One of the things many folks don’t understand is that if they see small fungus gnats flying around their plants, these insects do have larval forms (really, really small worms) that can burrow into the roots and below-ground stems (in cuttings) of plants.
To make matters worse, it turns out these small larvae also carry Botrytis, Pythium, Fusarium, Phoma and Verticillium spores to infect your plants.
A quick organic control is to cover yellow sticky cards with Tanglefoot or other long-acting horticultural glue and lay them “horizontally” near the soil surface. The adults will land on the traps and be stuck (thus no egg-laying will happen).
If you have a basic hand lens, fungus gnat larvae are wormlike with a black head capsule and a white to transparent body.
There are two ways to easily control them besides the yellow sticky trap:
dry the cuttings out *once they have rooted* so the soil dries out but doesn’t wilt the cutting.
the second is to flood the cutting with insecticidal soap.
I’ve never killed a cutting with this flooding but your results may vary depending on what you’re propagating. And the same goes for mature plants – dry them out more because the adults are likely feeding on microscopic soil algae.
While castor oil has a lot of memories for older generations, it is now used by gardeners for purposes that your grandmother never knew about. The short and sweet version is that castor oil is produced from the castor bean plant (Ricinus communis) and while the bean is poisonous, the refined castor oil isn’t to humans.
Note it’s the seed coat of the castor bean that contains the bulk of the poison.
Another interesting fact is that this plant is the host for the Common Castor Butterfly.
Why We Use It
The oil does however have a peculiar smell that is hated by rodents such as voles and moles. There is some anecdotal evidence that squirrels, raccoons, skunks, and groundhogs also will avoid this fragrance. (As an aside, don’t bet the farm on voles not liking it)
Anytime the ground isn’t frozen.
Water the ground before you apply it and then again immediately afterwards for 15 minutes or so to drive the product into the ground.
You can also pick up smaller bottles of castor oil from drugstores and mix it at 4-ounces of castor oil per gallon of water with a dash of liquid soap (critical) to ensure it sprays and sticks to leaves.
Soak the area as much as possible (not just a light spraying but a very heavy dose, you want the spray to hit the ground)
Follow the watering directions above for the homemade product as well.
I don’t know if you’ve ever had a serious Gypsy Moth outbreak but I remember when they invaded the bush behind us. We had a “hot spot” and they darn near defoliated the entire bush until the spray planes hit them with Bt. You can argue about the use of this bacteria or not (there was nobody living down there) but it surely helped keep those acres of trees alive.
Here’s a websitethat brings you all the information you need (and constant updates) about this very destructive pest and how you can slow down the spread by watching what and how you move plants.
These deer resistant perennial flowers are not foolproof but they’re the best options we have.
I think we should get the bad news out of the way first when it comes to deer resistant perennial flowers.
And that is a hungry deer will eat anything. (So would you if you were hungry enough) The so-so news is that what works in my area and the deer won’t eat turns out to be the most favourite food in your area. Silly deer are no more consistent than people are.
The good news, however, is that we can sort through all the lists and articles, from one end of the continent to the other, to pick the plants that are commonly not eaten by deer. In other words, the plants on these two lists are your best bets. But (see above) a hungry deer will eat them too.
Tanglefoot or other horticultural glue is one of my biggest garden friends. This is a glue that doesn’t dry right away – has the consistency of putty, is really, really sticky and is an amazing little bit of hort “stuff”. And these homemade sticky traps are simply the easiest way to control insects in your garden.
I’ve used it:
Wrapping tape around the bird feeder poles to stop ants from crawling up and drinking all the hummingbird food.
Wrapping masking tape around the trunks of trees (above dog and kid height) and making sure there are no spaces under the tape – then coating the tape with glue so caterpillars (who come down during the day) can’t get back into the tree and their protective nests. You wind up with a mass of caterpillars on the ground and you can dispose of them (or stomp them or ??) in whichever way you like. But they can’t get into the tree.
Coating red balls with the glue and when wasps and other insects decide to land on the “ripe” apple, they get caught and insect damage is really lowered without spraying. These get really gross by the end of the season.
Coating yellow tags (the colour of anti-freeze jugs – a bright yellow) with the stuff and hanging it around home greenhouses, places where fruit flies get going, or out in the garden. Again, insects prefer the colour yellow (exception see below) and will fly to it and get stuck. These can reduce whitefly infestations by 90% with no spraying. Hang them or stake them every 4-6 feet throughout the garden if you have a problem.
Coating sky-blue plastic with glue attracts thrips. So if you have a lot of gladiola damage (streaking flowers) or other plant damage due to thrips (they also carry some viral diseases that wipe out flowering daisies) then these blue cards are beloved by thrips.
A bit of rubbing alcohol or other friendly solvent takes it off but it does stain clothes.
Do NOT put horticultural glue directly on the bark of trees.
I did this once with some chestnuts and it softened up the young bark. I always use a round or three of masking tape now and put the glue directly on the tape. This tape will last 1-2 years and is easily replaced (the glue hardens up over the winter and needs replacing yearly)
Update Re The Sticky Pages (Not this product)
Note this product is NOT the sticky pages you can lay down for mice and other rodents. Those are even more sticky than this product.
I do not recommend using those single page traps outdoors because they are strong enough to capture small birds. Use indoors for rodents but NOT outdoors.
A homemade recipe for deer repellent recipe is below. But, it comes with the usual caveat that deer are not easily deterred if they are hungry.
This is something I use in the garden in an effort to hold back the predation of my tulips from the deer herd that seems to use this property as a walkway along the shore.
Take a gallon of water and two spoons full of latex white paint.
The use of latex white paint is to use the spreader/sticker in the paint so you want to add only a bit to the water. We want it to be a very, very pale water – not a very thin paint. You could also use two tablespoons of liquid soap. The paint does let you see where you’ve sprayed and it does disappear very quickly
Add several eggs to the mix – up to a half dozen should be fine.
Blend. Apply to the plants to be protected as well as around the boundaries of the property. The egg mix will go rancid – which is what you want but you won’t smell it. The deer will.
They’ll avoid the area while the “fragrance” is new and fresh. So do plan on renewing this every week or two or after heavy rains.
Important Notes About Any Deer Repellent
Buy a new blender and keep the old one for the deer repelleant recipe-making. But I didn’t have to tell you that did I?
If you stop spraying or miss a spray – the deer will be back. I’ve been told that friends add other ingredients such as garlic oil, hot pepper juice etc. Things that change up the smell.
And they add a different product every time they spray to change that up as deer don’t like novelty in their environment.
Some folks don’t like to make their own so here’s one of the most popular commercial products called “Liquid Fence” that I’ve used successfully in my own garden with my personal deer herd.