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    Entries in Caterpillars (1)

    Saturday
    Jul102010

    Bugs gatecrash the party!

    It’s been a good season so far. The weather has not affected productivity of the crops. While many traditional gardeners in my area are waiting for rain, I don’t have to worry. Except, fill the 5-10 gallon reservoir in my SIPs every morning. It’s been really hot and the plants have been using up a lot of water.

    But it has not been without events.

    Caterpillars attacked the broccoli, cabbage and mesclun salad mix. First reaction was to cut the infected leaves. But I soon found an organic way to take care of it. I used a biological insecticide called Bacillus Thuringiensis or BT ´╗┐for short.

    The way BT works is simple. The bacterium produces a crystal protein toxin that kills the cells lining the caterpillar’s gut, which in turn causes an infection in the body cavity of the insect.

    The interesting thing about BT, is that only certain insects digest and are affected by the protein toxins. In most insects, as well as people, birds, fish, and other animals, the BT proteins have virtually no measurable effect.

    Just spray on the leaves of the infected plants and when the caterpillar eats the leaves, they die within 20 mins. Now, the garden is virtually caterpillar free.

    But I do have some issues with the roma tomatoes. The tomatoes on one of the plant started to develop brown rings at the bottom. It looked like the tomato had blossom end rotting caused by lack of calcium. But that couldn’t be true because I always add 2 cup of garden lime or dolomite anytime I grow tomatoes. All the tomatoes quickly developed brown rings and the plant withered and died within days. I tried adding garden lime to the root system but that didn’t help.

    The bottom part of the plant and the root system looked very infected. I still have no idea what went wrong. I posting the pictures so if you spot the problem do email me.