs know that rats are in it and are obsessed over it.

MrBoZiffer
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One more thing... I'm planning on moving the compost pile near the garden. This isn't the most up to date picture, but the semi-bare mound is where I'm thinking about putting the compost. It would be kind of an eyesore, but it'll be closer to the garden and I can extend the electric fence around it. That way big critters and my dogs will stay away from it. Mice and rats could technically fit through the fence, but hopefully they'll still get a shock. At least they would be far from the house.

[img]https://i563.photobucket.com/albums/ss71/mrboziffer/garden/DSC_0149.jpg[/img]

orgoveg
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I have to say that for your first garden, you've set it up quite nicely. Electric fence and all, you've done your homework. I also have to say that you take excellent photos.

The first thing I would do with those aphids is spray the plant fairly hard with plain water. After the plant dries, I would spray it with neem oil. If that doesn't work, I would try spraying the aphids directly with insecticidal soap. You can get both neem oil and insecticidal soap at most garden centers (local nursery, Lowe's, hardware store, etc.). If that didn't work, I would suck the aphids off of the plant with a hand-held vacuum and throw the bag away. If the plants are fairly healthy, they should recover. Yes, I think you can throw them into the compost pile if necessary. If you turn the pile to put the plants into the middle, the aphids should just become victims of the composting process.

The squash vine borers are a huge problem for many, if not most gardeners who grow squash, melons, pumpkin, etc. Once they get started, your only hope is to slow them down and try to get some kind of small harvest. Last season, I experimented with injecting neem oil into the vines with a syringe. It did seem to slow them down and I buried the affected parts of the vines in hopes that they would stay connected and grow more roots. The plants still eventually died, but I got at least one fruit off of each which continued to ripen in my garage. There are many threads on SVB prevention techniques if you search. I've never had any luck slicing the vines open to extract the worm. I can't find the worm.

Rats in the compost pile... that's a new one for me. Why do you have your pile "supported" with straw bales or pallets? My piles are directly on the ground. I have no idea if that is contributing to your problem. I'm just curious. I never put meat or any other types of animal products in my piles because they attract rodents. I read that somewhere years ago. I never thought about the possibility of having a rat-infested pile. Because of your unfortunate experience, I now know why I don't add that stuff.

MrBoZiffer
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Thanks orgoveg. I'll look for neem oil and insecticidal soap.

I read Four Season Harvest by Eliot Coleman and he suggests building compost piles with straw. It seems like a good idea because the straw aerates the pile and you can mix in as you layer the compost. The bad thing is that the bales get wet and moldy. I think the rats like it because it gives them nesting material next to a food source. I have no meat or fats in the pile; only grass clipping, weeds, trimmings, and fruits and vegetables from the kitchen.

MrBoZiffer
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What do ya'll think of this? https://www.buglogical.com/

I could order some ladybugs, praying mantis eggs, nematodes, and lacewings. I guess I could also keep planting flowers that attract them, but I admit that the idea of unleashing them from a box is appealing. :lol:

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Rogue11
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I am not sure about the other ones, but at least unleashing lady bugs will be a waste of money. Unless you have a garden that attracts them they will fly away. But then, if you have a garden that attracts them you wouldn't have to buy them in the first place, right? :wink:

We had a birthday party for a little girl about a month back and we released some ladybugs then. It was fun for the kids but by the next day there were only a couple of them left.

I would assume lacewings would leave too.

MrBoZiffer
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Well my wife says I act like a child, so maybe it'll be money well spent. :wink:

That's a good point though. I'll probably try to plant some more flowers and other plants that attract them. Right now my backyard has nothing except the vegetable garden and some monkey grass.

MrBoZiffer
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The aphids are still hanging around on the two tomato plants in the beds, but they haven't bothered the potted tomatoes. I hand-picked a bunch of the SVB eggs and have not seen any lately. My pumpkins and zucchini are still alive, although the zucchini still has some yellow leaves. But it also has a nice looking zucchini on it and some really healthy looking leaves, so maybe it'll at least produce this one zuke.

On a positive note I have seen some butterflies and this little baby mantis that was too small for a clear photo...

[img]https://i563.photobucket.com/albums/ss71/mrboziffer/garden/DSC_0108.jpg[/img]

I've sowed or transplanted a variety of other plants to help attract some more beneficial bugs, so hopefully they'll be on the way. I found some neem oil too.

I also harvested some lettuce that were full of little bugs - maybe black aphids or mites. They don't look too troublesome though. I just washed them off.

Moley
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Soil PH was naturally below 5? grow blueberries and never stop

pickupguy07
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MrBoZiffer wrote:What do ya'll think of this? https://www.buglogical.com/

I could order some ladybugs, praying mantis eggs, nematodes, and lacewings. I guess I could also keep planting flowers that attract them, but I admit that the idea of unleashing them from a box is appealing. :lol:
I'm a newbie here.. so i don't know much. But I want to pass this along
I've "heard" it's OK to order the lady bugs... problem is when you release them.
Like someone else said.. they just fly away
Here's the tip I heard. The bugs come in some kind of 'cold' container so they are pretty dormant. Then you let them warm up and you see them moving. THAT'S when most people release them.. hence the problem. They fly off.
What I read was that youget some sort of cheesecloth or other very fine material and put the bugs in that for 10 days to two weeks. That way when you release them they are warm AND hungry. They stand a much better chance of staying around as they eat the first (closest) things they find,.. then they have no reason to leave..

I hadn't tried.. I just read about it... but I have a lack of ladybugs also so I may go this route also. I do have some marigolds planted along with several herbs they are said to like.. so I am still hoping. :-) Even put a cute little ladybug house next to my bug attracting plants, and next to the garden. (fingers crossed)
Life is great..... but if you get lemons - compost them :-)
Near Atlanta GA... newbie to gardening & Composting

MrBoZiffer
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Moley wrote:Soil PH was naturally below 5? grow blueberries and never stop
:lol: I did last year. They did pretty well until some roofers destroyed them. Maybe I'll plant some more.

MrBoZiffer
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pickupguy07 wrote:
MrBoZiffer wrote:What do ya'll think of this? https://www.buglogical.com/

I could order some ladybugs, praying mantis eggs, nematodes, and lacewings. I guess I could also keep planting flowers that attract them, but I admit that the idea of unleashing them from a box is appealing. :lol:
I'm a newbie here.. so i don't know much. But I want to pass this along
I've "heard" it's OK to order the lady bugs... problem is when you release them.
Like someone else said.. they just fly away
Here's the tip I heard. The bugs come in some kind of 'cold' container so they are pretty dormant. Then you let them warm up and you see them moving. THAT'S when most people release them.. hence the problem. They fly off.
What I read was that youget some sort of cheesecloth or other very fine material and put the bugs in that for 10 days to two weeks. That way when you release them they are warm AND hungry. They stand a much better chance of staying around as they eat the first (closest) things they find,.. then they have no reason to leave..

I hadn't tried.. I just read about it... but I have a lack of ladybugs also so I may go this route also. I do have some marigolds planted along with several herbs they are said to like.. so I am still hoping. :-) Even put a cute little ladybug house next to my bug attracting plants, and next to the garden. (fingers crossed)
I'll keep this mind. Hopefully they'll soon come on their own. But ordering them still sounds like fun.

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