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Imidacloprid (Think Before You Use) by Katherine Courtney

think There is no doubt that chemicals and synthetics have made our lives easier.The kayaks and inner tubes we use in the rivers to cool off and the cars we use to get to those rivers are all made with synthetics. Theses chemicals have their place. Where they don’t belong is in your gardens. There is the rare circumstance, such as saving an old tree or a special plant, where a chemical systemic is your last resort. Make these choices wisely. These poisons make their way deep into your soil, into the waterways that lead to the bay, and into your plants. The compound Imidacloprid, found in most systemics, has been linked to the kill off of bees and other pollinators. Never use systemic chemicals on or near something you are going to eat. If it can kill the bugs you are targeting then it is certainly not good for you to eat. The good news is that there are many ways to treat garden pest problems organically. The internet is full of information on different spray recipes and organic oils you can make or buy to fight bugs. Here are some of my favorite methods for dealing with the undesirables.
Maas Nursery

Maas Nursery

 
     My favorite way of dealing with the larger critters has been affectionately named Pick and Squish. Some people may want to use gloves for this method. Take a small bucket of soapy water with you as you make your daily garden rounds. While you are watering your plants, check for bugs and snails. If you see a bug or caterpillar, know it’s bad and know it will not sting, pick it off the plant and squish it. If you’re not feeling destructive at the moment, just dump the bug into the soapy water bucket. Problem solved. This method works great with snails, pillbugs and bigger things such as grasshoppers and caterpillars.Grasshoppers are very troublesome and this is about the only way to get rid of them. If you grow milkweed for butterflies then you also have an aphid problem. I rub my fingers up the stem and down the leaves of my milkweed squishing orange aphids as I go. This doesn’t completely get rid of them but it does slow them down considerably. Look to make sure you have no caterpillars first. Don’t want to squish the baby butterflies!
 
     If you are squeamish about bugs or just don’t want to touch them, there are other methods of defense. To keep bugs from chewing on your garden plants try making the plants taste or smell bad. Garlic and Hot Pepper sprays are good for this. Are mosquitoes keeping you inside and preventing your garden walk? Products with cedar, lemongrass, citronella and geraniun oils can be scattered or spayed around your garden. Cedar is a great all purpose insect deterrent for your yard. it will help with flea, tick and ant problems. Ground cedar mulch is a good idea for children’s play areas and outside dining areas. If you have ponds or other water features, mosquito dunks or bits are a great way to stop mosquitoes. These products kill mosquito larvae preventing mosquito outbreaks. Certain plants also deter mosquitoes. Citronella, wild ageratum and almost anything smelling of citrus such as lemongrass or lemon balm will repel mosquitoes to a certain extent. This method works best if you water the plants and then rub or swish them to get the scent in the air. The scent smells nice and fresh to you but not to the mosquitoes. 
 
     Mealybugs and scale have been rampant this year, showing up in places they have never been before. Scale and mealybugs are tough bugs to fight but you can kill them. First remove all of the infected leaves that have dropped to the ground and rake up around the plant. Then try to remove the most infected leaves from the plant. Make a spray using orange oil and neem oil. These can be diluted together so they can be applied together. For most foliar applications use 2 oz. of orange oil and 1 oz. of neem oil per gallon of water. Check the products to make sure this dilution is right for your application. Put this mixture in a pump up sprayer and spray both the tops and bottoms of the leaves. Make sure to really spray the bottoms of the leaves as most of the bugs will be there. Apply this mixture once a week for three weeks to get all life cycles of the bug. In hot weather treat the plants in the evening to avoid the hot afternoon sun. These are oils and will burn your plant if applied at the wrong time.
 
     Citrus trees are usually very tough but sometimes they can get tracks in the leaves or have leaf curl. The cause of the damage is leaf miner bug. Everyone wants to eat their citrus so it is very important to go organic with this problem. If the tree is big, leaf miner won’t kill it. I ignore it on my 15 year old satsuma. Smaller trees can be sprayed with a product called spinosad.  Spinosad is a substance found in soil bacteria that can kill some targeted insects. It is used for leaf miner, caterpillars and a few other pests. spinosad will not harm your fruit.
 
     Living on the Gulf Coast every gardener is familiar with fungus problems. After the torrential rains of May and June we have all been fighting some kind of fungus. There are multiple organic products that can deal with fungus and mold. Actinovate fights fungus in soil and on plants and leaf mold compost is great for fighting brown patch and take all patch in yards. Neem oil or copper soap are good fungicides for vegetables flowers and shrubs. Preventing fungus is better than having to fight it after the fact. Make sure you plants have plenty of space for air circulation and plenty of sunlight if they need it. Do not let plants sit in water as this will cause root rot and other fungal diseases. At first sight of fungus pick off infected leaves and throw them away in a sealed bag. Some gardeners do a preventative spray of neem oil before fungus season arrives.
 
     We have many other organic products here at Maas Nursery such as Sluggo for snails and Milky spore for grubs. If you have a garden problem there is almost always an organic solution. Come in and talk to us about ways to make your yard and garden safer for your children and pets. We are here to help and very passionate about our work and keeping the earth in good shape for the next generation. Hope to see you here soon.
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Maas Nursery