gabriola garden

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Pests, Diseases of Sweet Corn--put up a Barricade

While the number of green plants in our garden here in the northern hemisphere are ever diminishing (despite the constant rainfall), south of the equator in Eloise and John’s vegetable patch, the young corn seedlings are standing proud.

Eloise finally sent us a picture. Why only one? I’ll let her tell you herself. “As you know, Sara, John can be very stubborn sometimes. For instance, he refuses to buy a digital camera, since we invested good money in a film-loading SLR a few years ago, so we shouldn’t be wasting money buying a new camera.”

“As a result, I have to wait forever for him to shoot off the roll of film, then drive it into town to the photo developer—who is almost ready to go out of business—then for him to remember to pick up the photos. The clincher is, that not all of them come out, so we’re left with one or two shots that are usable.”

“John is equally stubborn about our sweet corn planting. He read a book somewhere about all the pests and diseases that plague baby corn plants, so now he’s running around trying to figure out how to inoculate them against all sorts of imaginary (and some real) diseases.”

“After talking to the Advanced Nutrients technical guy and finding out that certain products are temporarily unavailable, due to labelling problems, John is now fixated that those are exactly the products that we need and that without them our corn crop will wither and die.”

“He is especially keen on getting his hands on Advanced Nutrients Protector, which is designed to ward off and fight powdery mildew. John is terrified of a fungal infestation, so we were wondering if you had any Protector left over from last season? John is willing to pay good money to get his hands on some.”

“The other products that he would love to get are Genius Oil, a concentrated form of neem oil, and Bug Away, which is an organic insect repellent, NOT an insecticide, as the technical guy made clear. It seems that the Canadian government wants Advanced Nutrients to label it as an insecticide, which they refuse to do.”

“Do you by any chance have any of these products left over? You might be needing them yourself for your next planting season, so I know that it’s asking a lot.”

“John hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest. He was told that by using Barricade, a potassium silicate product, he will be able to strengthen each corn cell individually. You feed it to your roots, it is not recommended as a foliar spray. But it DOES protect against fungal invasions, which fact seems to have gone past John’s ears.”

“The silicates are drawn into the plant's roots and flow in the sap, until all plant tissues benefit from their presence. They not only help with the absorption of several macro and micro nutrients, but also contribute to the strength and thickness of cell walls, keeping plants robust and erect, and resisting attacks by fungi and insects.”

“Another Advanced Nutrients product designed to inoculate your plants against many pathogens and infestations, is Scorpion Juice, which can be applied systemically OR used as a foliar spray.”

“The application rate for Scorpion Juice is 10 mL/L and it imparts to our corn plants induced systemic resistance. This is another way of saying that it turns on the immune system of the plants, enabling them to ward off all sorts of infestations, whether fungal, bacterial, or viral.”

“I’m trying to get through John’s thick head, that by regular application of these two preventatives, along with feeding our corn Organic B and Grandma Enggy’s Seaweed Extract, we are doing everything possible to make sure that some pest or disease does NOT wipe out our entire corn crop.”

“It seems that the most common problems associated with growing corn are root rot, wireworms, European corn borers, corn smut, flea beetles, and corn earworms. Not to mention crows!”

“John is especially worried about flea beetles right now, since they attack corn at the seedling stage and can carry Stewart’s bacterial wilt disease. This insidious malady will eventually stunt the growth of young corn.”

“What I tell John is that by using the preventative products available from Advanced Nutrients, we are doing everything possible to ward off these critters. Losing sleep worrying about them won’t do any good. In fact, it will end up making us sick. Who’s going to take care of the corn then?”

“I also urge him to go out and take pH readings on a daily basis. I spoke to the technical guy myself last week, and he told me that if the soil pH is off either way, it increases the stress level of the plants, making them susceptible to pests and diseases. For sweet corn, our soil pH should be between 6.0 and 6.5.”

“Whenever the pH is off in one or the other direction, we use Advanced Nutrients pH Up or pH Down to correct the acid-alkaline imbalance.”

“Could you please be a dear and check to see if you have any of the products I mentioned left over in your gardening shed and we’ll be more than glad to pay for the cost of shipping them to us Down Under.”

“We saw on the telly that you guys are again being washed away by torrential rains. Stay dry and warm and we’ll talk again soon. Love, Eloise.”

posted by Tim at 11:11 PM


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