Help! For Gardeners

This part of the web is devoted to offering tips or help for gardening problems that I have had.  The suggestions offered worked for me, so, it is possible they will work for you.

Digging Dogs

Collect fresh "doggie poo" and place it around freshly planted or fertilized plants.  Your dogs will avoid the area.

Cane Borers (especially on roses)

This is a tough one and there is no permanent solution.  It does help, however, to make sure that when you cut back a rose, you put a dab of glue or other protectant over the wound.  This will prevent them from using this as an entry point into the cane.  Theoretically.  The jury is still out on this solution.

Fire Ants

I need help here, too.  I've never found a great solution.  While you can poison, boil and do all kinds of things to get rid of them, they will mostly just move around your yard.  The only reason I mention the following is so that I remember it.  

If you put down that black plastic mulch underneath your "normal" mulch to keep the weeds back, fire ants will simply adore you.  They love that stuff and it makes it very interesting when you are gardening because as you kneel down to do something, like pull a weed, you may find yourself kneeling on a nest that is beneath the plastic.  

They also like bricks and other firm edging material, planters, etc.

The common link is that the ants like things that give them protection from rain and/or critters walking on them.

So, if you have problems with fire ants, do not use black plastic mulch.  Avoid leaving large planters in one spot for too long, and avoid hard edging material.  Where you use these things (and I confess, I still do) then watch assiduously for signs of infestation and take whatever steps you deem necessary.  Above all - watch where you put your knees if you use plastic mulch!

Houseplant Bugs

If your houseplants have bugs, try this:

  • Take a piece of plastic wrap or tin foil and place it over the soil to hold it in place.  You can use a rubber band around the top of the pot to hold it, if necessary. 
  • Fill a sink or bowl with warm water and some mild detergent, such as Ivory, and swirl it around to get the water soapy.
  • Hold the plant upside down and submerge just the plant in the soapy water.  If the plant is not too fragile, sort of swish it so that all the leaves and stems are washed by the water.
  • If necessary, you may rinse it, if there is a lot of soap or soap bubbles on the plant.
  • Do this about once a week until the bugs are gone.

I have done with to get rid of mealy bugs on African Violets and other houseplants and it works very well and is much easier/quicker than the method of applying alcohol to the bugs with a Q-tip (I could never seem to get all the bugs, or rid of them totally, using this.)  It usually only takes two or three treatments to totally get rid of mealy bugs.

If you get soapy water on the soil, don't worry - it won't hurt the plant.  (I often do this with just my hand holding the soil and it works that way, too, and may be more effective if there are actually bugs in the soil, as well as on the plant.)

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Books by Amy Corwin
The Dead Man's View