Beauty And The Beasts: Care For Your Orchids By Getting Rid Of The Pests

Orchids are beautiful and exotic blossoms that are very delicate to care for. There are about 20,000 pieces of orchid plants that are divided into over 700 genra and they are all a symbol of love and beauty. They are prized for their uniqueness, elegance and beauty, thus the reason for many gardening hobbyists to care for them. In fact, orchids are so exquisite that they are quite expensive too. Unfortunately, they are also victims of pest infestations which are a nuisance. The best way to deal with pests on your orchids is to prevent them from the very beginning.

 

Caring For Your Orchids

Orchids are just like any plants that can be infested by pests and diseases. To prevent this from happening you must first be very observant and make a habit of inspecting your plants regularly. When you are vigilant about it, you can avoid having to deal with pests or diseases in the long run. It is also a good idea to sterilize your gardening tools before you work on your orchids and invest in new one sided razor blades for cutting. Never use a blade on an infected plant and then on a healthy one. Knowing what type of pest can infest orchids is also necessary so you can apply the proper treatments.

Identify Pests That May Be Infesting Your Flowers

When you learn to identify the different types of pests that can infest orchids, you will find it easier to care for these beauties. Here are a few common pests that infest different varieties of orchids:

Aphids

This is a common pest found in a variety of plants and they can be easily distinguished by their black, orange, pink, red, yellow or beige colors. Aphids are normally seen on flower buds, new leaves and shoots feeding on the plant. Sadly, these pests can deform orchids and infect them with virus and bacteria, but hey can be washed off with water or you can spray them with orange oil or isopropyl alcohol.

Scale

Scale is a pest with a hard shell to protect the soft hidden body from danger, making it more difficult to eliminate it with alcohol or other natural remedies. If you look on the underside of leaves or on the edge or bracts of leaves, you will find this pest feeding. Getting rid of it can be tiresome, but with plenty of patience, you can simply pick them off your orchids. When you remove this pest from your plants, you can expect your orchids to become healthy.

Slugs

These are also common orchid pests and they can do serious damage to your expensive plants from the roots all the way to the flowers. You can easily find them at night hiding under flower pots and in cool damp places. However, you can eliminate slugs by simply placing a few broken egg shells around your orchids as these shells can cut through slugs.

Mealy Bug

Resembling cotton masses, this pest can be found hiding on the growing tips, stems, bracts and buds.  Usually, they can be seen together with aphids. Unfortunately this pest is quite difficult to eliminate as repeated treatments are necessary.

Orchids are indeed one of a kind and extensive care is recommended for these exquisite plants. If you think that the pests you find infesting your garden and orchids seem to be great in number, you must consult with a pest control professional to get rid of the tiny beasts to save your beauties.

Citations:
  • Photograph by: greenfinger.
Attached Images:
  •  License: Royalty Free or iStock source: http://mrg.bz/S9b1DL

Valerie Williams is a freelance writer specializing in gardening and natural forms of pest control in gardens. She also provides information about natural pest control methods in homes and in the garden, how pests can affect plants such as orchids and how the services of Las Vegas Ant Control professionals from help treat severe infestations.






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Tips For Composting On A Balcony

Many people are starting to move away from using artificial fertilizers to fuel their garden. They’ve realized that they can fertilize their gardens much more cheaply by making their own compost. Homemade compost also has far more nutrients than the fertilizers normally sold at home improvement stores.

At the same time, many people have faced some challenges when making compost on their own. They have found that it is often spoiled by bugs and other vermin. Heavy rains can also ruin the quality of your compost. Fortunately, there are ways to eliminate these risks while composting: consider creating compost on one of your balconies.

Why Compost on a Balcony?

Many gardeners have started to use their balconies as a place to create compost. Many of these people live in urban areas and don’t have access to a garden to make compost in. You need to be more resourceful when you are trying to garden in the city and your balcony can be one of the best places to do it.

There are a couple of other benefits to using your balcony for composting. For example, you won’t need to worry about animals and other vermin getting into your compost pile.

What Do You Need?

You don’t need a lot of fancy equipment to start composting. You can get started with the following:

  • You will need something to hold onto the waste you intend to compost with. A medium-sized garbage can will do. You will be keeping it on your balcony so a stationary bin will serve best.
  • You will need a large bin for your kitchen that you will throw your waste in before moving it to your compost bin. You will need to make sure there are some holes to keep your compost pile from retaining water and provide proper ventilation.
  • You will need some soil, but it doesn’t have to be the same quality that you normally use for plants.
  • You need worms to facilitate the composting process. You would have plenty of worms available if you were storing your compost in a garden. However, you won’t have that option when you are doing your composting on a balcony. You will need to buy a handful of worms to add to the bin. Red worms tend to work best.

What Do You Put in Your Compost?

You will be collecting organic waste and storing it in your compost bin. There are a number of different things that you can use to generate your compost, but it can include:

  • Leaves
  • Egg shells
  • Coffee grounds
  • Vegetables and fruits you didn’t eat
  • Shredded newspapers
  • Grass clippings
  • Animal waste

There are many different composting strategies you can try. Some people create specific mixtures to ensure their compost gets all the necessary nutrients. In general, you will probably want to alternate between layers of plant material and soil to ensure your compost ferments evenly. You can try a number of different strategies, but the important thing is to get started.

You will need to be a little more careful when you are composting from a balcony. Compost can give off some unpleasant odors or risk drawing bugs to your home if you don’t do it properly. You may want to reduce the odors and risk of drawing critters to your house by mixing similar levels of kitchen waste with leaves and grass clippings.

Start Your Composting Today

Your balcony can be a great place to create your own compost pile when you don’t have a garden available. You may have to wait a few weeks or even a couple of months before your compost is ready to use. However, you should have some high quality fertilizer to add to your plants after it has finished.

About the Author: Kalen is a consumer advice columnist who writes about green living for http://www.stockpkg.com/.

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10 ways to minimize slugs and snails in the garden

I just received a comment on my main blog, Tricia’s Musings, from a regular reader and he said that he lost most of his Hyacinth flowers to slugs this year. What a shame! He must have a very heavy infestation of slugs. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a slug on my hyacinth nor most of my early Spring bloomers.

How do you know if you have slugs or snails in your garden?

Well if you notice that your plants leaves have irregular holes in them or perhaps slime trails on the soil and leaves you probably have slugs or snails. You might also see them crawling on your plant leaves in the evening after dark.

Slugs can do a lot of damage to young plants and seedlings. They can literally strip a young plant bare or even eat it down to the ground. You might try cutting a 2 Liter pop bottle and creating a collar to place around young tender plants if you have slugs in your garden as this will help protect them.

Slugs are particularly fond of Hostas and Delphiniums. However having said that I’ve seen them on about half the plants I grow in my garden so keep any eye out for signs of slug damage.

Some tips on keeping slugs at bay

  • 1. Stir up the earth in your garden beds in the spring. This helps to expose the slug eggs/ larvae and causes them to die from the exposure.
  • 2. Don’t put mulch down until early June (at least here in this Zone 5b area, might be earlier in your area)
  • 3. Add used coffee grounds to the soil or apply around the base of plants troubled by slugs.
    • Each year we make several trips to coffee shops and ask for their used coffee grounds. Most will give them away to the public as they are just throwing them out in the garbage anyway. Some will even take a bucket from you and fill it up throughout the day. We add the coffee grounds to our garden beds, especially around slug troubled plants like Hostas and we also add the coffee grounds to our compost container as they help make a rich compost when they break down.
  • 4. Crushed egg shells around troubled plants is said to deter slugs as they don’t like crawling over abrasive material. Sand, wood shavings, diatomaceous earth, hair or ash can be placed around susceptible plants as an abrasive barrier as well.
  • 5. Copper tape, used wet or dry, is one of the most effective barriers. When slugs and snails make contact with the copper, there is a toxic reaction, similar to an electric shock, which repels them. The minimum width for the copper barriers needs to be at least two inches; slug barriers sold in nurseries are often smaller and should be doubled or tripled when installed.
  • 6. Slugs and snails tend to feed at night so you can go into your garden at night and literally pick the slimy slugs off your plants and dispose of them.
  • 7. You also might try setting some bait for slugs in shallow containers. A popular slug trap is baited with beer, but people have also tried using yeast, damp dog food (dry pellets), and a potato cut in half.
  • 8. You might also try purchasing Nematode worms from a garden supplier. Nematodes also help to keep other garden pests from the garden too.
    • Nematodes aggressively search out and attack slugs. They enter the slugs body through a hole behind their heads (the pulmonary aperture that they breathe through to be precise). Once inside they release a bacteria which stops the slug eating. The nematodes then start to reproduce inside and within 7-10 days the slug is dead. The nematodes continue to reproduce as the body breaks down. This new population enters the soil and searches out new slugs to attack. This is a natural, non-toxic product that is safe for both users and wildlife. The nematodes stay active for 6 weeks so a single dose protects plants when they are emerging in the spring and are most vulnerable.
    • Nematodes can only be used in late spring and summer when the soil has warmed up (to above 5°C). On heavy, waterlogged clay soil, the nematodes can find it difficult to move, so Nemtodes can be less effective in these conditions.
  • 9. Use plants that slugs dislike to repel slugs – Ginger, garlic, mint, chives, red lettuce, red cabbage, sage, sunflower, fennel, foxglove, mint, chicory & endive seem to be less prone to slug attack. Plant them around the perimeter of your garden to keep them from infiltrating, and or plant them near troubled plants such as Hosta.
  • 10. Make your garden bird friendly by putting out a feeder. The birds might pick off a few slugs while they’re visiting your yard. Also if you have frogs or snakes in your garden they will often eat slugs and other garden pests.

And a bonus tip … Slugs love moisture, so if you want to minimize slugs in your garden keep your garden as dry as possible (without killing your plants), especially in the spring when there are slug eggs in the ground. Dry soil could kill them or at the very least cause them to move to an area that suits them better – ie your neighbors yard. That’s one reason why I suggested turning your garden soil several times in the spring, preferably before your soil temp reaches 5 Celsius, as you will likely expose slug eggs and they will die because they’ll dry out.

As you can probably tell I’m not into using pesticides to get rid of slugs and other bad bugs. in fact here in Toronto they’ve banned most pesticides and herbicides so it’s a good thing I’ve been gardening without chemicals anyway! LOL I have a lot of success with these methods – particularly the coffee grounds, turning the soil and hand picking slugs and snails off my plants and as a result I don’t have too many slugs in my garden beds.

May your garden be slug and snail free this year!

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