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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Preventing Insect Pests for Next Season

Ozarks Gardening
Jim Long; 10/10/12

Bugs Coming Inside for Winter

I’ve not been prying into persimmon seed to see if there are spoons, forks or knives yet, to determine the kind of winter we’ll have, but if the invasion of bugs into homes is any indication, we may have considerably more cold this winter. Of course it wouldn’t do any good for me to open persimmons and pry open the seed as there’s no over-all agreement whether a spoon means a winter of plenty, or that it means you’ll be digging out of snow. Or that a knife means a sharp, cutting winter, or one with plenty, like spreading butter on bread.

Flies have been hanging onto the screens ever since the few nights of near-freezing temperatures, darting in at every opportunity. The Korean ladybugs have been finding their way inside and crawling behind baseboards to hibernate. I even saw a television story this week about scorpions making their way into houses, although I’ve not seen any evidence of that.

The local television photos of the scorpions made them look like they were the size of a person’s hand, when in actuality our local scorpions are closer to the size of a garden spider. In Thailand where I visited some time back, people collect their native, giant hand-sized scorpions and deep-fry them for snacks. I’m not ready to do that, but if you do have garden pests invading the house, the spider sticky-traps do a pretty good job of catching all kinds of unwanted bugs.

As far as the garden is concerned, October is a perfect time to clean up old dead plants and burn or dispose of them. Clean-up is especially important for tomato plants. Any of the tomato diseases you may have had to fight with this season, are likely still present in the dead tomato plants. They should be removed from the growing area and either burned or put in the trash and not left in the garden.

Now’s a good time, as well, to till the garden soil. Turning it over exposes grubs and insect pests’ eggs, allowing birds to eat the insects. Another tilling in mid-winter is a good idea, too, turning the soil over again to expose things like grasshopper eggs so they will freeze and not hatch so many next year.

Cover crops such as winter barley and annual vetch can still be planted. Buckwheat, which is a good nitrogen-fixing crop, does better if it’s planted earlier and has a good foothold before cold weather hits. Such kinds of cover crops are usually left until early spring then turned under to allow the material to decompose and add nutrients to the soil. That early tilling also accomplishes turning up insect eggs and exposing them to cold weather and birds.

Visit my garden adventures blog, too. http://jimlongsgarden.blogspot.com

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