Thursday, June 10, 2010


Not all our veggies look like this. In fact, only a few do. But it’s worrisome enough that something needs doing here. Our pest management program needs revamping.

But, it takes awhile, doesn’t it, to make changes in routines. You would think by this time, MM and I would have acknowledged the “rightness” of using biologicals for our insect and fungus control products in the garden. But we’re slow to adapt, or maybe more to the point, we’re slow to trust.

We’ve always used the old standards—Captan, Sevin Imadan, sprays and dust, etc. But the choices are narrowing and the “poison” aspect has disturbed our sensibilities for quite some time. Nonetheless, change is always challenging. And the term “organic” has become “blurred” to where it feels like a “selling feature” more than a reality…does that make sense?

The term “organic” has seemed to me to have more to do with selling and advertising than safety. As a result, I mostly have steered clear of the term “organic” feeling slightly “used” if I were to cave in to purchasing something with the organic label, as I did yesterday when buying a bag of fresh carrots at the grocery store. Labeled “organic” I know I am supposed to feel that I have done my earthly duty by buying “organic” and that I am much better off healthwise, …but I don’t. I feel I’ve been hoodwinked. It’s a ploy to make me feel better…whatever that is…!

And so it has been with the biological products for pest management. I’ve resisted, feeling I was being duped. But, I’ve come to believe otherwise. And…the “older” products we depended upon, one by one, have dropped by the wayside and gradually, pest management is being done via newer means that works WITH the environment. And that’s good. So, it’s time. My mother with her Parkinson’s disease was told that her relentless dusting of her roses—using high-powered poisons without wearing a mask-- may have caused it. So, I’ve been wary of all manner of poisons for garden use.

Thanks to Vicki Vicki Lane Mysteries and Barbara Folkways Notebook, and Ruta Ruta's Ramblings I’ve spent the morning exploring and shaping the purchase of our first “wave” of “natural” pest eradicators for use in our garden out here JOTOLR I am more than pleased to make this transition, never having been a great fan of the “old” types of insect killers. My list includes the following:

Essential Minor Elements—includes magnesium, manganese, iron, sulfur, copper, zinc, boron…in a granular forumulation (we need trace minerals in the garden)

Liquid Copper Fungicide – (specifically for tomatoes)

Thuricide Bt Caterpillar Control (for cabbage loopers, and corn borers)

Neem Oil – Fungicide/Insecticide/Miticide (for everything)

Please let me know what you think. Have I missed anything? I know some of you use Safer’s Insecticidal Soap, but I traded the Neem Oil for that. Opinions welcome…..!

Finally, this was a delightful surprise.  I thought I'd lost my Japanese Iris!  But thankfully, no!  It survived! 


  1. Elora, You asked for opinions. Mine will probably make one dizzy. I have been gardening since I was a teenager following and helping my father in the garden. Eventually graduated to large gardens as an adult and now in my elder years, I am in the tiny garden stage. The only product I ever used to control insects during all those years was a safer soap product to control box elder bugs that were climbing incessantly up the sides of my home and entering the house. Otherwise, I have always adopted old time ways like cayenne pepper spray, pressure water sprays, building up fertile soil to supply hardy nutrients (making strong plants) and other ways that would take up a lot of space on this comment form. Basically, if it doesn't resolve the problem I either cut the bad part of the plant and let it try to survive or I will yank it. So far the only plants I ever had to yank were the blighted tomatoes from last year -- but that was not from insects. May I recommend the Permaculture methods. There are lots of sources on these methods. I am sure you can find them online or at the library. That is what I lean toward. I can tell you and MM are great gardeners from your posts. Your bean post was fascinating and I learned from it. -- barbara

  2. Elora I know nothing about gardening but I do know that it makes no sense to me that we would use poison when we could do other more natural things. My brother and his family live in the middle of cotton fields and have for years breathed the air when the cotton was "dusted". The result - numerous health problems. blessings, marlene

  3. Hi Elora,
    This may sound a little complicated and is a solution I'm slowly working towards. Growing nutrient dense food results in a plant that has no appeal to bugs and nasties due to the change in it's sugar composition. I'm still trying to get my head around it all but my uncle has a very successful business consulting with dairy and other farmers to work towards nutrient dense production, either organically or not as the farmer chooses. Basically what happens is that when a plant only has simple sugars then it will be palatable to bugs etc but when it reaches a higher brix level and those simple sugars convert to complex sugars then bugs can't digest it but it is perfect for humans as more nutrients are available in the plant and the flavour is far better. Most nutrient dense gardeners aim for a brix of 12+ (measured with a refractometer) by regular soil testing and input of missing nutrients or those required to unlock what is already there to a bio-available form. Our pastures have been under my uncles guidance for 4-5 years now and the change has been incredible - more 'weeds' now flourish resulting in a mixed ley for the cattle which has increased the nutrients available to them and resulted in very health animals with good growth and no drenching requirements. Hay cuts have been much thicker then in the past and there is a marked distinction between our property and the neighbours who apply tonnes of chemical 'make it look good with no real nutrients' fertilisers.
    Oh dear I could go on! I know it hasn't resolved your immediate problem but there's plenty of info out there via good ol Google.

  4. One reason we quit growing tobacco some time ago (before the government buy out) was the ever increasing spraying needed.

    The possible link between raising roses (and the traditional ways do require lots of spraying)and Parkinson's is REALLY scary.

  5. I've always stayed away from using chemicals in the garden when at all possible but I have never been dependent on my garden for food or for income. I think I was highly influenced by reading Rachel Carson's Silent Spring when I was just a teenager and so many of her 'way out' views eg asbestosis, have now become accepted by all the scientific community. Over here in the UK the rules are very strict on labelling produce as organic and if you have the money to buy organic foods you can be assured that not only will no inorganic chemicals have be used directly on those crops but there will have been none applied to the soil or to the food (in the case of meat or milk) for a certain number of years.