This season has already been horrific for pests in our COG garden. We’ve decided the mild winter is the villain in play, leading to many more bugs surviving to lay eggs, hatch into detrimental larvae and adults. We especially have suffered from nasty earwigs and aphids which first decimated our marigolds, moved on to the beans, then the peas, even the hot peppers –which was an immense surprise to Anne. Typically the alkaloid capsaicin –the nitrogen compound that makes the peppers hot — provide enough protection to the plant to prevent insect predation. These were voracious little buggers! Then holes began to appear in our Cannabis and it was war!
Tim had already been applying his usually tried and true method of “Nicotine Tea” –which is an infusion of organic tobacco soaked in water then strained. The tea sprayed on plants is usually sufficient to hold off pests, but you need to keep applying after every watering as it washes off. This concoction was not enough. We made a four-prong attack: ladybugs for the aphids until our praying mantises hatched, parasitic nematodes applied to the soil of the entire garden and back yard to kill the larvae in the soil, praying mantises released throughout the garden for all bad pests, and Monterey Garden Insect Spray. The last item is an organically certified insecticide using natural toxins released by the bacterial group Actinomycetes. Bacteria will produce toxins as a waste product of their metabolism that can also defend them from other bacteria. [Turns out humans can harvest these toxins for our own use — we get a lot of antibiotics from bacteria and fungi]. In this particular instance, two chemicals produced by Actinomycetes bacteria –synosyn A and synosyn D — are also damaging to most insects. Monterey Garden Insect Spray combines them into Sinosad — the active ingredient in a great concentration that you dilute and spray onto your plants. It works!!! We thwarted the onslaught and can now plant more beans and peas.
Now what to do about the birds…
P.S. actually if birds are a huge problem, nets and cages work well