YORKTON - As gardeners, we often need the patience of Job and the stamina of Rocky Balboa!
We need to tend our dear plants through all kinds of wind and weather, droughts, and extreme heat…nursing them along and patiently helping them to survive.
But then on the other side of the coin, we have to be donning our gardening armour and be like Rocky, meeting the blows of all kinds of plant diseases and pests.
A gardening friend, and expert gardener, was telling us about two pests that I have heard about many times but really knew nothing about: mealy bugs and white flies. So, time for some homework. We’ll start with mealybugs.
Mealybugs. Doesn’t the very name make your skin crawl? Mealybugs are sap-sucking insects; they’re white, fuzzy-looking pests, and they can cause a lot of damage to our plants, especially if they rally around into an infestation. They like warm, moist locations, so this year was right up their alley! Mealybugs cause plants to lose their leaves, and in serious case they can cause buds and vegetables to fall of the plant before they mature. So what do we do?
I’ve read that we can get rid of mealybugs by washing them away with stream of water, but this must be done carefully so we don’t damage the plant. We can’t turn on the garden hose full-blast! It must be done carefully. Insecticidal soap is also a good choice, on all parts of the plant including under the leaves, and the treatments may have to be repeated more than once. Or if you want to be adventurous and make your own insect spray, I found this recipe: combine I bulb of garlic, one small onion, and 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper. Mash in the blender, then mix it into a quart of water and let steep for an hour. Strain the mixture, add one tablespoon of liquid dish soap, and mix the whole thing well. Then, spray it thoroughly on all parts of the infected plants.
If you see mealybugs on a plant in a container, the plant must be separated from our other plants, and hopefully we can deal with it before the problem spreads. For smaller mealybug problems, we can use isopropyl alcohol on a q-tip and wipe the bugs away, but I read we can’t use more than 70% strength or it could burn the plant.
The best way to stop mealybugs is by have a nice, health plant. Where do these varmints come from? They can come when we bring in new plants, so be sure to check your new arrivals. And they will spread very easily in a greenhouse, so we must be ever-watchful.
Sadly, I read that if we try to treat the plant for several weeks and the problem persists, our only other alternative is to get rid of the plant. We’ll chat bout white-flies another time!
Gardeners, the Yorkton and District Horticultural Society will be holding their first meeting on Wednesday, September 20 at 7:00 PM at the Yorkton Public Library. Guest speakers will be Ed Sek and Keith Hayward talking about plants that will attract bees, pollinators and butterflies.
And make a note, too, that the Fall Plant and Bulb Sale will be held on Friday, September 22 at the Parkland Mall. Fall is a great time to add some new perennials to our gardens; there is time for the plants to settle in before winter comes. The Fall Plant Sale goes from 9:30 AM till 3:30 PM, or while plants last. I mention that because we had a lot of eager shoppers at our spring plant sale and were pretty much sold out before noon. Hope to see you there, bring a gardening friend!
Thank you to our friends at YTW for their fine work. Visit the hort society at www.yorktonhort.ca and have a great week!