Tomato containers and Vikane fumigation --good or bad idea?

tuesdayschild(z10 CA, Sunset24)March 17, 2006

Hi all,

I have drywood termites (lots). And the biggest infestation of silverfish I've ever seen indoors. We are making arrangements to have the house fumigated and I have an odd question for you:

I have 6 large redwood planters for tomatoes (no dirt here, just decking) that have been just great for growing. I pulled the last of my winter crop last week with a nasty influx of tomato psyllids doing them in (can't complain too much since its March...) and I wanted to have some time off between the winter crop and the spring planting to let the nasties go away. (I've got favas in there now). I'm about to have the house tented and fumigated with Vikane gas (sulfuryl flouride and chloropicrin). Heat treatment is not recco'd in our circumstance and the "citrus oil" method has no decent stats on it, so I'm forced into the old fashioned method after much research. Given this, I am considering rolling my large containers under the tent to let the Vikane take out anything it can as long as they're doing this... to perhaps clear out any residual psyllid presence, etc. (not to mention the ant colony that moved into one of the 20 gal containers).

The termite companies I've interviewed swear that Vikane floats away and dissipates completely, leaving no residue -- as in, I can eat off the plates, etc. once they've left, however no FOOD can be left open lest it be contaminated... Hmmm. Leaves me wondering... Is the soil/redwood container/terracotta pot that I'm _growing_ my food in in two months likely to be contaminated by this stuff? Will the soil/redwood pass something nasty into my tomato plants that will have my family turning into mutants? Or is this a wonderful way to let my termite control also prep my container garden for next summer's crops?

Comments? Research? Suggestions? Weigh in! I have two weeks to decide to roll those pots in or out of the target zone and I'd love some ideas from others! --TIA

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suze9(z8b Bastrop Co., TX)

Suggestions? I wouldn't put them under the tent. Why? Because I'm not quite sure about what the long-term effects would be.

Might be okay -- might not.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2006 at 11:18PM
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farkee(Florida)

I think I would haul them in only if I thought the wood might be infested with termites. Even though redwood is resistant overtime weathered wood can apparently be infested.

Those chemicals are ones used in soil fumigation but obviously not the same rate, formulations, etc.
Some of these chemicals are being phased out and none of them are available to the homeowner to sterilize their soil.

I don't think psyllids have a cycle where they are in the soil anyway (?) and I would not go to all that trouble for ants. Just use boiling water or soap and water.

You could dump all the soil on a big tarp, add new compost, etc. and put the redwood containers in to be gassed.

I tend to agree with the technician but I am no expert so could not tell you to go ahead and do it. I pour boiling water (VERY CAREFULLY) in containers invested with nematodes --would not be prepared to do what you propose because it seems to be the antithesis of Integrated Pest Management gardening where you go for the least toxic methods first.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2006 at 3:19PM
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