Political Commentary

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

From the Gardens Registrar: Wisconsin Pest Bulletin; Insecticidal Sprays; Jumping Worms; Woodchips; Workday This Sunday

Hello Gardeners,

WISCONSIN PEST BULLETIN – The State of Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection puts out a weekly Pest Bulletin during the growing season. While the information is primarily for farmers and commercial plant growers, it’s interesting to ordinary gardeners to see what insects are headed our way. You can find the bulletin at http://datcpservices.wisconsin.gov/pb/index.jsp .You can also subscribe to it, and have it sent to your email every week. According to the latest issue, cucumber beetles are becoming active, and Colorado potato beetle eggs are close to hatching. Cucumber beetles attack, not only cucumbers, but also summer and winter squash, and melons. They primarily damage these vegetables by spreading bacterial wilt. So beware.

INSECTICIDAL SPRAYS – A gardener emailed me to ask what to do about holes in bean leaves, and mentioned he’d heard about spraying them with dish soap. I looked at various sites on the Internet, and found that some people do get good results battling insects with dish-washing detergent or liquid soap, although there are plenty of arguments about what does and doesn’t work, plus concerns about some of the ingredients in many soaps and detergents.
The safest and surest way of removing insect pests from your plants is hand-picking them. However, it’s time-consuming, and can be icky. You can buy insecticidal sprays, but of course if you garden at Eagle Heights or in the organic rows at University Houses, the sprays must be organic. Some websites provide specific recipes for making your own soap-based sprays, at much less cost – here’s a sample: https://plantcaretoday.com/castile-soap-spray.html  You should be careful about spraying your plants on very hot days – the soap could hurt them. Since these sprays are only used on the insects you’re trying to get rid of, they won’t hurt bees, which is important.

JUMPING WORMS – Jumping worms were first found in Wisconsin in 2013, and have been spreading. None of the earthworms in Wisconsin are actually native, but this type of worm is not only invasive, but destructive. There are definitely jumping worms at Eagle Heights Gardens. They are almost impossible to get rid of, once they appear. The only thing we can do is to try to keep them from spreading further. For this reason, please be very careful if you move a plant from your garden plot to your home garden, if you have one. Also, be careful when you get plants from friends. If you clean the soil from the roots of the plant before taking it away, you’ll probably get rid of the worm cocoons. Here’s an informational site at the State Department of Natural Resources: https://dnr.wi.gov/topic/Invasives/fact/jumpingworm/index.html

WOOD CHIPS – Our gardeners have discovered the piles of wood chips at both gardens, and have been using them enthusiastically. This is good. Unfortunately, they’re all gone now. But yes, we will definitely get more. There isn’t a schedule for this – they’ll be delivered when UW Grounds cuts down more trees. We may have to wait a bit. But we will get more – probably lots more.

WORKDAY THIS WEEKEND – We will have a workday this Sunday morning, June 10, at Eagle Heights, from 8am – 11am. The task will be clearing weeds from the raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries. Be sure to bring garden gloves – thistles are involved. I’ll send out the doodle poll link separately.

Happy Gardening,  

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