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OK, I just can't do it...bugs and disease

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OK, I just can't do it...bugs and disease

Post  hartge01 on 7/26/2014, 10:14 am

Greetings everyone!

Well I need some practical advice/help. I am in Gainesville Florida, sort of on that line between Tropical and Coastal South and Lower South Line. My gardens start off REALLY well. I enjoy them tremendously for a while. Then they come. The caterpillars, mites, aphids, diseases, etc. I can keep up at first using hand picking, some soaps and BTC, but the demands of job and family (all good things) limit my ability to spend time in the garden daily. Looking out there today after not being able to get to the garden for a few days I am again met with a total invasion and lots, (all), of the fruit and veggies showing severe loss.

I need to have a more powerful defense so I have to go the insecticide route. Are there any suggestions out there for a good overall product? Currently I have beans, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, cukes, and some things I am sure I forgot. I am not particularly happy about this, and actually am a bit saddened by it, but the continual cycle of great expectations ending in a harvest of very little leaves me only to take this route or quit altogether.

Peace and blessings everyone and thanks!

Gary
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Re: OK, I just can't do it...bugs and disease

Post  yolos on 7/26/2014, 11:04 am

Are you looking for an organic solution or any solution.  Are you looking for a fungicide or an insecticide.
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Re: OK, I just can't do it...bugs and disease

Post  hartge01 on 7/26/2014, 11:18 am

Hey yolos,

ANY solution. More so an insecticide. My confusion due to my limited knowledge and experience is the number of different products that only address this or that. I do not see, or maybe there doesn't exist, an "overall" garden pest control solution that will help me out.

Thanks,

Gary
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Re: OK, I just can't do it...bugs and disease

Post  yolos on 7/26/2014, 11:48 am

Two products that I have used over the years.  I am now trying to be as organic as possible so I have not used either of these in the last few years.

I used to use Sevin (dust or Liquid) for everything.  I no longer use it and bee keepers will go nuts at me suggesting it because it is deadly to bees.

Captain Jack's Dead Bug Brew by Bonide.  It contains spinosad.  The label says for Organic Gardening but it does not say OMRI on the label.  According to the label, Spinosad is classified as an organic substance by the USDA National Organic Standards Board.  But spinosad is not the only ingredient in this mixture (spinosad .5%, other ingredients 99.5%).  And just because it says it is organic doesn't mean it is good to use. It also says "This product is toxic to bees exposed to treatment for 3 hours following treatment.  Do not apply this pesticide to blooming, pollen shedding or nectar producing parts of plants if bees may forage on the plants during this 3 hour time period."  So if I got desperate (which I haven't gotten in a few years), this is the product I would use for a wide spectrum of insects.  Suggest applying it when there is no wind and just before dark when bees should be back at their hives.  Go on-line and read the label before using this.

I also have a product called Garden Safe Neem Oil Extract that is an insecticide, fungicide, and miticide.  I have never used it so I don't know how it works.  It also says for organic gardening but does not say OMRI. 

Hopefully someone else will respond with a less toxic insecticide.
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Re: OK, I just can't do it...bugs and disease

Post  camprn on 7/26/2014, 12:04 pm

Spinosad. read and follow directions on the label don't spray on blooms. for the long run beef up the health and fertility of your growing mix. This will give you healthier plants that can fight off infestations insect and disease.

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There are certain pursuits which, if not wholly poetic and true, do at least suggest a nobler and finer relation to nature than we know. The keeping of bees, for instance. ~ Henry David Thoreau

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Re: OK, I just can't do it...bugs and disease

Post  hartge01 on 7/26/2014, 12:09 pm

Thanks again... very helpful. I am very concerned about bees so thank you for that insight. I have looked a labels specifically for that issue, but as you stated, what is in the 99.5%? I would also like to be as organic as possible, but at this point in life I am losing the battle.

I simply want to get a couple of decent harvests to get my confidence up and figure out the balance between an effective pesticide regime and my ability to spend time in the garden.


Yes, I hope others chime in as well as camprn has. Thanks! I will have a couple of questions regarding that later : )
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Re: OK, I just can't do it...bugs and disease

Post  camprn on 7/26/2014, 1:51 pm


____________________________

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http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t3574-the-end-of-july-7-weeks-until-frost

There are certain pursuits which, if not wholly poetic and true, do at least suggest a nobler and finer relation to nature than we know. The keeping of bees, for instance. ~ Henry David Thoreau

http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t1306-other-gardening-books



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Can't do it

Post  hartge01 on 7/27/2014, 8:57 pm

OK, so I went to the hardware store to get my death spray and started reading the labels. There were not all that many to choose from. There was Capt'n Jacks and a few others including SEVIN.  I couldn't bring myself to do it. All of them had detrimental effects on bees, which I have started to see again in earnest, let alone the HASMAT suit I would have to purchase. Most of my issues are with caterpillars, so I picked up some more Thuricide. I have not had all that much luck with it, but it certainly seems to be the least toxic.

I have some oil spray as well made from fish and lecithin I think. It is supposed to be a fungicide. It is completely organic, but again, not much luck. Plus everything is sort of sticky.

So anyway, below are a couple of pictures from my tomatoes and sweet potatoes. Both are growing like crazy, but are getting attacked hard. I have no idea what is attacking the sweet potatoes, I have never actually seen a bug or caterpillar on the leaves. The holes just show up and get bigger.

Thanks everyone for the input. I think I will pull everything up, turn the soil adding more compost and peat (the soil is starting to look a bit less "spongy") and let it bake for the rest of the summer. Late September I will start my fall crops which I seem to have a little better luck with.

Thanks,

Gary




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Re: OK, I just can't do it...bugs and disease

Post  Kelejan on 7/27/2014, 9:08 pm

@yolos wrote:Two products that I have used over the years.  I am now trying to be as organic as possible so I have not used either of these in the last few years.

I used to use Sevin (dust or Liquid) for everything.  I no longer use it and bee keepers will go nuts at me suggesting it because it is deadly to bees.

Captain Jack's Dead Bug Brew by Bonide.  It contains spinosad.  The label says for Organic Gardening but it does not say OMRI on the label.  According to the label, Spinosad is classified as an organic substance by the USDA National Organic Standards Board.  But spinosad is not the only ingredient in this mixture (spinosad .5%, other ingredients 99.5%).  And just because it says it is organic doesn't mean it is good to use. It also says "This product is toxic to bees exposed to treatment for 3 hours following treatment.  Do not apply this pesticide to blooming, pollen shedding or nectar producing parts of plants if bees may forage on the plants during this 3 hour time period."  So if I got desperate (which I haven't gotten in a few years), this is the product I would use for a wide spectrum of insectsSuggest applying it when there is no wind and just before dark when bees should be back at their hives.  Go on-line and read the label before using this.

I also have a product called Garden Safe Neem Oil Extract that is an insecticide, fungicide, and miticide.  I have never used it so I don't know how it works.  It also says for organic gardening but does not say OMRI. 

Hopefully someone else will respond with a less toxic insecticide.
Could one apply this pesticide and cover with some row cover for some hours to keep out any pollinators?
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Re: OK, I just can't do it...bugs and disease

Post  mollyhespra on 7/27/2014, 11:33 pm

Hi, Gary.

My tomatoes (like yours), got hit by early blight hard this year. I just went out and sprayed with a solution of 1 tsp baking soda and 1/2 tb olive oil to one quart water. That is, after cutting off any spotted leaves. I'm being cautious with the baking soda spray this year after I over-did it on some cukes last year and ended up killing them with kindness, so I'll probably have to spray again in a day or two. The baking soda spray is relatively harmless to the pollinators, though you can cause salt burn on the plants themselves. There's also a anti-fungal spray based on potassium bicarbonate but I haven't been able to find any locally, but you might. The potassium bicarb is gentler on the plants, supposedly.

Like others have already posted, the best defense against critters is healthy plants. Stressed plants (like the tomato starts I bought that got the blight) are more susceptible.

Solarizing your soil might give good results, as might cutting back on the size of your garden based on your ability to keep up with it or being selective with the type of plants that you grow. For example, I didn't grow any brassicas this year because of the damnable cabbage worms. They were just everywhere last year and I couldn't keep up. So, no broccoli or brussels sprouts for me this year, but that's OK... I might have the energy to do it again next year.  Wink 

Just don't give up.

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Re: OK, I just can't do it...bugs and disease

Post  sanderson on 7/28/2014, 12:31 am

Your sweet potatoes leaves look like my okra leaves did. I found and dispatched a few green cabbage worms that explained some of the holes, but not all. I have gentle hosed the top and bottom of the leaves and the stems a few times. Sprayed with 10% nonfat milk 3X and even Neem oil 2X (mixed to instructions) and the damage has all but stopped. A great improvement. I always spray Neem at dusk so it can dry by morning. You could give it a try before yanking them out. Sort of like an experiment.
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Re: OK, I just can't do it...bugs and disease

Post  Marc Iverson on 7/28/2014, 2:10 am

A friend of mine has fantastically healthy looking tomatoes, but he planted them so close they're completely tangled up in each other and starting to get hit hard by disease. He usually doesn't have any disease even when everyone else in the whole neighborhood does. But he has never planted so densely before. He said he just wanted to see what would happen.

I wonder if you might have any of the conditions he has, which make it far easier to spread disease (and insects) -- those conditions mostly come down to the plants being too close and the lower branches being very close to or even touching the soil, and sometimes branches from one plant are touching another, all of which tends to increase humidity and give disease multiple easy ways to spread -- via soil splash-up when watering, physical contact, etc.
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Thanks Everyone!

Post  hartge01 on 7/29/2014, 10:32 am

Not sure of "forum etiquette" in ending posts, but I wanted to thank everyone for the input and help. It is always a pleasure to be on this forum.

Blessings,

Gary
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Re: OK, I just can't do it...bugs and disease

Post  sanderson on 7/31/2014, 6:26 am

Gary,  So, what is happening to your plants.  Did you use anything we discussed?
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Re: OK, I just can't do it...bugs and disease

Post  dstack on 7/31/2014, 8:13 am

Gary, I feel your pain as I'm also in Florida. For caterpillars, tomato horn worms and moth larvae I use BT. It's a bacteria that is deadly only to such soft bodied pests. I also recommend the that you Google "companion gardening".  

I'll be interested as well to see what you've tried, as Sanderson just posted.
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Re: OK, I just can't do it...bugs and disease

Post  dstack on 7/31/2014, 8:47 am

There's a free e-book on companion planting still available at
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00KX8K8B0/ref=oh_aui_d_detailpage_o02_?ie=UTF8&psc=1
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Re: OK, I just can't do it...bugs and disease

Post  hartge01 on 7/31/2014, 1:48 pm

Hey everyone,

Well on the 27th I posted that I had decided to stick with the least toxic choices, BT and a fungicide I have. Sorry I cannot remember the name right now, 123 Organics or something like that. Anyway, I loaded my sprayer and laid a heavy dose on all the plants in my garden, both the tops and bottoms of all leaves and produce.

I was able to take a look for the first time this morning since the 27th. We have not had any rain so the BT should still be present. I did not see any caterpillars in my quick examination. Tomatoes seem to be doing well except for the one with blight. It is producing fruit, but the bottom leaves don't look good. It may be spreading to the other plants as well. I guess I will be pulling that up this weekend.

The sweet potatoes and other crops with heavily damaged leaves are obviously still damaged, but I don't think I see much, if any, new attacks. I will certainly be looking closer this weekend. I am not sure the garden will recover, but I will make that decision this weekend. If not I will be pulling it all out, adding compost and waiting a couple weeks or so to start fall crops. Shoot it was 69 degrees here in North Florida the past two mornings!

Blessings
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Re: OK, I just can't do it...bugs and disease

Post  TCgardening on 8/2/2014, 9:00 am

Gary,
 I too was about to sod over the garden plot! Putting in all that time & effort just to watch it die or be eaten by the bugs. Decided to give it another try and did some homework, found out I was planting the wrong plants at the wrong times. It can be tough to grow tomatoes in the hot Florida summer. If the tomato plant is yellowing from the bottom up it may be a fungus not the blight. Spray it well with Neem oil at least once a week. I also use Monterey garden spray with Spinosid & a BT spray but only to beat back the bugs. The cucumber looper were real bad until I started using the BT spray. For the summer I gave up on the bigger tomatoes and planted Matt's Wild Cherry & the Everglades tomato. Real small salad types but they take the heat and taste great.
 If you haven't already done so read the UF IFAS vegetable gardening guide http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/vh021 It tells you what & when to plant your garden. Their website is my goto place for garden-lawn-pest control info. I had a much better experience following their schedule, you are not fighting mother nature's schedule this way. You should be planting for the fall harvest now.
 Another site that has helped me is http://squarefootabundance.com/ She has a free e-book and news letter that is very informative. I am always hesitant to sign up for news letters but happy to say I have not received any spam from hers.
 Another place for Florida gardening info is Tom MacCubbin's http://www.betterlawns.com/newhome.asp
When I can I listen to his radio show on Saturday mornings. My wife was starting to think I became a gardening nerd until we starting harvesting from the garden. Now she helps me with the weeding. 
Two books worth checking out at the library are;
Tom MacCubbins Month by Month Gardening in Florida
Rodale's Find-it fast Answers for your Vegetable Garden. I ended up buying both as they are so useful. 
 Don't give up yet!
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Re: OK, I just can't do it...bugs and disease

Post  hartge01 on 8/2/2014, 11:42 am

Awesome TC, thanks!

You are correct about scheduling as well. I have learned that the "time to plant" info on seed packs generally are not correct for Florida anyway.

I am going to stick it out. I am about to pull everything up though for as you mentioned, fall planting. I have some great fruit coming in so I will wait a couple of weeks. I do not see any caterpillars right now after I blasted them with a heavy dose of BT a few days ago. Following up again this evening with another dose.

I posted some pictures of my compost in the Compost forum. I am trying to get some input on whether it is ready to go or not. It is several months old and has a great feel, but does have pieces that are identifiable, but less than a 1/4 inch in size.

Thanks for all of the input and the resources.

Blessings,

Gary
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Re: OK, I just can't do it...bugs and disease

Post  sanderson on 8/2/2014, 1:06 pm

@TCgardening wrote:
 Another site that has helped me is http://squarefootabundance.com/ She has a free e-book and news letter that is very informative. I am always hesitant to sign up for news letters but happy to say I have not received any spam from hers.

Nice site, especially for fruit trees and other unusual planting.
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Re: OK, I just can't do it...bugs and disease

Post  NHGardener on 8/2/2014, 3:21 pm

I reiterate the postings here that say the more enriched the soil, the less bugs and pests you will have. Not that you have none, but there may be more of a balance. Compost will be great for your soil. Maybe mulch would work for you too - topping off your beds with a layer of straw.
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Re: OK, I just can't do it...bugs and disease

Post  TCgardening on 8/2/2014, 5:02 pm

Not sure on the compost, mine is still in progress.
Have you thought about Blueberries? That area is ideal for the low chill blueberry bushes and Florida Peaches.
 I have some in the ground and will see how they make out this far south. Also try tapping into the University of Florida's Ag program. I believe they have community gardens & classes there. May be worth the effort to get things going in the right direction.
Another source is the http://www.floridasurvivalgardening.com/
His postings are entertaining but his techniques are not all square foot approved.
 If you have the space for some fruit trees or bushes you area will definitely produce better than mine.
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Re: OK, I just can't do it...bugs and disease

Post  hartge01 on 8/4/2014, 9:05 am

Actually I am attempting to persuade my wife to plant blueberry, or maybe blackberry bushes between our house and our neighbors house. The problem (outside of the pine trees) is our home owners association (don't get me started) "outlaws" home gardens. In other words, all of my gardening is on the low down and therefore not in the best locations as far as sun and shade. My gardening would certainly be over if my garden could be seen from the street.

Thanks for all of the information everyone...great stuff. Update on the garden as of Saturday and Sunday... one caterpillar (now squished) and it appears no new damage on anything in the garden. Lots of little moths though. I applied another dose of BT. Of course it is time to start preparing for fall. I will start a bunch of stuff in planters so that I can give the current fruit and vegetables a Chance to produce what is currently ripening.

I loaded the garden with most of the compost I had and will till the garden before I actually plant for the fall. After doing that we had a decent rain here and Sunday afternoon everything looked a little "happier". 

Blessings,

Gary
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Re: OK, I just can't do it...bugs and disease

Post  NHGardener on 8/4/2014, 9:57 am

Wow, Gary, that's tough with the HOA rules. I can't imagine.

I don't want to be an instigator, but you might want to look into some permaculture plantings - perennial edibles that blend in with the natural habitat and might be less construed as a "home garden." Some of them look more like exotic landscaping than fruits and vegetables. Smile
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Re: OK, I just can't do it...bugs and disease

Post  hartge01 on 8/4/2014, 10:10 am

@NHGardener wrote:Wow, Gary, that's tough with the HOA rules. I can't imagine.

I don't want to be an instigator, but you might want to look into some permaculture plantings - perennial edibles that blend in with the natural habitat and might be less construed as a "home garden." Some of them look more like exotic landscaping than fruits and vegetables. Smile

We are actually, it is in the bylaws, supposed to get "permission" to change our landscape. An interesting twist is that we are not supposed to have any citrus trees either. I have a Honeybell orange and a tangerine tree in my front yard. They were Mother's day gifts for my wife from the kids. They are now HUGE! and produce a ton of citrus. So much my neighbors keep an eye on them as the fruit starts to mature since I share a lot of it with them. We could never eat it all. I have not heard word one about them. They are big, green and very healthy.

In order to plant between the houses I will have to use boxes due to the pine tree roots. Big red flags to the HOA. I am going to attempt to cover as much of the boxes with leaves from the pine and oak trees since there is a bit of a sway between the  houses. It may be just deep enough to allow me to accomplish this. We will see. Wild raspberries/blackberries are native here. I see them in the woodlands around here.

Sad isn't it?
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Re: OK, I just can't do it...bugs and disease

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