November Week 2: Pest Prevention

Posted in Weekly Garden Guide for November by on Friday, November 8, 2013

Tiny caterpillar pests

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Botanica’s Weekly Garden Guide for November

Week 2:  Pests

Welcome to week two of the November gardening season. If you are still planting and fertilizing this week, that’s ok. Keep up the great work! If you’re done with last weeks project then now is the time to look at controlling those late Fall, early Winter pests.

Right now caterpillars are filling their bellies before their big butterfly debut. Many people have planted butterfly larva friendly plants like milk weed to attract caterpillars, but there are lots of pesky moth larva that could make a mess of your collards, kale, lettuce, corn, beans and tomatoes.

I always recommend trying to be diligent with using only organic and natural treatments for your garden; maintaining a healthy environment for your family and the beneficial little helpers in your garden. We’ll touch more on this particular topic in the coming weeks.  For now, let’s focus on a natural remedy to discourage those caterpillars that are chewing on your veggies. What expensive, exotic, natural deterrent am I going mention first? Cardboard! Surround the base of the plants with cardboard. Caterpillars are much too sophisticated to be seen living in a messy, cardboard strewn garden and will promptly pack up and head to your neighbor’s garden instead. Only kidding, I haven’t figured out WHY they leave after the garden has been cardboarded, but it works.

Pluck off the all the big catties that you can see, and for the remaining eggs and larva I recommend a bacillus thuringiensis treatment. This safe, bacterial agent also known as “BT” will make short work of the stragglers. If you want to dispose of the adults you’ve collected, you can use a water and dish soap mixture on them. They hate baths. If your conscious can’t handle that method of “disposal”, you could relocate them about 200 – 250 yards away from your garden, where the birds will do the dirty work for you.

The Texas Agricultural Extension Service has a great guide to common caterpillar pests right HERE.

Be sure to cut back the damaged leaves on your veggies and rake away debris so you have a tidy, healthy garden again.

Thanks again for tuning in! Come back next week for our discussion on irrigation during this dry spell and don’t forget to send in your garden questions and concerns before the third thursday so we can help you out in our Botanica End of the Month Q&A Session. We are looking forward to seeing your progress during this wonderful winter.

Oscar Moraes

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