New Garden!

HopFarmerApril 27, 2012

Hi everyone,

This is my first post, my first successful post anyway. I don't know what happened to the other one. I seem to be astoundingly incapable of successfully posting a message.

Anyway, I'm in Cedar Rapids IA and my wife and I just bought our first home last summer. Not only that, the previous owner had been aggressively composting for more than 10 years, so the soil quality is more than we could ever ask for.

The problem is this. Last year, we got absolutely blasted by Japanese Beetles. Does it do my garden any good to treat my lawn and trees when the neighbors do not? I can't help but think that they'll just fly the 6' from my neighbors back yard into my garden, regardless of how much milky spore I pour onto my own yard.

I haven't even began to think about what I'll do to protect my apple tree because it hangs over my neighbors yard and they have a beautiful old yellow lab, that I'd rather not poison, but that's a question that I'm sure a google search or two can answer.

Anyway, it's nice to meet all of you! I'm really excited to be part of the group. Be patient with me as this is my first year gardening since I was a little kid so I'll probably be a bit excitable with my posts this summer-ha!

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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Hi & welcome to Gardenweb. Congrats on your house and nice soil! Awesome! Look forward to reading about your adventures. I miss a few things about OH since moving to AL but japanese beetles are NOT one of them. Holes in leaves never bothered me much, but I've had them destroy a few things over the years. Good luck!

    Bookmark   April 27, 2012 at 9:17AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Hop, we hope to see you here often.

You are right in realizing that the treatment of only one yard in a whole neighborhood is not going to be helpful in preventing adult Japanese beetles in wreaking their havoc.

My best and favorite solution is a product that been a favorite of orchard owners for many years, but appears to be something of a secret to homeowners. It's completely safe, harmless to the environment, and has multiple benefits.

It's a kaolin clay product, specially manufactured to make a slurry in water that sticks to the plant's foliage, stems, and fruit creating a barrier that protect our plants against a huge list of plant pests...too many to list. It prevents the chewing and piercing/sucking critters, stem borers, egg layers, you name it. Since Japanese Beetles live for such a short time in most locations, one application just as you begin to see them on your apple tree may be enough for the entire season.

Other benefits include sun scald protection of fruits and vegetables, and prevention of excess moisture loss from crops with large leaves, such squash. It can increase the fruit quality of many fruits and vegetables. I used it on my tomatoes last year.

Surround WP does leave a whitish film on your plants...that's the clay. Some people might object to that on certain ornamental plants. I'd also not spray it on flowers that are visited by pollinators of any kind. But when you've got something that can prevent leaf miners, stem borers, grasshopper damage, etc., etc. temporary aesthetics concerns don't seem to matter much.

Regarding it's use...never mix up more than you will use in one application. The kaolin clay doesn't dissolve completely and can clog up your sprayer if not cleaned thoroughly after each use. So no mixing of big batches and storing in the garage until you use it all.

If you decide to try it, Surround WP can be found much more readily now than it used to be. Check out the local stores that are more apt to deal with products for the organic gardener. It's easily found on line.

Tell your dog owning neighbors before you spray it, and tell them that it is perfectly safe to use around the dog. As a matter of fact, it can be sprayed up to the day of harvest....just wash off the clay film.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2012 at 1:29PM
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Awesome! Thanks for your help. I was hoping that I wouldn't have to rely entirely on shaking them off by hand. I've heard from people I work with that you can spray veggies with Sevin if you give it a week or two before picking but that sounds disgusting. I already have one child with autism, I don't feel it would be an intelligent move to start slowly poisoning the rest of my family. Besides, it would pretty much defeat my initial purpose for starting this garden.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2012 at 8:09PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Not only is Sevin a hazard to all kinds of non-target critters (including humans), but the use of Sevin amplifies the population of pest insects and mites. Frankly, it's never a good idea to use Sevin.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2012 at 12:20AM
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Japanese Beetles, and some other insect pests, seem to erupt some years and not be much of a problem other years and you are right that you treating your yard will not do much to keep populations down if no one else does that. That, however, is no reason to not do what you can where you can.
The Koalin clay sprays have been very helpful in warding off many insect pests with much less environmental harm then many of the broad spectrum poisons, including many "organic" pest controls, do. However, due care in applying even this is necessary, and it is one part of a total insect pest control program that may include dormant oil sprays and providing some place for the predator insects to live and feed if there are too few pests around. There are some 8,000,000 insect species identified, at last count, and of those some 8,000 are considered pests and many of the "pest control" products will kill a very large number of them including the beneficials and pollinators. The Kaolin Clay sprays apparently disguise the plants so the insect pests cannot find them, but I would not go so far as to say it is perfectly safe.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2012 at 7:11AM
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"providing some place for the predator insects to live and feed if there are too few pests around"

Interesting. Is there an example of a way that you've done this in the past Kimmsr?

    Bookmark   April 29, 2012 at 11:00AM
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