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The wisdom of identifying pests

Jun 20, 2008 -

Amber inspects the scene of the crime.

We all know organic farmers and gardeners are wise people.  Growing healthy food while maintaining the health of the environment exudes wisdom.  So when a pest problem comes up, a wise caretaker rejects the “silver bullet” approach to pest management by killing anything that moves. Instead, he or she is careful to observe the damage, to identify what the source is, and to consider the options within an integrated approach to pest management.

Rust! Recently, a woman came into the Peaceful Valley store with a sample of a bean leaf wondering what the problem was.  It had reddish spots on the underside with yellowish spots on top.  She initially thought it was Spider Mites, but upon inspection with our handy Magnifier, we observed that there was no damage consistent with Spider Mite damage.  Under magnification, it looked more like a rust.  After consulting the Organic Gardener’s Handbook of Natural Insect and Disease Control and a helpful website, we confirmed that suspicion.

The first step, we decided, was to stop overhead watering, to water only in the morning, to increase air circulation, and to foliar spray Compost Tea.  If the problem persists, she would then consider using a sulfur spray.

What a wonderful example of careful patience and wisdom in confronting problems!

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