| Aug 13, 2009

Back to HomeMaster Gardeners - August 13, 2009 Gardening in the summer, with friends and foes.by Ankaret Dean, Lanark County Master GardenersAt this time of the year our vegetable gardens are coming into their own, tomatoes are ripening, lettuces and beans ready for the table and brussel sprouts, broccoli, squashes and root vegetables all coming along.

Everyone is happy, including the rest of those who also enjoy the harvest…not only insects, but birds, and four-legged animals too.

First, the latter problem. What to do when you have unwanted visitors? One of the best ways is to prevent them getting into the vegetable patch. Rabbits, skunks and ground hogs can be kept out with a wire chicken netting fence, with pegs to prevent them pushing underneath. To really keep deer away, the only absolutely effective method is a high fence and to keep the door closed. Smaller animals are a more serious problem. Squirrels and chipmunks are clever, quick and burrow or climb fences. We have been using a ‘Havaheart’ trap to successfully remove 30 (so far) chipmunks from our garden; we also caught a starling, a toad and a squirrel. This is a more humane way of removing unwanted creatures, and easier if you live in the country and can release them into a deserted area. It seems that mice are also a problem this year, and beyond an energetic cat, we think mouse traps are the way to go.

For fruit bushes and strawberries, the most effective method is netting. A wooden frame can be built over the area and when the fruit is ripening a large net can be spread right over the frame. This then can be removed as soon as the harvest is over. It is not unsightly and will certainly protect the fruit from birds and still allow pollination.

For flying insects, a good protection is the floating row cover. This allows the sunshine and rain to go through but keeps away the unwanted butterflies etc. who would like to lay their eggs. The only problem with the floating row cover is that it can prevent fertilization and germination for such plants as cucumbers, squashes, melons, etc

Slugs and earwigs are fond of beer, and a few little containers of beer sunk into the ground can be a death trap for them, hopefully a euphoric end.

Nothing beats hand picking off unwanted visitors; it is the only way I have found to keep the Colorado beetles under control, likewise the lily beetles. All caterpillars and mites are susceptible to a spray of soap and water, (20:1) but remember to wash it off after 20 – 30 minutes.

If you must resort to chemical help, bT is considered a friendly insecticide and also rotenone. Scattering and spraying with a garlic mixture is a good preventative, as is blood meal, and companion planting.

Vigilance is probably the best method; as soon as anything amiss is noticed, do something quickly, before it gets worse.

For more gardening information, call Lorrie MacKay at 613-256-9228.

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