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More on earthworms and pest control

Today’s agenda includes more about earthworm control and a request for homemade brew to hang in apple trees. Perhaps I can cap things at the end with some touches of humour.

A British specialist in liver disorders says: People who are “liverish” would benefit to an extraordinary degree if they cultivated a really good, hearty laugh every morning before setting foot out of their bedroom. Laughing shakes and activates the liver.

READER FEEDBACK

“I was disappointed in your answer to Terry Alm of Peace River about worms in the garden (Grainews April 16-12). You dealt with worms in the lawn, but she asked what we can do in the garden itself. We work to get the soil in good shape and then later we go to dig and it is like digging into cement with holes in it. Help! Thank you. — Heather”

Ted says: No road is long with good company. Whatever we are waiting for — it will surely come to us, but only when we are ready to receive it with an open and grateful heart. I’ve yet to meet anyone… gardener or otherwise, myself included, who wasn’t disappointed in something. Dozens upon dozens of people have told me about the hard lumps and mounds on their lawns, but no gardener (in my region at least) has expressed displeasure from too many earthworms in their garden. Perhaps it’s the difference in soils throughout the country.

TO THE RESCUE

“Hi, just thought I’d tell you about how we got rid of too many earthworms in the garden. Our garden has always had enough well-rotted manure. Several years ago, earthworms were so thick they wrapped around the potatoes with soil like cement. We sprinkled lime on the garden and we have had no problem since. Our garden grows beautifully now, and we still have earthworms, but not there.

This was what they called hot lime. Looking up in the dictionary, it is made by pouring hot water over limestone shells… CaO. We just hand sprinkled a light, dry covering on garden, then tilled it in. Got it from a place that sells fertilizer at that time. This was done in the spring, and then the garden was planted. This was at least 10 years ago, and as we always keep the rotted manure worked in my garden, it really produces. Never had earthworms there since, but have them all other places, flower beds, trees and lawn. We live at Maidstone, Sask., east of Lloydminster about 30 kms. Happy gardening, and thanks for your articles. — Idell Robb”

Ted says: Thanks Idell for your input and experience in this connection.

APPLE FLY MAGGOTS

“Dear Ted; Subject: Apple tree remedy

I have lost my recipe for the solution that you put in pop bottles and hang in apple trees to trap nasty insects into drinking so they do not lay their eggs in my apples. Please help. I live near New Liskeard, Ontario. Thanks. — Margaret Villneff”

Ted’s Reply: Great to hear from you Margaret. This first recipe is the one I believe you’re looking for.

APPLE PEST TRAP SOLUTION

One part molasses (cooking or blackstrap)

Six parts hot water (to facilitate easy distribution of molasses)

Add six parts white vinegar and stir or shake well.

Using empty one- or two-litre plastic bottles, cut out a two-inch square hole about midway or two-thirds up from the bottom on one side for insects to enter. Fill each bottle with prepared bait to just below the hole. Some beneficial insects will also go in, but the majority will be apple maggot flies and other pests. Strain out contents of each bottle every other day. You can reuse the same solution several times and then make a fresh batch. Hang about six or seven bottles of baited traps in each mature apple tree and pick about 90 per cent or more of maggot-free apples at harvest time.

ALTERNATE FORMULA

One part molasses dispersed in nine parts of hot water. Add one envelope of dry yeast granules. Once fermentation has stopped, stir in 10 ml (four teaspoons) of household ammonia and a few drops of liquid soap (not detergent) for every litre of water used. Note that ammonia has a strong odour so it’s best this be prepared outdoors. The fermentation of sweetness in molasses and yeast with the addition of ammonia as a flavouring makes it more selective in the insects that are attracted.

For both baits, hang the bottles on mostly the sunny side of each apple tree, about 1.5 metres (five feet) high from the ground. Renew the baits weekly. Adult maggot flies emerge when fruits are formed, or about the size of a large marble or golf ball. About a week or 10 days later, their eggs are laid. Monitor your trees and traps regularly.

Most gardeners I meet are very dedicated to finding ecologically acceptable pest control alternatives that are as gentle as possible to the environment. Let’s continue to encourage others to apply eco-friendly practices.

OTHER GOOD MEASURES

… of control for the home orchardist are the following. Some garden centres sell non-toxic pre-stickied red ball spheres. The female maggot fly emerges from her pupa and flies to the trap which she sees as the biggest and best red apple and the ideal place to lay her eggs and gets stuck.

You can also cut out your own pieces of stiff yellow paper or yellow-painted cardboard rectangles at home, then cover each with a supremely sticky insect barrier called Tanglefoot. Hang four to six of either or combination of, about 1.5 metres (five feet) above ground, about three weeks after apple blossom petals fall.

REMEMBER! A COUPLE OF LAUGHS

… is good for the liver. A youngster was attending his first wedding. After the service, his cousin asked him, “How many women can a man marry?”

“Sixteen,” the boy responded.

His cousin was amazed with such a quick answer. “How do you know that?”

“Easy,” the young lad said. “All you have to do is add them up. Like the preacher said: four better, four worse, four richer, four poorer.”

THE $2.99 SPECIAL

Do you eat out once in a while? I, Ted, do! Here’s a great twist on the breakfast special. Those of you who are seniors will easily grasp this one. If you’re not yet a senior, hopefully you shall be one day, but some of you may have to wait until you’re 67.

A couple went out for the seniors’ breakfast special that included two eggs, a choice of bacon, ham or sausages, a choice of curly fries or hash browns and toast and coffee.

“Sounds good,” said the wife, “but I don’t want eggs.”

The waitress replied, “Then I’ll have to charge you $3.49 because you’re ordering a la carte.”

In disbelief the senior woman said: “Do you mean I’ll have to pay for not taking the eggs?”

“YES,” stated the waitress.

“Then I’ll take the special,” came the senior’s reply.

“How do you want your eggs?” the waitress asked.

“Raw and in the shell,” came the senior’s quick reply. She took home the two eggs and baked a cake.

The message in this brief quip is: BE CAREFUL NOT TO MESS WITH SENIORS. They’ve had a driver’s licence longer than any whipper-snapper half their age and have driven around the block many more times than once. Send this to the seniors in your life. Even seniors-to-be will appreciate it.

CANADA DAY

… is less than a month away. Many years ago, I wrote a patriotic song titled: “I’m Proud To Sing O Canada.” Here are some of the lyrics:

Will you let me love my country,

Let me be a sign to you,

May I demonstrate goodwill,

And let you be Canadian too.

We are citizens together,

Helping one another grow,

We have courage, strength and vision,

To achieve and pride bestow.

Refrain:

And I’m proud to sing: O CANADA,

For this country stirs my soul,

And I’m proud to be CANADIAN,

With a chance to reach my goal. †

About the author

Columnist

Ted Meseyton

This is Ted Meseyton the Singing Gardener and Grow-It Poet from Portage la Prairie, Man. I salute all gardeners and farmers who help make our world a little safer and more ecologically balanced, and who toil to provide health-giving produce to others who cannot produce their own. It takes all sorts to make a world. One half of the world doesn’t know how the other half lives. The best physicians are Dr. Diet, Dr. Quiet and Dr. Merryman.

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