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Monday, September 1, 2014

Pests That Harm Jalapeño Plants


There several pests that can harm your jalapeños, and I have encountered the most common ones in one go. I am determined to grow my peppers organically as much as possible, and I am so appreciative of the fact that I am a work-at-home mom able to take care of these plants on a whim whenever I need and want to. Because of this, I am able to catch these pests before they do some major damage on my crops. Here are the common pests that can attach your jalapeños and affect your plant drastically unless they are fully controlled and contained.


Aphids

I do not mind ants in my garden, unless they bite me or when they bring their milking buddies - the aphids. These little buggers attack the most tender spots of your plant, which are new buds, inside flowers, and beneath the leaves. They suck the sap of the plant, causing new flowers to dry up (happened to me now several times) and deformed leaves. They are loved by ants because of the juice they give off, so if you notice ants congregating inside a flower bud, be worried because the aphids are just inside, sucking all the juices that they can. I have two deformed jalapeño peppers growing, and I know that these guys are to blame.

Spider Mites


I always make it a habit to look beneath the leaves, and I know instantly when something is wrong. Take for example the spider mite. They live in colonies, often in webs that cause the leaves to stick together. The webs are denser, thicker, finer, and coarser compared to a real spider web. As they feed off the plant, the leaves will show signs of coarse spotting, with the leaves eventually getting tough and dry, causing it to fall off. These mites are very small, yet sneaky. Sometimes, a gardener will only see the damage to the plant once the numbers have increased to the point of infestation.

Whiteflies


I used to love these little white flies as a kid because I thought of them as cute little butterflies, and I often frown at my mother for shooing them away from her garden. I did not realize until I got into a gardening blog stint that these white flies weaken plants by sucking plant juices. Aside from that, these flies secrete honeydew, a sugary, sticky substance in which black fungus thrive in. Whiteflies also spread viral diseases between plants, so if you have plant that is sick, there's a chance that your jalapeño will get infected as well.

Why Do They Stick to My Jalapeño?


All these pests thrive in a warm, humid environment, so an enclosed space with poor air circulation will be an ideal environment for these pests to proliferate. Soil particles on the leaves also attribute to spider mite increase, including a growing medium high in nitrogen content.

How Do I Control These Pests?


All these three pests can be controlled several ways without the use of insecticides. I never used insecticides on my plants because bees and birds are dying at an alarming rate due to insecticide exposure. There are other natural ways to help control these pests without resorting to harmful means.

Rubbing Off

Once you see a collection of these pests on the underside of the leaves,  use the tips of your thumb or forefinger to gently scrape them off. Make sure that your jalapeño is not wilted so that the leaves are firm. You can also use a soft cloth, leaf, or sponge to do this.

Cold Water

These pests love hot weather,  and dousing your jalapeño with cold water can do the trick of driving them out.

Water The Soil Directly

Overhead watering can result to soil particlesnto be splashed upwards. Use drip irrigation, or place the tip of the hose or watering can as close to the soil surface as possible to avoid unnecessary splashing.

Introduce Predatory Insects

Lady bugs, green lacewing, and predatory mites can be bought in your local garden store. These beneficial insects just love to feed on these pests,  and a good population can certainly help control the infestation. Attract more of these beneficial insects by planting yarrow, cosmos, allium, french marigolds, thyme, dill, and oregano near your jalapeño.

Fish Emulsion

Spraying your jalapeño with fish emulsion once a week will help make the leaves undesirable for these pests to live in.


Do Water Stress On A Minimum Basis

We all know that a stressed jalapeño plant will produce the hottest peppers with the most amazing flavor. But if you notice that the infestation is getting worse or not improving, then keep the water stressing sessions to a minimum, or stop it until the pests are totally eradicated.

Improve Air Circulation And Sun Exposure

The best thing about container gardening is that you can move your jalapeño anywhere without causing undue stress. Place your jalapeño in a sunny location with good air circulation to prevent these pests from latching on, especially whiteflies. Move other plants away as well to help improve air circulation. If you are growing your jalapeño indoors, an oscillating fan as well will do quite well, along with a yellow light to help  attract and zap these pests without harming beneficial ones.

Organic Pesticides

Spray made with garlic or neem oil will be perfect to get rid of these pests. You can buy them, or just make your own at home with the use of mineral, garlic, or neem oil. There are also some organic insecticide soaps that can be useful if you find that the infestation is getting out of control.



Pull It Out

There will be instances when you will miss a leaf or two during your inspection, resulting to a significant number of pest population. Happened to me several times, and the only way to save my jalapeño is to take the leaves off and trash them. Do not be afraid of cutting off a branch or two if the spider mites have created an intricate network of webs.  These webs are already sheltering a massive colony of spider mites, so the need to sacrifice buds and peppers must be done to save the plant.  And if you find a plant near your jalapeño that is heavily infested, you have to pull it out. Sadly,  you have to do the same with your jalapeño if your control efforts are not showing any results,  or if the infestation is already heavy.

Note: do not put the infested leaves and plants in your compost pile. These insects are carriers and they can contaminate your compost pile, causing spread of disease. 

Hose Them Down

Did you stake your jalapeño? Is it secure?  Then have fun in the garden and get ready to have fun in your garden and blast these pests away! Sure a couple of flowers might fall off, but that's a small price to pay once you see your jalapeño all nice and pests free. I got lucky and had a gusty thunderstorm that did just that. Whatever mites and aphids I missed,  the heavy rain and strong winds took care of them for me.

These simple solutions will guarantee the health and safety of your jalapeño, and they will also work with other plants in your garden that are infected. If you know of other methods, of if any of these methods have given you possitive results, please do share it with us by using the comment section below.

Good luck, and happy gardening!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

How Wolves Changed The Yellowstone National Park



Let's have a break from our usual gardening blogs, and marvel at just how much nature can adapt to the presence of a wonderful and much maligned predator: the wolf.

Wolves have been gone from the Yellowstone National Park for more than 70 years. Because of this, the number of herbivores, specifically deer, have increased so much that vegetation became almost non-existent in the valley. But when the wolves came back to Yellowstone, a dramatic change is seen, starting from the food chain down to the geography of the park.

Wolves, though few in numbers, are effective hunters. With just a small pack, the wolves were able to control the number of deer in the park, giving the valley better opportunities for vegetation to grow. Since vegetation has started growing and trees have developed, beavers, birds, mice, rabbits, foxes and more have started to gather inside the park.

And remarkably, the diversified ecosystem has also changed the geography of the land. Rivers run in fixed courses, with several water spots suitable for animals to take their fill of much needed water.

It's amazing how nature can have wonderful changes with just the presence of one mighty predator. Watch the video and see just how dramatically the majestic wolf has changed the beautiful Yellowstone National Park.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Video Update: My Jalapeño Fruits



I now have several buds that will give me a satisfactory harvest. One bud (if I do this right) will be enough to make my salsa heat the room up with some flavor. I haven't watered the plant yet as it got quite a drenching yesterday. Now, the sun is shining brightly and I am patiently waiting for the fruits to mature. The big first one started from a flower that wilted August 11 (I think), so I am hoping a week more will be enough for a harvest.... but since the tip is still pointed, I guess I will just have to wait for 2 weeks more.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Protection Against Monsoon



Aside from the anxiety over our house in Pasig, I am also fretting over the effects of the monsoon over my jalapeño. I have been planning on placing a tarp of some sort to help control the amount of water that is pouring in to the flower box, so I used some of the leftover plastic cover from my daughter's school supplies. I tied it up on top of the stake for the tomato plant, and sweeped it over the marigolds. I made sure that there is ample space for air to circulate through the plants, as I do not want pests and fungus to waste all my efforts on keeping my jalapeño flourishing. I already have 11 jalapeños to count, and I am greedy enough to want more.

Needless to say, this cover is only good against heavy rains. I need to figure out something to protect my jalapeño against heavy winds.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Bokashi Composting

All Seasons Bokashi System
with bokashi bran
Bokashi composting takes home composting to a new level. A Japanese term meaning “fermented
organic matter” or “shading off,” bokashi uses live microorganisms to ferment food waste including meat and dairy into organic material that full of nutrients and microbes that are beneficial to organic gardens. Unlike regular kitchen composting, bokashi is an anaerobic method that will safely and effectively process kitchen wastes such as:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Grains
  • Coffee grounds
  • Tea bags
  • Egg shells
  • Prepared foods with no oil
  • *Meat
  • *Fish
  • *Bones
  • *Plant clippings
  • *Bread
  • *Eggs

*composted sparingly

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Food On Demand


Nothing is more satisfying visually than to see a garden flourishing with crops that will soon bring food at your table. The picture above shows a healthy and prolific bitter gourd (ampalaya in tagalog) overpowering the ornamentals that have been in the yard for a year. This crop is not mine, but planted by my in-law through her helper. If you look closely,  you will see just right off the center a moringa (malunggay) plant. If you walk through this jungle and jumble of plants,  you will be greeted by the most amazing fresh scent of bitter gourd.

Oregano vs Nematode

I am waging war against nematodes, and the best solution that I have unknowingly experienced is the Philippine oregano. With the flower boxes ignored for seveal years, the herb has made the soil unfit for nematode reproduction because it is resistant to the parasite like a rock.

The Philippine oregano grow like weeds in our area. Just stick it into the soil, drench it with water,  and it will grow like mad. And drenching the soil can also be a good thing for nematode control because the parasite cannot stand too much moisture


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