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Spider Mites?

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Spider Mites?

Post  Rahab222 on 3/25/2014, 1:58 am

I discovered I have a spider mite infestation on my tomato plants.  I've dunked three seedlings in soapy water and then rinsed the leaves well under the faucet.  I let these plants dry and then sprayed with a solution of 1/2 rubbing alcohol and 1/2 water; putting an emphasis on the underside of the leaves.  I should know tomorrow if the plants survived.  Then I'll have to tackle more seedlings, plus contaminated plants already in the garden.  I didn't have this problem last year.

YUCK!  And the hot, humid weather hasn't even begun yet.  Between these and the stink bugs, snails, ants and slugs I know why food from the grocery store is so full of insecticides.  The farmers have to do it in order to be able to produce anything at all.

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Re: Spider Mites?

Post  Marc Iverson on 3/25/2014, 1:10 pm

Yup, but to a certain extent that is, for many of them and especially the largest scale growers, a problem of their own making, having made plants weak by failing to properly replenish the soil and relying on chemical fertilizers instead, and making bugs strong by growing ever more susceptible monocultures and using insecticides and herbicides that help breed ever tougher weeds and bugs.

Then, unfortunately, everybody else inherits those bugs and weeds too. But at least we can try to replenish the soil so our growing conditions aren't as conducive to weeds and bugs as denuded soils naturally make any soil.

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Spider Mites/Soil

Post  Rahab222 on 3/25/2014, 11:03 pm

Marc;

As per your mention of "replenishing soil."  I've been doing a lot of research/reading on home gardening for the past three years.  I have beds with Mel's Mix, sandy loam, and a raised bed mix that I purchase from a local nursery that I love.

In reading up on spider mites:

1.)  Spider mites are airborne and come on the wind.  Great.
2.)  Compost piles, dry collected leaves, etc. serve as a habitat for spider mites.
Well, I do have a compost pile and I live on the bayou.  So even if I contain all my leaves for composting, I still have airborne dust coming over the back fence from the bayou.
3.)  Remove all debris from your garden.  Well, I've been reading how you need to "build your soil" like the forest floor; leaving the leaves from fall over the winter months.  Some articles even recommend adding leaves to your garden when you put it to bed for the winter - to reenergize the soil.  I do throw all old plants from my garden away and don't compost these.  I spent some time this evening pulling partially decayed leaves out of my strawberry boxes where the issue is pill bugs eating my strawberries.

In researching what to do about my spider mite infestation, I'm finding A LOT of contradictions related to gardening.  I have expanded my beds this year and could have brought the spider mites in myself through all the new compost material, pine needles, hay, etc. OR they could have simply blown in with the wind.  Gardening can get really confusing.  Methods I think are for the good, may actually be bad.

Information on spider mite infestations I read from a couple of different university studies said if you have a MAJOR infestation, you might want to just stop and plant a garden in the fall.  There are so many things that can ruin all our hard efforts in the garden.  My concern is if I clean the infestation up now, is it going to recur?  This is my current, $60,000 question.  I don't like using strong insecticides or pesticides in the garden.  I'm not growing 100% organically, but as close as I can get to it.  I DO want tomatoes this summer, not next fall.

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Re: Spider Mites?

Post  Marc Iverson on 3/26/2014, 12:00 am

I can sympathize with people who can't do organic all the time, including farmers. If you get a huge bug infestation and your choice is to use inorganic chemicals and make payroll and keep your family and home intact or, on the other hand, to lose everything but go down fighting, it's probably not appropriate for me to judge what someone has to do to protect himself. I do admire the people who try to take the organic route or who at least do their best to nourish the soil rather than strip it, and keep food clean rather than slather it with petrochemicals.

On another note, I think I've made some real headway in my own headspace this last year by becoming more circumspect about taking in information about gardening uncritically. As a newbie, many times I've been all ears and no judgment. Partly that's because I had no foundation to stand on from which I could properly judge anything. But partly, I think, it was some laziness mixed in with a lot of credulity and ignorance about how full gardening chat and lore is of less than useful things.

Like odd notions and random hearsay, baseless speculation, and even knowledge that works in one location but has no bearing on what will work in another. My taking the master gardener's course this year has certainly helped push me toward looking to honest to goodness science for advice rather than authority figures or charismatic bloggers or charming old hands and such for good working information. But I like to think I was heading in that direction in the first place -- away from hunches, folk tales, and obscurity and toward clarity and what might actually be verifiable. That's one of the reasons I even wanted to take the course. I hope we all can catch ourselves when necessary and ask whether the gardening things we hear are really science-based.

I'm sorry you're finding so many contradictions in the subjects you are researching. My take on it is that your local agricultural extension service will probably give you more solid knowledge and advice -- and even better, solid knowledge and advice particularly adapted to your location -- in less time than your research almost anywhere else. Agricultural extension services in other states have plenty of great online and downloadable information too, and sometimes someone available on the phone to answer your questions correctly and for free.

Good luck on your battle with spider mites. For what it's worth, the agricultural scientists who came to give us classes on plant pests and diseases agree that leaving garden detritus around the garden isn't a good idea. I used to, sometimes. But I wouldn't now. Last week we had a great lecturer who was a plant disease specialist. I found it chilling when she told us that wherever she goes, she always make it a point to visit a local supermarket. Odd, eh? What she's doing is checking for diseases. And she says she always finds them, and sometimes multiple ones on the same produce. This is the same produce less trained eyes like mine happily take home, eat, and throw scraps of to our chickens or put it in the compost pile. I found out from her presentation and pictures that my terrible luck with store-bought rotten onions wasn't from their being improperly cured or stored. They had botrytis.

And they've been going in my compost pile all year.


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Re: Spider Mites?

Post  has55 on 3/26/2014, 4:28 am

Hi REHAB222, My texan SFGarderner. I had spider mites on my corn 2 years in a row, then they spread to my tomatoes. The first years it took me too long to identify the problem, but the next year I had great success. It is important to have good soil so the plants are not weak, because the mites will attack them. That said , I used seaweed and saw them gradually disappear within 3 days. I think I sprayed the plants each day. the mites started showing up again about 3-4 weeks later. I reapplied it and had no further infestation. The seaweed also fertilized.       

 I got the info from dirt doctor. see below. hope this is helpful.

Natural Control: Predatory spider mites, ladybugs, minute pirate bugs, thrips and lacewings, and lady beetles. Address the cause of the plant stress. Mites attack only sick plants.
Organic Control: Spraying just about anything every three days for nine days will get rid of them. Garlic-pepper tea and seaweed mix is one of the best sprays. Citrus oil sprays are also effective.

Q:  What can I use to rid my shrubs of "spider-mites" ?.  The shrubs are covered with light (and unsightly) spider webs.  I prefer not to use pesticides.  C.S, Dallas.
A:  Spider mite infestation is a clear sign that water is not effectively moving into the plant. The problem can be caused by too much or too little water, chemically imbalanced soil, compacted soil or other environmental issues. Liquid seaweed spray is highly effective to rid plants of spider mites, in fact it works as well or better than any of the toxic chemicals that are commonly recommended. However, the mites will re-infest unless the major problem that invited them in the first place is not corrected.

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Spider Mites/Soil

Post  Rahab222 on 3/27/2014, 3:05 am

Marc;

Thank you for your very nice dissertation on spider mites and soil.  I was out at my strawberry box picking out leaf debris that had mostly decomposed over the winter.  The pill bugs are destroying my strawberries - eating into them right as they are red enough to be picked.  Our heat and humidity aren't even here yet, but the bugs seem to have overwintered here.  I would love to do the Master Gardener's course; time just doesn't allow it.  In lieu of that, I've attended several of their lectures and call in frequently with questions.  They are very helpful:-)

Has55;

Where are you located?  I watched a YouTube video last night regarding fertilizing with fish emulsion and Epsom salts.  I wonder if the seaweed spray would be in lieu of that or in addition to the fish emulsion/Epsom salts.  If you're in my area, you know we had rain all day today and are expecting more/heavier rain tomorrow.  We've had good spring rains, so the only "dryness" I can think of that would draw the spider mites would be from the stiff winds we've been having.  I went out to the garden this evening between rains and rinsed off the underside of the leaves on two plants that are infested with the spider mites.  I only did two plants, as a test, because they say not to leave water on your plant's leaves overnight.  I have washed several of my seedlings in the kitchen sink and they seem to have really liked it.  Pretty perky now.  I'm just hesitant to take them back outside now.  I need to try the seaweed spray because I just need to get rid of these and not have to keep giving them a bath all summer long.  What a drag that would be.

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Re: Spider Mites?

Post  jimmy cee on 3/27/2014, 7:19 am

What happens to spider mites when you wash them off a plant ? also aphids ?
Do they just drop to the ground and die, are they able to get back to the plant ?

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Re: Spider Mites?

Post  has55 on 3/27/2014, 10:11 am

Hi Rehab222, I live 30 mins outside of dallas, tx or 30 mins from the Oklahoma/texas border. We have the University of North Texas here. 
Got a scant amount of rain yesterday. Today I going to make a new bed and applied the Hugelkultur
technique to this bed and one of my 4 x 4 beds. Later I plan to top all my bed with wood chips using the Back To Eden method. The hope is very little or no watering this summer. 
WE'll see.

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Spider Mites/Soil

Post  Rahab222 on 3/30/2014, 2:14 am

Has55;

I got some liquid seaweed today for my spider mite infestation.  Did you mix your treatment according to the label directions or add extra?  I spray 4 infected tomato plants this evening.  I'll check them in the morning.  This would be a whole lot easier that washing the plants in the sink.  It would also be an easier means of treating those contaminated in the garden.  I'm really tired of washing seedlings, but they are back to normal.

Jimmy Cee;
Yes, you can get reinfected with spider mites.  I think you just have to be really vigilant and check your plants every day.

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Re: Spider Mites?

Post  has55 on 3/30/2014, 12:21 pm

rehab222, excellent question. To tell the truth I can't remember. I went back the Dirtdoctor site and found the link, but no formula for just using seweed. But wow, it was good to refresh myself on the power of seaweed.
seaweed

I'm sure I use whatever the label had and it wasn't much. I don't it had a strong smell like fish emulsion.

I believe I use the garlic tea/seaweed formula initially, but found the seaweed was very effective. I don't think I went every three days for 9 days as recommended in my above post, that may be the reason why I had to reapply later. But it works

here's the garlic pepper tea link, but note it should be use sparingly because it takes out the beneficial bug. this probably why I used just the seaweed,even though my infestation was terrible. 
garlic pepper tea

Here's dirtdoctor's garrett juice and fire ant killer formula if you want to make your own. He's kind enough to gives us the formula. he also shows how to do it on youtube.

garret juice and fire ant killer

butttttttttttttttt, since you live next to the ocean you can collect all the seaweed you want -LOL
just being funny  Laughing

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