17 February 2010
In The Garden With the Fluvanna Master Gardeners
By Irene C. Burke - Fluvanna Master Gardener
Fluvanna County Extension Office: 434.591.1950
Whats IPM? Inez Picotee Morris, a new celebrity tomato aptly named after the popular country-western singer? Ibid Premium Mulch created from redundant, recycled all natural materials? Or could it be the acronym for Integrated Pest Management (IPM)? Right. Its all about managing pests.
A pest is a living organism that harms the vegetation in your landscape and garden. Many pests also damage structures, fibers or anything else you need or value.
Some pests out-compete the organisms you regard as important, like the poison ivy that persists.
Pests spread disease; they sting and bite; make you sneeze and your skin erupt with itchy rashes. Some pests harbor lethal toxins in oily and milky excretions. Some pests are big like deer; some, small like aphids sucking the life from tender rosebuds.
Effective IPM involves a four-step, decisionmaking process designed to welcome beneficial organisms, create an uninviting environment for harmful pests, and maintain the natural balance with wise use of narrowly targeted controls.
Step one: Decide what level of infestation will need action. Look around your property, whether acres, patio or windowsill. What will trigger alarm? How much damage or nuisance can you or the plants tolerate?
Step two: Know your gardens residents. Some of the inhabitants may be innocuous, some beneficial. Accurately recognize and monitor the pest so that you take action at the right time with the right measure or take no action at all.
For the exotic hard-to-identify invader, contact your local Extension Agent and Master Gardeners. Keep an eye on pest levels. A single sighting should require no action.
Step three: Manage your environment to prevent the pest from gaining a foothold by using preventative cultural practices like crop rotation, mowing the lawn at 4 inches, pest-resistant plants, pest-free rootstock, reducing environmental stress like drought and flooding with right-plant-right-location, (some plants like wet feet, some dont) and planting to avoid the time of the pests most damaging activities (delayed seeding for squash, depriving the squash bug of its favorite food).
Step four: Youve been observing the situation and have clearly identified the pest but your plants tolerance for damage has been exceeded. All preventative measures have proven ineffective.
Now is the time to consider a control that offers low risk to you, all the other inhabitants of your garden and your neighbor.
Try mechanical controls first: Weeding, pruning out the infested branch, handpicking, physical barriers like toilet-paper rolls around seedlings, netting, and row covers, baits and traps.
Natural biological controls come next: Noxious repellants for deer, pheromones to disrupt insect mating, Bacillus thuringiensis (BT), and predator and parasitic insects. Then there are botanical insecticides like Pyrethrum, Rotenone, Ryania, and Sabadilla.
The last resort is the synthetic chemical, but be sure you understand the lifecycle of the pest so that the control is applied at the lowest effective dose at the time that the pest is most vulnerable in the narrowest area at the right time of the day and season.
Tip of the Week
Did you save seeds from last season? When stored in a cool, dark, dry, airtight container some seeds will still germinate after years of storage six years for lettuce, one year for parsley. For a lengthy list from asparagus to watermelon check the Virginia Cooperative Extension website at http://pubs.ext.vt.edu/426/426-316/426-316.html.
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