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Leaf Miners

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Leaf Miners

Post  jazzycat on 7/7/2013, 8:50 am

I've been through a long period of some serious rain (and out of town guests) and haven't been able to tend my garden the way I should.  When the rain finally let up and I was able to go out there and poke around, I was distressed to find some caterpillars had ravaged my radish greens (hopefully the radishes are OK) and leaf miners are in the leaves of almost all of my plants.  HUGELY.  Now I've read that they don't actually damage the fruit, they just eat the leaves, and unless it's a leafy plant you plan on eating, there is no need to panic.  However, my poor plants look awful, with all those white trails all over the leaves.  Is there a way to get rid of those little (add whatever nasty curse word here you like)?  From what I've read, there isn't a whole lot you can do about them (and I have searched).  I would really like to get them under control, however, and I certainly would like learn from my mistakes this year, so I don't have a repeat them next year.

I DID learn about this stuff called Phytol, and I plan to go get some tomorrow if I can find it locally.  If not, I'll order it.  It's supposed to work on leaf mining insects, along with many others.  I hope it won't hurt the frogs, but at this point I'm desperate.  If I can find anything else, I will probably try using some neem, and pray it doesn't do any damage to the frogs.

I also noticed some little black things that at first I thought was bug poop, but when I moved the leaf they ran around (flea beetles, perhaps?).  I didn't get a chance to take a really god look at them, because I was being rushed to take my sister somewhere.  (I have to drive her and mother everywhere because neither of them can drive, and I'm pretty much their caretaker.  So my schedule isn't always my own.)  I'm getting ready to go out there and take a look and see if I can get some pictures, and maybe spray some garlic spray or something to try and get a handle on some of these problems.

Any suggestions would be helpful.  Thanks bunches!

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Re: Leaf Miners

Post  camprn on 7/7/2013, 9:04 am

If the reason you want to treat is because the garden plants' foliage looks bad, pick off the affected leaves. This will make things look better and make you feel better.

Any insecticide need be applied at the time of egg laying only and efficacy is limited.
http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/insect/05548.html

Do you have a link to the product you were referring to?

Flea beetles can be a hazard to young plants, but do little lasting damage to mature plants. I don't worry about them too much.

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Re: Leaf Miners

Post  jazzycat on 7/7/2013, 9:10 am

Here is a link to the product info.
http://www.vitallandscaping.com/pest-control/phytol

I learned about it watching a John Kohler video.
(it's toward the end, at about 11:30)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Drf78XRW-EM

If I cut the infected leaves off, I would be cutting off most of the leaves on the plants.  It's in my cucumbers, melons, tomatoes, everything, pretty much.  I'll put some pictures up after I'm finished outside.

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Re: Leaf Miners

Post  camprn on 7/7/2013, 9:35 am

The plants will put out more foliage, but really, the problem is aesthetic and not affecting the health of the garden. You could pick the most affected leaves and leave the ones with limited involvement.

It seems that this is the active ingredient in that product. A few things of note, this is not a natural product, but a synthetic one. It's primary purpose is for foliar feeding and as a fungicide. The insecticidal properties are not well established, but the minimal evidence suggests that it may have some beneficial effect. The insecticidal effect is indiscriminate and will kill your beneficial insects as well as the targeted ones. It is best used on eggs for controlling the target insects.

John mentions that this product is OMRI certified, but I could not find it on any of their lists. Perhaps there is another name?

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Re: Leaf Miners

Post  boffer on 7/7/2013, 12:11 pm

I've had trouble with leaf miners in my beets for several years. I never seem to get them covered early enough to prevent damage. Significant leaf damage stunts the root growth. But I recently discovered that I can minimize damage by daily observation in order to squish the worms at the first sign of leaf damage. You can see the worm by holding the leaf up to sunlight. They are an easy pest to manage because they don't run or fly away!

Flea beetle damage is ugly, but I've never lost plants to them.

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Re: Leaf Miners

Post  yolos on 7/7/2013, 12:32 pm

I had leaf miners early in the spring and did a lot of research on them.  I can't find my notes now but I do remember a few things.  The miner is inside the leaf so spraying the leaf usually will not kill the miner.  You are supposed to cut off a few leaves, put them in a ziploc bag.  When they hatch out of the leaf you are then supposed to spray the plants.  The ziploc bag with infected leaves is used to determine approximately when the miners are hatching out of the leaf and then are susceptible to killing with an insecticide.  

I did not do this and just cut off the offending leaves.  I still have some leaf minors but they are not destroying the crops.
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Re: Leaf Miners

Post  jazzycat on 7/7/2013, 2:11 pm

camprn, I couldn't find any information on what is in that stuff, after searching for the last hour.  Where did you find it?  That report is from 2003, and I didn't see any mention of Phytol in the report (I skimmed it, I didn't read it).  I was under the impression that this is a fairly new product.  It's quite possible I'm mistaken though.  I'm exhausted, and it's easy for me to make mistakes when I'm in this space.


 Thanks everyone for the replies.  I don't know why there seem to be so many leaf miners here.  I was keeping them under control fairly well until we had all this rain for the last two weeks or so.  Since they don't hurt the fruit production or anything, I suppose I will let it be.  I would have to butcher the plants to get all the affected leaves off.  

As for all the other problems I've been having, from bugs to nutrient deficiencies, I have a plan.  After this growing season when I rip everything out, I'm planning on adding another board to make my beds deeper, and at that point, I'm adding neem cakes into my soil mix, and from now on I'm only using the organic compost that comes from a local organic farm, plus anything I make myself.  No more bagged compost, no matter how good it's supposed to be (except Boogie Brew compost tea and Worm Gold, I love that stuff).  I've talked to a number of people in town about this local compost, from expert gardeners to people who own local nurseries, and they all say the same thing.  That compost is the only growing medium I need.  The man who makes it owns a local organic farm and he's been making the compost for a long time.  He gets fish parts from a local fishery, organic chicken manure from his farm along with organic vegetable greens.  The compost is supposedly a perfect 6.5 ph, and it's OMRI certified.  So I guess I'm very lucky to live somewhere where I can acquire such good compost at such a reasonable price (it's $55 per truckload).  

I think I'm also going to add a timed irrigation system attached to some rain catchment barrels.  The self-watering thing was working great, until it started raining heavily.  Then the tomatoes all started cracking.  Sooooooo...  This is the year to make mistakes and learn, and hopefully next year I will be a little better at it.  

Oh, and when I went out earlier, I didn't see the little black bugs again.  So I have no clue what they were.

Updated pictures.










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Re: Leaf Miners

Post  RoOsTeR on 7/7/2013, 2:19 pm


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Re: Leaf Miners

Post  jazzycat on 7/7/2013, 2:58 pm

Thanks Rooster!  That was awesome!

I had edited my last post to include more pictures of the rest of my garden, and then low and behold, the forum said my editing time had timed out.  So later, I will post the rest of the updates.  Right now I need to rest though.

Namaste.  Smile  flower

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Re: Leaf Miners

Post  dvelten on 7/7/2013, 5:25 pm

Spinosad is supposed to work on leaf miners and will kill the maggots inside the leaf. I have used it on my chard and beet greens where I cared about the quality of the leaf, with good results. My chard and beets are now miner free, while chard in other plots in the community garden have extensive damage.
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Re: Leaf Miners

Post  Triciasgarden on 7/8/2013, 1:38 am

Even though you have the leaf miner problem, your garden still looks quite good! Hopefully you can get some time and get out to your garden and attack those buggers!  Maybe you can do a little squishing, trimming and then use the spinosad.  Bag up the cut off leaves and tie it shut and throw it away to get those things out of your garden.  Then maybe you can sit out there awhile and have some time all to yourself!  It sure sounds like you need it and deserve it!
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