Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Focusing on Drought Resistance Products for a Changing World

The world is getting hotter, and water is getting scarcer. US government agencies, such as the NCEI and NOAA, have declared that 2023 was the hottest average global temperature on record, with records dating back to 1850. 

Much of the American West faces water shortages, with important freshwater sources such as Lake Mead and the Colorado River being measured at record lows.

While it’s easy to feel like the world is changing in ways that are out of your immediate control, don’t let this keep you from finding peace in your garden. Don’t worry, we get it. Progress has been made to combat the effects of climate change, but these noticeable differences in our climate are here to stay. 

So even if you’re dealing with water rationing or prolonged periods of above average heat, there are ways to reduce drought stress on your plants. In our changing world, water is a powerful resource. Support your plants by giving them the tools to use water more efficiently and withstand environmental stressors.


LALSTIM OSMO

LALSTIM OSMO is an osmoprotectant that helps plants withstand drought conditions by improving their drought resistance. “OSMO” is derived from osmosis, which is the passive movement of water molecules from an area of high concentration to an area of low concentration through a semipermeable membrane. If you hated high school biology, don’t worry. Here’s the practical definition when it comes to gardening. If your plants are in drought conditions, water will naturally be drawn from your plant’s cells into the atmosphere because there is more water in your plant than in the surrounding air. 

Osmoprotectants such as LALSTIM OSMO increase the survival rate of plants in drought conditions by regulating the osmotic activity in the cell and allowing the plant to retain more water. Current research aims to create plants that will produce their own osmoprotectants through gene editing, but for now you’ll have to add osmoprotectants to your plants by spraying them with LALSTIM OSMO.

Interested in this product? Learn more and purchase here.



Hydretain®

This is a product that is applied directly to the roots of your plants. Spray it into the soil, and then water to force the Hydretain down towards the roots. This product optimizes the intake of water by your plant’s root system through proprietary humectants (substances that attract water), which minimizes drought stress. 

Hydretain first found use in large scale farms and golf courses where cutting water costs would save farmers and golf course owners significant amounts of money. Now, this product is finding a niche with small-scale growers and hobby gardeners who wish to reduce their water usage due to local shortages or just for the sake of being good environmental stewards.

Interested in this product? Learn more and purchase here.



Mikro-H2O

Like all of the products on this list, Mikro-H2O deals with managing water intake and helping your plants cope with an ever-warming world. 
What sets Mikro-H2O apart is its use of rhizobacteria to assist with water management. 

Rhizobacteria are commonly known for their nitrogen fixing capabilities, converting gaseous nitrogen into ammonia, and making necessary nitrogen accessible to plants. However, Bacillus amyloliquefaciens and Bacillus subtilis, the two types of rhizobacteria used in Mikro-H2O, also build biofilm around the root zone.This biofilm increases the surface area of the plant's root structure, which leads to improved water structure, less evaporation, improved nutrient availability, and reduced fertilizer drainage. 


Interested in this product? Learn more and purchase here.


Therm X-70®


Have you heard of the Mojave yucca?

This plant is native to the deserts of Southwest America. It survives in this harsh, dry climate through the use of saponin, which helps plants overcome water stress and increases the “stickiness” of applied fertilizers. Sometimes, the best way to help the plants in your garden adapt to dry and stressful conditions is to mimic plants that have evolved to live in deserts. 

Therm X-70 increases permeability in heavy clay soil while also reducing salt and alkalinity levels. If you’re panicking because your plants already are showing signs of heat damage, applying Therm X-70 to the stressed areas can yield immediate, noticeable results and put your garden on a path to recovery.

Interested in this product? Learn more and purchase here.

From Robin @ARBICO Organics

Friday, May 17, 2024

Squash Vine Borers – The Best Hide and Seek Players in Your Garden

Squash Vine Borer Larva
Squash vine borers have figured out how to drive gardeners and growers crazy. Their sneaky and hidden ways can devastate all your squash plants before you realize it’s too late. Even when you realize you have a problem, they are already inside the stems of your squash plants, and there is little you can do to save your plants.

However, there is hope in preventing them from destroying this year’s bounty of squash. This article offers proven, eco-friendly methods to prevent these pests from ruining your squash crops.

We’ll learn more about:
  • The life cycle of squash vine borers
  • Effective strategies to keep them out of our squash
  • Early detection techniques for better management

Let’s begin by exploring the life cycle of squash vine borers, which is key to effective management.

Squash Vine Borer: Lifecycle and Impact

Identification and Lifecycle

Adult Squash Vine Borer
Adults are colorful moths that emerge from the soil in the end of spring. The moths have metallic green forewings and clear hindwings that are often folded and tucked away when they land.

Females will lay their eggs in early spring at the base of squash plants. Approximately one week later, these eggs hatch, and the larvae immediately burrow into the plant stems. Inside, they begin consuming the core, disrupting water flow and causing the leaves to wilt. Severe damage can result in the death of the plant.

After feeding for 4-6 weeks, the squash vine borer drills a hole out of the stem, and will pupate in the soil. It stays in its cozy cocoon until the next spring or summer. Most squash vine borers will only have one generation each year. However, populations in the south can often have two.

Damage and Symptoms

Squash Vine Borer Damage

It’s often hard to tell that you have a problem, until the damage is done. The biggest sign is that your squash plants are all-of-sudden wilting. This will begin happening in full sun, and if the problem isn’t corrected, you should see the wilting in the mornings too.

Look for bore holes at the base of plants, along with sawdust-like frass (or insect feces). The base of the plant may start to rot or feel soft. If you notice these symptoms, then you need to start treatment options and prevention for next year’s squash.



Eco-friendly Methods to Control Squash Vine Borer Populations

It can seem daunting to prevent or kill squash vine borers. However, with a few proactive strategies, you can keep your squash in full production for longer.

Monitoring and Trapping

Before you start planning out your treatment strategies against squash vine borers, it’s important you know you have a problem first. Begin by setting out pheromone traps for adult moths. These lures can also be helpful in reducing the number of eggs laid on your squash plants. It’s also been shown that using pheromone traps can reduce the amount of pesticides used to control squash vine borers.

Exclusion

Sometimes you can’t catch all the female moths ready to lay eggs. However, you can prevent them from getting to your squash plants. Row covers will prevent females from getting access to the base of your plants and prevent them from laying eggs.

You can also wrap the base of each individual plant with aluminum foil or panty house to prevent larvae from burrowing into the stems.

Organic Insecticides

Organic treatments such as spinosad, azadirachtin, and Beauveria bassiana have been used effectively to control squash vine borer populations. These organic insecticides significantly reduce infestation levels, providing a robust defense against squash vine borers while adhering to organic agricultural standards.

However, these are only effective against adult moths and won’t affect larvae once they are inside the squash plant.

Bacillus thuringiensis

Bacillus thuringiensis is a very effective treatment against moth and butterfly pests. You can even use it against larvae that have already dug into a stem. You will need to inject the Bt product into the stem or applied as a foliar spray. This can be an effective way to treat squash vine borers once they are already growing in your plants.  

Nematodes

Another interesting tactic is to target the pupating moths that are in the ground. To do that, you can use a beneficial nematode product. The nematodes will seek out any pupae in the ground and infect them. This is a great way to prevent any new outbreaks of squash vine borer.

Conclusion

Squash vine borers can be tricky to control if you don’t get the timing of their emergence and egg-laying just right. Even if you aren’t 100% effective in stopping egg laying, there are still a few options to keep your squash harvest abundant this year. - Grant @ ARBICO Organics



Wednesday, May 1, 2024

How to Control Grubs - The Sneaky Lawn Pest!

Grubs are the larva of various types of beetles and chafers, such as the Japanese beetle or European chafer. 

You’re likely concerned about them because of the potential damage they can do to your lawn. 

While both grubs and adults can cause damage to your plant, the biggest problem is actually the fact that grubs and chafers are prey for a variety of animals, including moles, skunks, and raccoons. These creatures will tear up your lawn to get to the grubs, quickly turning your grass into a field of potholes.  

Before investing time and resources into curtailing your grub problem, double check

that the issue actually is grubs! 

  • To see if your yard or garden has a grub problem, dig out a section of dirt using a shovel. This should be around 2-inches deep. 
  • Parse through the dirt to discover the white, C-shaped grubs. They’re usually under an inch long. 
  • Finding one grub doesn’t mean that you need to sound the alarm. Grubs and beetles are part of our natural ecosystem after all. However, if you’re finding an overwhelming amount of grubs in your samples, it’s time to take action.  

Nematodes


Nematodes are some of the best biological control agents on the market. They’re effective at eliminating grubs, though they are ineffective against adult beetles. Application of beneficial nematodes is simple. First, make sure that the soil is moist since nematodes require a moist environment. They are applied with the substrate they come in, just mix with water and apply to soil. See this link for more information. Apply the nematodes to the moist soil in the late afternoon. You can use a sprayer or a sprinkler-style watering can to do so. Depending on the severity of the infestation, multiple applications may be needed so continue to monitor for signs of damage and be prepared to reapply if needed.

 

Milky Spore

 

While beneficial nematodes are capable of eliminating a wide variety of insect pests, milky spore is a specific, bacteria-based form of pest control. If you’re using milky spore, you’re focused on getting rid of Japanese beetle grubs. The ideal time for soil application is in late July or early August. This is when the grubs are closest to the surface of the soil and feeding on your plant roots. While they’re biting into roots, the grubs will also ingest milky spore bacteria. Once this happens, the bacteria begin to rapidly multiply, killing the grub within 3 weeks. As the grub decomposes, the multiplying bacteria are released back into the soil to infect new grubs. 

 

Milky spore is very harmful to Japanese beetle grubs, but has no effect on various beneficial insects, household pets, or humans. 

 

Due Diligence

 

Keeping a healthy lawn goes a long way towards eliminating grub infestations and preventing noticeable grub damage. A healthy lawn that receives regular rainfall (or is artificially supplied with water through an irrigation system) will have much stronger roots. Keeping the grass trimmed at 3-4 inches can also strengthen the root system of your grass. Cutting grass below 3 inches can cause root stress, which in turn results in a higher susceptibility to grub damage. Of course, a proper fertilizing routine goes a long way too! 

 

Robin - @ ARBICO Organics

 

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