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Ted has some info on how to help control lily beetles

Plus, try this recipe from a reader for Crisp Pickle Slices

You’ve heard the expression — a bird in the hand is better than a bird in the bush. In this case, Ted holds five destructive lily leaf beetles in hand that won’t get the opportunity to inflict severe if not terminal damage to someone’s lilies.

Howdy folks, howdy. Readers will notice I’m beginning this Grainews issue with a new head photo of myself and WOW do I have a lot to cover from lily leaf beetles, to controlling apple maggots. Home pickling, canning and freezing are well underway so thanks to Peggy Lunde for her Crisp Pickle Slices recipe. We’ve had our longest period of daylight and celebrated Canada Day and it’s my turn to provide a good mix of information. To my Grainews reader-companions may I say — thank you all so much for coming this way.

Subject: Apple traps, June 8, 2018

From Ted’s inbox: My husband read one of your articles about making traps to hang in apple trees. I believe it was in Grainews. We have been looking around and can’t find any of the Tanglefoot paste. Do you have a source and how many traps would go in each tree? Thanks very much, we enjoy your column. Anna Glover, Boissevain, Manitoba.

Ted’s reply: It appears Anna is not alone in her unsuccessful search for the sticky stuff she named, as yours truly has received several similar inquiries.

Here are some alternate options. I suggest using Vaseline or buy a jar of any plain, ordinary petroleum jelly. Some garden centres and nurseries sell a new product called “Sticky Foot Paste” used for tree banding. One of the simplest made-at-home remedies is to spread any of the aforesaid mentioned on both sides of 15-cm (four- to six-inch) squares cut out from a sheet of stiff yellow- and/or red-coloured paper available at craft and dollar stores. Firmly place or hang four to six prepared sticky pasted yellow and red stiff paper traps about 1.5 metres (four to six feet) high close to the outer edges and interior of each apple tree. Commercial red-coloured apple spheres that attract apple maggot flies are sold in many nurseries and garden centres and they work. About four to six apple spheres should be placed on each mature apple tree, especially on the sunny sides.

Ted peers through some spectacular lilies during their finest moment, while reminiscing a few lyric lines from his Lily song. Lovable as Romeo, Prince Charming of the town, Lily, you are my Juliet, you never cast me a frown. photo: Darin Meseyton

From: Henry and Ruby Soderberg, May 19, 2018 — Subject: Lily beetles

My son in Okotoks, Alberta has a bad infection of lily beetles. What can he use if he does not want to use chemical? Ruby Soderberg, Young, Sask.

Ted’s Reply: I suggest that your son buy some diatomaceous earth (DE) available under various brand names at garden centres, or get some DE at a farm animal feed supplier outlet. (When I, Ted, wrote to Ruby earlier, she mentioned the following in her reply. “Thank you for the information. I fed my sheep on the farm diatomaceous earth to keep parasites down 10 years ago.”)

Continuing: Sprinkle diatomaceous earth on soil surface around each lily leaf plant. Also, work some DE into the top inch or two of the soil. DE can be dusted on lily leaves, stems and forming buds. I suggest wearing some kind of air filter or mask to avoid breathing in any of the tiny particles. Hand-pick as many of the adult red lily beetles as you can and do it thoroughly several times each day, drowning them in a container of soapy water. Crush all clusters of bright-orange eggs on undersides of lily leaves. The hatched grubs carry their black excrement on their body exterior and are ugly to look at. Some gardeners find this task to be abhorrent and disgusting. The beetles overwinter in soil near base of lily plants. In fall, remove any plant debris and work into the soil a bit of DE. The beetles are quite uncanny and depending on time of day love to hide in leaf folds and in soil at bottom of lily plants. They are very mobile too and can easily fly in from an adjoining bed of lilies. A lot of lily growers tell me they’ve stopped growing them due to the profound damage the beetles inflict. Fortunately daylilies are not impacted by lily leaf beetles, although one gardener told me she found the beetles on her delphiniums. With fewer lilies being grown, will the population of lily leaf beetles dwindle or will they acquire an appetite for some of our other plants? It’s a story yet to be told.

April 7, 2018 —  Subject: re: cucumbers

I live in Alberta, southwest of Edmonton.

My favourite recipe for Cool Breeze cukes is presently packed in a box, as we have recently moved. As soon as it surfaces I will forward it to you.

I had been able to find the seeds for the CBs in our local Co-op store (in Leduc Alta.). 

Thanks for your help.
Peggy Lunde, Thorsby, Alta.

Ted’s Reply: Hey! It’s fresh, homegrown cucumber season. True to her word, on May 27, 2018 Peggy wrote the following: “Hello Ted… here at last is the recipe I like for my cucumbers.”

Crisp Pickle Slices

  • 4 quarts medium-size thinly sliced cucumbers
  • 6 medium white onions, sliced thin
  • 1 green pepper cut in narrow strips
  • 1 sweet red pepper cut in narrow strips
  • 1/3 cup pickling salt
  • 3 garlic cloves cut in narrow pieces
  • 3 cups white vinegar
  • 5 cups white sugar
  • 1-1/2 tsp. turmeric
  • 1-1/2 tsp. celery seed
  • 2 tbsp. mustard seed

Place the prepared vegetables in a large bowl, mix in the salt and cover with cracked ice, mix thoroughly and let stand for 3 hours.

Drain off the salt water and discard the drained-off salt water. Next, prepare vinegar solution with remaining ingredients and pour over cucumber mixture in a large pot and then bring to the boiling point. Remove from heat, fill sterilized jars and then seal using new lids.

Peggy has never given them a hot water bath and always has had “real good luck.” Makes 8 pints. Phone Peggy at 780-789-2545 if you have any questions or email her at [email protected] Peg says, “I don’t always include the peppers, and still get a nice pickle that my whole family enjoys. The original recipe did not specify pickling vinegar. I’ve used it, and also have used regular vinegar — good either way.”

P.S. from Ted — As mentioned in a previous Grainews — Cool Breeze cucumber has been replaced by Corentine cucumber for home gardeners. Corentine is described as a vigorous and more disease-resistant pickling cucumber and incredibly productive with all female flowers that do not need pollination.

Some Corentine cuke seed retailers include the following:

  • Early’s Garden Centre in Saskatoon, phone toll free 1-800-667-1159;
  • Lindenberg Seeds, Brandon, Man., phone 1-204-727-0575;
  • Ontario Seed Co., Waterloo, Ont., phone 1-519- 886-0557. GN

About the author


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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