Sep
05
2012

What are my late term options for fighting garden pests?

What are my late term options for fighting garden pests?

One of the most common problems we talk with folks about is fighting garden pests late into the plant’s life-cycle.  As it gets later in the season, what options are available to the gardener?  First, I can’t go any further without saying, that prevention is the key to avoiding any sort of issue.  Preventative spraying during the vegetative cycle, and continuing into the beginning of the fruiting/flowering phase is one of the best strategies. Some fruits and vegetables have thick skins and can tolerate sprays like neem oil, without absorbing its unique nutty flavor.  Other things are more delicate and need to be tended to carefully.  These are the types of plants we are addressing in this article.

So you are three weeks from harvest and your plants are under attack; you see a white, powdered sugar looking substance on your leaves and you immediately recognize it as powdery mildew. While powdery mildew is not harmful if eaten, it is unsightly and reports from the road suggest that some people might be allergic to it.  But that is only speculative.  The question is now that you have it, how can you get rid of it?  What happens when you start seeing little spots and then webs…or little critters scurrying on your leaf surfaces.  The later it gets, the less choices you have, but have no fear there are at least a few strategies that can help to slow down and possibly stop the process.  Unfortunately this late in the game, they are not so much cure-all options, but rather treatment options that allow you to harvest with as little damage as possible.

There are two main concerns with late term spraying.  The first is that there may be toxic residue left over, and the second is that the treatment may impart a taste.  Neither of these outcomes is desirable.  And with time getting short prior to harvest, the gardener needs to be on top of their game to save their harvest.  There are several options that are effective in controlling a powdery outbreak.

1.   Green Cure – is a potassium bicarbonate water soluble powder.  It can be used weekly to fight mold and mildew infections.  It has a surfactant, so no need for one when spraying.
2.   Old-Fashioned BiCarb – is similar to Greencure in that it is potassium bicarbonate minus the surfactant.  This has been used successfully many times with addition of Coco-Wet or other sticker/spreaders.
3.   SNS-244 – is derived from botanical extracts. Some of the components of this spray also work systemically from the inside out to help the plant fight infection.  It is strong enough for trees, and light enough for new growth.
4.   Actinovate – is a patented beneficial bacteria that fights the good fight against mold and powdery mildew.  Actinovate is an organic, water-soluble powder that can be used up to day of harvest.  Some folks now include this organism in their compost tea brews with great results.

As far as the bug situation goes, there are also several options that will slow down the destructive process of the buggers and help you to save your crop.

1.   Mighty Wash – regarded as the cleanest mite solution.  That Stuff’s Mighty Wash can be used until the day of harvest.  This electrically charged solution, and proprietary blend of botanical extracts makes it a newcomer that is making waves.  Yes, people are stoked with Mighty Wash.
2.   SNS-217 – this is is Sierra Natural Science’s mite control spray.  Derived from Rosemary oil and containing Lauric Acid, this spray knocks out adults and eggs.  For those who feel most comfortable using oils to solve their mite problems, SNS-217 is one of the best late term treatment strategies.
3.   SNS-203 – this Sierra Natural Science’s fungus gnat, thrip, root aphid, and whitefly organic solution.  This mix is derived from Rosemary and Clove botanical extracts.  And the reports from the field have been great.  If you are familiar with SNS, then you know they make great products.
4.   Azamax – is azadirachtin, the active constituent of neem oil.  Azamax works best as a preventative, used as a foliar and soil drench.  15 ml / gallon is the magic application rate for either.  Used from early veg until mid-flower will keep your plants inhospitable to invading pests.  Azamax works on most bugs of consideration in the garden.
5.   Azasol - is another azadirachtin derivative pretty new on the market.  This is the first neem derivative to have 6% azadirachtin content and to come in a soluble powder form.  The main benefit versus other neem derivatives is that Azasol is not phytotoxic.  It is less oily than some of the other azadirachtin derivatives and can be used later into bloom that some of the other neem products on the market.

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