On pest prevention

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Office supplies in the garden:  sowbug-proofing the tomatillo seedlings

So many of the tricks employed to outwit garden-munching critters have seemed somewhat familiar to me, in different contexts.  I was thinking about it last night when I was rigging up these little collars.  “Ah,” I thought.  “This is a barrier method,” as in…contraception!  Yes, it’s true:  one can indeed draw parallels between pest prevention and, uh, well.  You know.  And yes:  the ultimate prevention of all would be not to garden:  abstinence works, right?

In all seriousness (not that birth control isn’t a serious issue), the sowbugs were having a field day with some of my greenhouse seedlings, and I needed to pay attention.  Sure, I do plant more than I need as both insurance and because I like to share my plants, so I can spare a few to the sowbugs (roly-polies, pillbugs); they tend to favor the weaker plants so are actually doing me a favor.  But it is a bummer to come into the greenhouse and see leaves sitting on the ground, stems munched straight through.  The plants are only vulnerable for a short time:  the greenhouse gets too hot and dry for the bugs’ preference, and the plants also toughen up and become unpalatable.  But in the short interim, these index cards work just fine.

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15 responses to “On pest prevention

  1. The contraception analogy is hilarious. Thanks for the op-ed link, too….oh, the absurdity!

    Good thing barrier methods work as well in the garden as they do in the bedroom.

  2. I use those little collar like things also. We are planting 8 rows of stuff this year, in an 16 acrea field. At my age I am wondering if I will be able to keep up with all the work. But we have four families we will feed off it. Usually I just do 2 rows in the 16 acre feet. Sigh

    Linda
    http://coloradofarmlife.wordpress.com/

  3. Abstinence. Heh. I will not bother you with the latest Bristol Palin news. But I am reminded of golf. If the whole point of golfing is to get the lowest score, wouldn’t you win by not playing at all?

  4. Oh El, you’re killing me down here. First rhubarb, then new fresh asparagus, now tomatillos!?!?!?!

    I couldn’t find not one single tomatillo plant for my garden down here, despite living with all the Mexicans around. Maybe they don’t garden. heh :o/

    I guess I’ll be ordering or finding seeds next year and starting my own. Ah, the growth of a gardener.

    • Jules, the young seedling tomatillos are really spindly watery things so I can see seedling-selling companies taking a pass on selling them, frankly. Of course they don’t STAY watery and spindly; they get huge, like tomatoes. OH and one benefit once you DO grow them you will never need to again as they’re crazy self-sowers.

  5. Hey, maybe you could save me some seeds????? pretty please???

  6. I did not know that sowbugs were a problem for tomato seedlings. I thought they just hung out in the compost.

  7. I thought the pillbugs stayed in the compost, too, until I put a lot of compost into my potato bucket last year. The bugs were merciless as the taters sprouted. I was out there picking them off by the dozen. I couldn’t even *see* the sprouts for the bugs at some points. The potatoes did survive, and the the damage was less significant after the plants got bigger, but the bugs are still in that bucket of dirt this year. I may plant weeds in it.

  8. Hmmm. Don’t abstain from gardening, practice appropriate gardening!

    Carefully and thoughtfully choosing an area in which to plant, diligently preparing the soil and finally, tending the tiny seedlings, watching them grow and nurturing them…..appropriate gardening! Reap the harvest! Reap what you sow….food for dinner, food for one another.

    Or, throw kudzu seeds out the window of a moving car. Plant morning glories without a care. Soil rocky? hard?….who cares! Just do it! If it’s what you feel like doing, you should be able to do it. Tomato seedlings shriveling in the poor soil and heat, forgot to water? Weeds crowding out the vegetables? Oh, well…..just forget it. Who cares? Reap what you sow…..oh, yeah, nothing. No food, no future.

    Anyhow,a careful gardener does more than just throw seeds out there, he/she plans to care for them from germination to table. There’s a whole lot more to it than just ‘preventing pests’! 😀

  9. 🙂 Very apt! And the image of the notecard in the garden reminds me that fancy equipment is not needed for success.

  10. Milkweedy, yeah, I know: we could stretch the analogy pretty far with many laughs (and believe me I was laughing). Gardening if it does nothing else gives you time to think!

    Linda, I believe it’s wonderful you’ll be supplying two more families with food this year. It will be fine, though yeah more work with things like the little collars! So, get them to help you. I am always amazed by how much we all get done at the school’s garden!

    CC, oh yes the fertile Palins were indeed in my mind. But yeah, golf: even better is you get a handicap IF you don’t play often too!

    Jules, will do. Let me know when you’re heading up this way!

    Ed, they do mighty fine work in the compost! Actually they like wet, dark places in general and do most of their work at night. So eventually they’re less of a problem here, but right now it’s quite the little Pillbugpalooza.

    Hi Ms M: yeah, you’ve noticed they prefer tender young shoots. We all do so I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised, eh? There’s really no way to get rid of them so we all just need to be aware of their preferences and act accordingly.

    Petunia, you’re quite right, there is a lot more to it than just sowing one’s seed (har). I’ve studied a fair bit of Latin (and romance languages in general) and it is quite interesting to me how many roots of important words and ideas come straight out of gardening, farming and animal husbandry. Culture, for example. We’re nothing if we’re not nurturing beings, we gardeners. A good thing.

    MC, yep! Many solutions are readily at hand, or at least can be found in the home office!

  11. I have horrible sow bug and earwig problems. Since they will just crawl over the barrier. This is what I do:

    -Cut the bottom off of a butter sized or larger plastic container. Now you have a ring.

    -Paint a one inch with stripe of Tanglefoot on the outside, about 1/2″ below the rim.

    -Push about 1-2″ into the dirt around your seedling.

    I also use large water jugs with the tops and bottoms cut off. If I need a cloche I just cut the bottom off and paint the Tanglefoot anyways.

    I the bugs tend to avoid the TF and don’t get stuck in it.

    This gets my plants off to a good start, by the time the leaves/branches are hanging out for the bugs to climb up the plant can usually handle some chewing.

  12. *one inch wide* stripe of Tanglefoot all the way around.

    Typos and clarification just in case…

  13. Christine, thanks for the fabulous tip. I’ve only known it as a pantry moth trap, but I see that it’s a great preventive for fruit bushes and trees. And I do like the idea of recycling those plastic tubs; that would work well for many people.

  14. Thanks for the collar tip!! I’ll have to try that next year in my garden 🙂

    Kendra
    New Life On A Homestead (.com)

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