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Personal blatherings, living simply, gardening, cooking, canning, dehydrating, knitting, spinning and more.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

I have worms... (Black Thumb of Death Gardening)

Edit: I have imported this from my The Black Thumb of Death Gardening Blog to my regular blog...  

That title got your attention, no?

Really they are larvae from the fungus gnat. I cannot remember if I mentioned I was having a heck of a time with gnats when the seedlings were all in my craft room. I put up the nasty fly strips, hanging them from the ceiling. I thought it took care of the problem. What I did not know is that each one of them laid a lot of eggs in the potting soil. I noticed a seedling was "gone". Completely disappeared. I gently dug around with a bamboo skewer, just under the top of the soil, and up came clear and slightly whitish larvae.

I first sprayed with Ecosmart, an organic garden spray that is made of various herbal essential oils. They slowly died. I spritzed all my plants, even outside where I found some in the soil near the banana pepper plants.

I got online and searched, finding out what they are. Some replies when people asked what they were rather arrogant and flippant, but I kept reading through. Bti, which you can get from mosquito dunks by soaking them in a bucket of water, and beneficial nematodes (which have to be ordered), were two of the mentioned items that would eradicate them.

I found another safe cure that is cheap if I had any on hand- 1 part hydro-peroxide (3% solution) mixed with 4 parts water and watering the plants with it. I am, of course, all out of the hydro-peroxide.

The gnats tend to appear if the soil was contaminated and brought in or if you over-water. Yep, the latter. I am new to this and, well... I goofed but corrected that. (I also got a watering meter to help me out.) Too late it seems. The rich, fertile soil became to over moist, fed the gnats and I got worms (larvae).

Guess what they say? Let the soil dry the first 2-inches down. The seedlings would die, if they make it as it is. Their roots were gnawed, to what point I will not know until tomorrow. I will change out the dirt and planter cups and give the first very light watering of the peroxide mix, then the Bti in a day or two. If everything makes it, cool. If not, treat all the area as I mentioned or get the nematodes, treat and start again. The dirt will go into a black plastic bag and "baked" in the sun... if it ever gets hot.

Lessons learned about watering and gnats. Most of the plants outside seem fine, but I am going to make sure anyway.  It is raining, making the soil very moist. Tomorrow is supposed to bring very heavy rain. I will have to wait to treat the outside for a day or two? It is a common problem for greenhouse-raised plants and those plants grown inside. I would of never guessed a gnat could be so destructive. My knowledge grows.

This is the garden as of yesterday.

Trellises are up. The plants seem to be doing well, even with the possibility of having larvae to eradicate. The onions and garlic have peeped up and the spinach is really taking off. The strawberries are the happiest of all.

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