Garden Work, Seeds, Farmer Ants

Today I worked in the garden, I have been getting the sweetest tasting cherry tomatoes from my garden, they almost don’t have a chance to get into the cabin, I eat them almost as fast as I pick them. I believe I took care of the problem I was having with bloggom end rot (EDIT that should be blossom end rot, not bloggom end rot, a Freudian slip?), the tomatoes that already had the start of blossom end rot of course couldn’t be saved (I tried to cut the rot off, but the rot seemed to go quite a way through). The tomatoes that were still green, are now turning red with no sign of blossom end rot.
I went out and gathered seeds from the plants that I have let go to seed. I got a quart baggie full of raddish seed pods, one full of sweet peas and another half full of spinach seeds. I left the peas and the raddishes inside the pods, they are completely dry, later on this winter, when the weather prohibits me from going outside, I’ll liberate the seeds from their pods. For now, they will be just fine. As I picked these seeds, I removed the spent plants, for now I just tossed them into the corner, procrastination gets me, I know… I’ll work on them later… While I was seeding the spinach, I noticed one leaf that looked different from the other leaves, then it moved, it had legs, it was a praying mantis, about 3 inches long. I took it and tossed it along with the spent plant into the corner. I was saving it’s life, I was going to do some spraying later, and the spray was going to contain soap, I wanted to kill out the grasshoppers, not the mantis. While I was seeding the plants, I noticed a multitude of black ants drawling on my okra plants, not on anything else, upon closer inspection, it seems that the ants were doing a bit of farming themselves, they were “keeping” aphids. On several of the larger okra leaves, the ones with the most ants crawling on them were incrusted with aphids on the bottom. The ants actually bring the aphids to the plants, protect them, they harvest the liquid that the aphids exude, it’s a waste product from sucking the juices from the plants, the exuded liquid is sweet and the ants love it. My okra hadn’t started to really suffer, yet, if I hadn’t caught it, they might have gotten weak, diseased and would have given me fewer okra pods. Eventually the ants would have moved the aphids to other plants. 
I made up a mixture for a spray, I didn’t really measure anything, I poured about a capfull of mouthwash (generic Listerine type, plain-not flavored), a handful of Epsoms salt (magneseum), about 2 handfulls of powdered milk (calcium), and I poured maybe, 4-5 tablespoons of moleasses (too many good things to list) and a hard squirt of Ivory liquid dish soap into a 1 gallon pitcher, I added about half a gallon of water and mixed everything with my hand until I couldn’t feel anything else in the liquid, then I filled it up the rest of the way. I have a pump sprayer, it’s small, I was able to fill it 4 times with the gallon of liquid. I took this and sprayed all of my plants in the garden, as I sprayed different insects began to squirm and try to get away. Grasshoppers, various catepillars, ants and aphids were all under attack! The soap is lethal to the bugs, it also lowers the surface tension of the water and allows the liquid to stick to the plants and bugs. I had planned on applying diatomaceous earth after that, but I couldn’t locate my duster pump, it’s not in the last 2 places I had seen it, so I will have to figure out where it is located and dust the garden later. Procrastination? Maybe… :)


2 Responses

  1. Belwether
    The spray is along the lines of Jerry Baker's recipes and Howard Garrett (the Dirt Doctor) recipes, more leaning toward Jerry's stuff, if you don't know about them, look them up by name.

    I haven't yet gone out and checked the garden since I sprayed yesterday, I'll see just how well the formula did, specifically on the ants & aphids, I'll post a report on it later. :)

    At any rate, nothing I put in the mix is harmful to the plants in those concentrations.


  2. I like your insect spray recipe – There does not appear to be anything harmful in the mix – I normally do not spray at all, But I think that I’ll try your mix before the garden season ends.


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