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Antelope Valley TreeFarm  

Bug and plant problem solver
(we hope)

Hard to find info on insects and hydroponic garden pests and where to find the solutions, addresses, phone #, and E-Mail .

Pest Control / Deer, rabbits and other herbivores / BETTER GROWTH AND DISEASE PROTECTION / Aphids / Fungus Gnats / Spider Mites / Snails & Slugs / Thirps / White Flies / Bio-Cozyme

      Indoor plant growers have always been threatened by infections and pests. Most people are hesitant to use commercial pesticides because of fears about residues on the plant, leaving growers with few options and difficult choices. In the last few years this has changed. The federal government has required re-registration of virtually all chemical pesticides. Many have been dropped from registration and others modified so that less is used. This has spurred the development of new methods of pest control. "Integrated pest management" is the new byword.
      Instead of reliance on massive amounts of toxic chemicals, strategies include physical disruption, fire, hormonal attractants and baits, companion planting, repellents and encapsulated baited poisons. Of more interest to us are new technological developments using non-toxic, ecologically friendly chemicals, microorganisms and insects for plant protection. These products offer convenience and reliability in preventing and dealing with plant disease and pests. All of the products listed here can be used on fruit and vegetable crops and are compatible with organic gardens.


STERILIZERS       Both organic and hydroponic growers face the problem of replacing or cleaning the medium after each crop. Usually potting mixes and rockwool are replaced while clay pebbles are washed. These measures are taken to prevent cross-generational spread of disease. Some new products have been scaled down to give gardeners the same tools once available only to large greenhouse growers, and several new chemicals for greenhouse sterilization don't pose the same environmental or toxicity problems as pesticides or chlorine.
      Electric Soil Sterilizer: This unit holds a cubic foot (about 7.5 gallons) of soil or other planting medium. It works using heat controlled by a thermostat with a range of 100-200oF. At 160oF the material is pasteurized, which kills most harmful organisms, but not beneficials. "Sterilization," which kills most organisms and weeds, occurs at 180o. It takes about 30 minutes for sterilization once loaded. It is rated at 500 watts or 4-1/2 amps, weighs 27 Ibs and costs $280 from:
Charley's Greenhouse Supply,
(800) 322-4707;
Web site:www.charleysgreenhouse.com.



      Physan 20 (TM) is a broad-spectrum disinfectant made from a salt, double quaternary ammonium chloride. It leaves no residue and breaks down into nitrogen, which plants use. It can be used as a soil drench and to sterilize trays, walls and equipment. It can also be used to prevent seedling and plant diseases when it is placed in the irrigation water. Physan 20 has been used for over 25 years and is considered very safe. It can be used in the same way as Zero Tolerance (described below). It is excellent for clean-up between crops and sterilizing irrigation water, and can be sprayed on plants to kill pathogens. A pint costs $12 from:
Maril Products, Inc.,
620 South E St. Suite A, Tustin, CA 92780;
phone: (800) 546-7711.
http://www.physan.com/


      Zero Tolerance(TM) can be used as a one-time soil sterilizer or as a water additive to keep the water sterile. It is a solution of hydrogen superoxide (HO2), which is a very powerful oxidant. When this chemical comes in contact with insects, eggs, bacteria or viruses, it oxidizes them. It can be used to wipe down trays, pots, walls or any other pathogen containing surface. It sterilizes used soil and other planting mediums when used as a drench. Zero Tolerance cannot be used with any of the biologicals mentioned below, but is convenient to use instead of bleach or hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) for sterilizing equipment and media before planting. It takes about two days to degrade to water and oxygen.       With Zero Tolerance, people use the sterilization approach to plant protection. Rather than using friendly organisms, they keep the water and plant surfaces pathogen-free by adding small amounts to all irrigation water. This is one approach, but probably a more difficult one than introducing friendly microorganisms as plant protectors. It can be used in fog and misting systems to stop the spread of bud rot by killing the mold and spores. A little goes a long way; 2-1/2 gallons costs $110 from :
BioSafe Systems,
(888) 273-3088;
Web site: www.biosafesystems.com.



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PEST CONTROL
The pests which are most likely to attack plants indoors are aphids, fungus gnats, mites, thrips and whiteflies. Outdoor plants are subject to being munched on by rabbits, deer, rodents, caterpillars, slugs and snails, as well as insect attacks. Organic growers have an arsenal of insects and plant-pest predators to choose from. Here are some of the pests and their controls:

Return to top      Aphids are prolific pear-shaped insects, 1/16" to 3/8" long. They come in many colors, including white, green, pink, red, yellow and black. They mature in seven to 10 days and start birthing live young. They suck the plant juices and are often herded by ants, which milk them for the "honeydew" or sugar concentrate which they release.

     Aphidius colemani is a tiny non-social parasitic wasp which lays its eggs in living aphids. The adult wasp emerges from the aphid's mummy in two weeks ready to mate and start laying eggs. It prefers temperatures below 80F. One introduction is all that is required. $24. + shipping from :
IPM Labs,
(315) 497-2063;
e-mail:ipmlabs@baldcom.net



      Aphidoletes aphidimyza is a predatory midge.The midge lays about 250 eggs over a 10-day period near aphid colonies. The bright orange larvae, about 1/10" long, eat 10 aphids but attack many more. Then they pupate in the soil, emerge as adults and lay eggs. Predatory nematodes kill them and they don't do well in hydroponic mediums. The total cycle takes about three weeks. One release of 250 midges is enough to get the colony started. The insect goes dormant during flower-forcing with 12 or fewer light hours. IPM Labs ships the "ready to eat" midge larvae for $27 + shipping. Adults ready to lay eggs are available (250 predators for $25) from:

Nature's Control, Nature's Control,
PO Box 35, Medford. OR 97501;
phone: (541) 899-8318;
e-mail:e-mail Natures Control



      Aphidius matricariae is a small wasp that parasitizes aphid pupae by laying one egg in each aphid. The adult wasp emerges from the mummified aphid and starts parasitizing 200-300 aphids. Its life cycle is about three weeks. This insect does not provide total control but works well with aphid predators. Recommended use is one parasite per 3 sq. ft. One release will start the colony. Outdoors the release rate is 5,000 per acre; 500 parasites cost $59 from

Nature's Control,
PO Box 35, Medford. OR 97501;
phone: (541) 899-8318;
e-mail:bugsmc@teleport.com



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Deer, rabbits and other herbivores

     Deer, rabbits and other herbivores can be a vexing problem for outdoor gardeners. During early spring, when there is little vegetation available, young plants are especially vulnerable. In addition, some predators develop a taste for garden vegetables. Keeping these predators away can be a daunting task. In a four-year study at Rutgers University, researchers found that Deer Off was the most effective preparation at deterring deer. An added benefit is that the product also deters squirrels and rabbits. The product is EPA-approved and is praised by environmentalists. The spray uses two deterrents, smell and taste. It is made from eggs, hot pepper and garlic. It is safe for both humans and pets and is environmentally friendly. An application lasts several months and is not washed away by rain. A pint bottle of ready-to-use spray costs $10 from:
Deer Off, Inc.,
1127 High Ridge Rd., Suite 204,
Stamford, CT 06905;
phone: (800) 333-7633,
Web site: www.deer-off.com.



Return to top      Fungus gnats are tiny black flies which hover near the planting medium. Their larvae feed on dead organic matter. They are vectors for plant diseases and should be eliminated from the indoor garden. There are several biological controls for this.
     Gnatrol(TM) is a strain of bacillus thuring/ensis which attacks only fungus gnats. The bacteria are mixed in water and applied to the medium weekly, three times. It kills the larvae, so the gnats are eliminated over several weeks, as the adult population dies off. $39 + shipping from:
IPM Labs,
(315) 497-2063;
e-mail: ipmlabs@baldcom.net



      Nemasys(TM) is a strain of predatory nematodes which attack the larval stage of the gnat's life-cycle. One pack of 50 million nematodes covers an area of 3,600 sq. ft. The nematodes should be introduced weekly for three consecutive weeks to eliminate infestations. Contact:
Bioscape, Inc.,
4381 Bodega Ave. Petaluma, CA 94952;
(707) 781-9233;
Web site: www. bioscape.com.



      Scanmask(TM) is Steinernema feltros, a hybrid strain of nematodes which uses chemical cues to find its prey. The nematodes enter the insect and release bacteria which kill it. The nematode feasts on the multiplying bacteria. It is available as a spray which can be watered into the medium or as a granular to be mixed into the medium. One application is all that is needed, as the nematodes are persistent. $29 + shipping from: IPM Labs,
(315) 497-2063;
e-mail:ipmlabs@baldcom.net



Return to top     To destroy spider mites, Stethorus punctillum is a type of tiny ladybug that eats both eggs and hatched spider mites. Each bug eats about 40 mites a day and many more eggs. About 100 bugs are needed to get a colony going.100 bugs cost $67 from:

Nature's Control,

PO Box 35, Medford. OR 97501;
phone: (541) 899-8318;
e-mail:e-mail Natures Control



Return to top      Snails and slugs can be controlled using Sluggo, a new environmentally friendly blend of bait and iron phosphate. The snails are attracted to the bait. They stop feeding immediately and die within a few days. The active ingredient, iron phosphate, decompos es naturally in the soil. Two Ibs, enough for about 5,000 sq. ft., cost $90 from:
Bioscape, Inc.,
4381 Bodega Ave. Petaluma, CA 94952;
(707) 781-9233;
Web site: www. bioscape.com.



Return to top      Thrips are plant feeders which feed on leaves, leaving a trail of damaged tissue and fecal matter. They are so small that they can barely be seen. They mature after seven to 10 days and lay 200-250 eggs, so their populations increase quickly. The larvae feed on leaves. Orius insidiosus, the minute pirate bug, is a small insect that pierces thrips with its mouth and sucks out their liquids. They reproduce quickly, every 10-20 days, and quickly decimate the adult population. Available from:
IPM Labs,
(315) 497-2063;
e-mail:ipmlabs@baldcom.net

Nature's Control, Nature's Control,
PO Box 35, Medford. OR 97501;
phone: (541) 899-8318;
e-mail:e-mail Natures Control



Return to top      Whiteflies are tiny (about 1/32" long), four-winged white-colored flies which are easily seen fluttering about disturbed vegetation. Whiteflies have four distinct stages: the egg, a crawler which settles down to become an immobile scale, which goes through several stages, maturing as the white fly. After about three weeks the adult whitefly emerges, ready to eat and start laying eggs. After the eggs hatch, all stages feed by sucking plant juices, which slows plant growth and is a disease vector. Encarsia tormosa is a tiny non-social wasp which feeds only on whiteflies. The adult female feeds on whitefly scales and lays hundreds of eggs, each one parasitizing a whitefly scale. These wasps are very effective but go into dormancy under a forcing regimen. Three to six weekly introductions are suggested at the first sign of infection. $15 per 1,000 from :
IPM Labs,
(315) 497-2063;
e-mail:.ipmlabs@baldcom.net

Nature's Control, Nature's Control,
PO Box 35, Medford. OR 97501;
phone: (541) 899-8318;
e-mail:e-mail Natures Control


      Delphastus pusillus is a tiny black ladybug, 1/32" long, that eats all stages of whitefly. Each beetle eats 10 scales or 150 eggs daily, which quickly controls the whitefly population. Only one introduction should be required. Available from IPM Labs,
(315) 497-2063;
e-mail:ipmiabs@baldcom.net.

Nature's Control, Nature's Control,
PO Box 35, Medford. OR 97501;
phone: (541) 899-8318;
e-mail:e-mail Natures Control


      Nature's Control also sells two kinds of predatory nematodes, Stein ernema feltiae and Heterorhabditis heliothedis, both species of tiny worms. They attack and kill almost all soil-dwelling insects. The company recommends reinoculation every six weeks, but they usually eliminate the problem so that no reintroductions are needed. Some gardeners use them to attack foliage pests, but they probably are not persistent at that. One million of the worms, which come on a sponge, treats up to 2,500 sq. ft. They are rinsed into water from the sponge and then sprayed, watered or irrigated into the medium. One million nematodes cost $16.


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BETTER GROWTH AND DISEASE PROTECTION

     Gardeners have an arsenal of friendly microbes they can use to protect their crops from pests and disease. These organisms use plant pests as their food source and quickly dispose of the problem. Their diet does not include larger organisms, so they are completely safe and harmless to us and our pets. Many of these products are used to prevent disease rather than cure it. Their presence acts somewhat like a vaccine; they attack invading disease organisms.
      Plants live in a symbiotic relationship with certain bacteria and fungi. These organisms promote plant growth by making nutrients more available to the plant. They also often settle as plant protectors by blocking sites that pathogens would use to attack. Some of the micro-organisms actively attack pathogens. They are specific to other micro-organisms, so they don't cause infections in higher animals. These are all registered for vegetable use and are a pure form of organics, using living organisms to keep other organisms under control.


Return to top     BIO-COZYME is a concentrated micro-biological biostimulant and soil innoculant. The spray-dried powder contains various free living soil microbes and their food reservoir. The biomass, which it provides, enhances metabolic activity, facilitating a more complete and balanced nutrient assimilation by the plant. The microbes appear to work in a synergistic manner with the plants as well as other metabolic and enzymatic activities to increase the nitrifying, nitrogen fixing and native micro-organisms, providing benefits resulting in increased availability of nitrogen trace minerals potassium availability and total soil phosphorus (strong Bray P) by solubilizing P from the active soil reserve. Made by:
     BENEFICIAL BACTERIA:      BIO-COZYME increases the nitrifying, nitrogen fixing and native micro-organism population by nitro-bacteria, which have the ability to fix nitrogen from the atmosphere and activate soil reserves of chemical nitrogen. Phospho-bacteria stimulate release of both soluble and phosphorus and immobilized phosphorus (strong bray) by microbial activity.
      CYTOKININS: BIO-COZYME provides a source of naturally occurring plant hormones that augments the plant's own production. Actively growing roots product their own cytokinins that interact with auxins and gibberlins to promote growth and development of roots and tiller buds. Under optimum condition, the plant's natural supply is usually sufficient to maintain vigor. However during stress from the environment temperature moisture, herbicide, fungicide or nutrient unbalances, the plant's own production is significantly diminished.
GROW MORE
Gardena CA 90248
www.growmore.com


      Bio-Plox is a liquid bio-stimulant consisting of vitamins, enzymes, hormones, micronutrients and growth regulators. It encourages root growth and plant vigor. Its ingredients include a ferment of fish and ascophyllum nodosum kelp, cold-processed kelp, humic acids, chelated iron and zinc and a soil and tissue penetrant. The manufacturer claims that this is a superior product because the penetrant allows the nutrient to be absorbed much more easily and quickly by the plant. This makes plants more resistant to stress and disease and creates an environment at the root level which encourages the growth of beneficial microbes. It allows more efficient absorption of nutrients, so less fertilizer is required. One gallon goes a long way and costs $120 from :
Turf Chemicals Plus, Inc.,
2213 Huber Dr., Manheim, PA 17545;
phone (800) 441-3573.


      Eco Sane(TM) is an "enzymic activated stabilized biologic catalyst." It promotes increased plant growth and yield, as well as increased tolerance to stress, especially in cold conditions. It has increased production on many crops from 20-500% when used every two to four weeks. It works directly on the plant as well as promoting beneficial microorganisms. Use one ounce in two or three gallons of water for every 1,000 sq. ft. One gallon is $42.50 from :
The EKMATM Companies,
PO Box 560186
Miami, FL 33256;
phone (305) 256-5456; fax: 256-0689.

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      Maxicrop is a product made from ascophyllum nodosum, Norwegian kelp. Kelp contains large amounts of trace elements, as well as hormones, enzymes and sugars which act as stimulants that encourage plant growth and health. In addition to working on the plant directly, it encourages beneficial microbial life. Supplementation with Maxicrop results in stronger plants more resistant to stress. The enzymes encourage stronger root growth and more vigorous leaf growth. The supplement is added to the water periodically. One gallon of liquid costs $17; 10.7 oz. powder, which makes 1 gallon of liquid, costs $13. Available from:
Maxicrop, U.S.A., Inc.,
PO Box 964,
Arlington Heights, IL 60006;
phone: (800) 535-7964;
Web site: www.maxicrop.com.


      Mycor Flower Saver(TM) is a mix of four strains of vesicular-arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi and growth-promoting bacteria with organic biostimulants. The fungi develop a symbiotic relationship with the roots, providing them with nutrients in return for sugars produced by the plant. This relationship promotes faster growth and enhanced resistance to stress and pathogens. The dry powder is mixed into the medium at the rate of 3 Ibs per 100 sq. ft. at planting. It can be used indoors or out. A six-pound box costs $40 from:
Plant Health Care, Inc.,
440 William Pitt Way,
Pittsburgh, PA 15238;
phone: (800) 421-9051;
Web site: www.planthealthcare.com.

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      PHC Biopak(TM) is a biostimulant containing several strains of bacteria which develop symbiotically with the roots. It promotes fast root development (which increases plant growth and uptake of fertilizer), increases bioactivity in the medium and reduces susceptibility to disease. A one-pound jar costs $25 from:
Plant Health Care, Inc.,
440 William Pitt Way,
Pittsburgh, PA 15238;
phone: (800) 421-9051;
Web site: www.planthealthcare.com.


      PHC Healthy Start(TM) 3-4-3 is derived from bone, blood and kelp meal, rice bran and other natural fertilizers. The formula, 3-4-3, is a good mix for starts and clones as it promotes rooting. The natural ingredients provide complete micronutrients for soil and soilless media. What makes this blend truly unique is the addition of nitrogen and phosphorus-dissolving bacteria, which make nutrients available to the roots as needed. Humic acid in the form of leonardite, a mined mineral, is added to encourage growth of beneficial microbes. As a result, plants are less likely to suffer from nutrient deficiencies. Less fertilizer is required because it is more available. Twenty-five pounds treats about 250 sq. ft. One treatment per crop is needed. Can be used indoors or outside. A 25-lb bag costs $15 from:
Plant Health Care, Inc.,
440 William Pitt Way,
Pittsburgh, PA 15238;
phone: (800) 421-9051;
Web site: www.planthealthcare.com.

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      RootShield is a biological fungicide which protects roots from pythium, rhizoctonia and fusarium, the fungi which cause root and stem rot as well as die-off in seedlings and clones. The fungus in RootShield quickly forms a barrier against pathogens and attack pathogens trying to break through. One application is all that is needed to "infect" the roots with this symbiotic organism, which feeds on nutrients secreted by the root system. Researchers think that pathogens are unlikely to develop resistance to this microbe.
      RootShield comes as a dry powder that is mixed with water and applied as a drench at them rate of 6 oz per cubic yard of medium, or as a granular for dry-dipping cuttings. It is sometimes mixed into the planting medium at the rate of 1 lb per cubic yard. The active ingredient is trichoderma harzanum strain T-22, developed at Cornell University. It is exempt from most regulations and is recommended for vegetables. It is non-toxic to humans, birds and other animals and safe to use around water sources. A one-pound bag costs about $37. It is not available from retailers but is sold by wholesalers, such as:
McCalif,
(899) 234- 4559.
For other suppliers, contact the manufacturer,
BioWorks, Inc.,
(800) 877-9443;
Web site: www.bioworksbiocontrol.com.



      Roots Transplant 1-Step is an enhanced 2-2-2 transplanting fertilizer. In addition to nutrients it contains 13 species of mycorrhizae, which colonize the roots and develop symbiotic relationships with them. Together they increase fertilizer absorption, bioactivity and resistance to disease. In addition, the powder contains a biostimulant to promote root growth and water-holding gel to increase water retention. One pound treats about 250 6" or 125 10" containers. Treat plants every 2-4 weeks. 25 Ibs cost $23 from:
Roots Inc.,
3120 Weatherford Rd.,
Independence, MO 64055;
phone: (800) 342-6173.

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