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Why there are so many little black bugs buzzing around the Interior this year - by Charlotte Helston - September 06, 2017

The Thompson-Okanagan is overrun with aphids this September.

You can’t walk very far these days without getting a small, winged insect stuck in your hair or in your eye ball. And forget about wearing yellow, or you’ll look like bug-man.

So, what are these little insects and why are there so many of them this summer?

Fed Steele, president of the B.C. Fruit Growers’ Association, says they are a type of aphid.

“They refuse to die this year,” he says. “I expected them to disappear a month ago.”

As is the case with many insects, Steele suspects the long stretch of hot, dry weather led to an extra hatch this year.

“All these things are brought on by heat. They lay their eggs and have an extra incubation period. It’s due to this long, relentless heat, without any cooling off,” Steele says.

Steele says the aphids are more of a nuisance right now than a problem for this year's crops — although they could affect the buds for next year.

Dr. Robert G. Foottit, an Ottawa-based researcher, says the aphid is likely Nasonovia ribis-nigri, common name, the Currant-lettuce aphid, which overwinters on currant then migrates to a range of summer hosts including Petunia, Nicotiana and species of Lactuca or lettuce.

"Aphid populations can build up in numbers as the summer goes on, particularly if there is warm weather. When the aphid colonies become crowded the aphids will produce winged forms that can colonize new host plants. Later in the season, they will produce winged forms that go back to the winter host and produce an overwintering egg stage. In general, under ideal conditions, it is not uncommon for aphids to produce noticeable “clouds” of winged forms," Foottit says.


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July 16, 2017 I found this ugly worm living under the dirt and eating my strawberries from below.  There were about 5 of them.

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The soil is a living thing, treat it that way
Vancouver Sun - By Randy Shore 27 Jan 2010

The Green Man

Filed under: agriculture, environment, Randy Shore, sustainability, 100 mile diet, urban, rural, Metro Vancouver, Roberts Creek, sustainable, farming, homemade, Green Man, cattle, organic

The soil in your garden is a living thing. Actually it is billions of living things and if you think you can feed them chemicals you are wrong.

Those microbes and worms will eat your chemicals, but the effect will not usually be what you desire and you risk burning the organic matter right out of your soil in doing so. Much of the nitrogen in chemical fertilizers is a byproduct of the fossil fuel business, people who may not have the long-term health of your soil at heart. It also has to be manufactured - burning energy - and trucked around the country - again burning energy unneccesarily. Then there is the damage that fast-release chemical fertilizers do to the watersheds. It's not sustainable and it's just not worth it. Plus, it's hard to use chemical fertilizers in a way that matches your plants exact nutritional needs at various points through the growing season. There is a ton of energy and loads of nutrients in your soil, but your plants need them over the long haul, not just today.

Healthy soil is dark, rich and holds moisture. If yours doesn't it may be burned out from misuse.

Think about a campfire, burning low and slow. Feed it slowly with wood and it stays at a nice cooking temperature for a long time, releasing energy at a rate that is useful for cooking. If you use gasoline on your campfire, you will release loads of heat, but in a flash. Not so useful. Your plants need microbial activity to release energy and nutrients low and slow.

The temperature of your soil will rise through the spring until the peak of summer and the growth rate of your plants will increase along with it. As soil temperatures rise, microbial activity will increase in the soil, too, releasing energy and nutrients just as your plants need it. Doesn't that seem like a good system?

Kitchen waste and worms create a compost that will super-charge your vegetable patch. Use it when it turns black and looks like rich earth.

Your job is to carefully stoke the microbial fire in your soil with good fuel. Well-rotted compost and manures will provide long-burning fuel, but they will cause your metaphorical fire to flare up a little so don't put them in when you are planting seedlings or seeds. Adding fuel will cause a spike in microbial activity and those microbes burn the same fuel that plants do. For a few days or even a couple of weeks the microbes will feed voraciously on the fuel you have given them and that will rob any nearby plants of their share of that fuel.

A lot of people are confused when they plant their garden and load it with nutritious manures and compost only to see their plant growth suffer. The plants are starving because the microbes are having a party with their food.

Wait for the flare up in soil activity to die down and plant when the soil - your campfire - has settled down to embers, low and slow.

Manure. It's time.

What's the point of this rather arcane lesson in soil biology? Well, now is the time to feed your soil. If you have a compost heap, take half of it and top dress your garden patch and turn it under roughly with a spade. Same for manure. Do it now and when your earliest sowings of radish, broad beans, arugula and oriental greens go in early in March they won't starve in the midst of a microbe smorgasbord.

The other point of my extended metaphor is this: Chemical fertilizer is gasoline. If you use it, it will feed your plants and microbes in a flash and then be gone, taking the long-term health of your soil with it.

Home-made fertilizer. You can do it. Otter Co-op carries the supplies you need. Call 604.607.6901 to find the nearest dealer to you.
You can easily mix your own organic slow-release fertilizer at home in a garbage bin. This mix is mellow enough to mix into the soil right along with your nursery-grown seedlings and seeds. It doesn't burn roots and it will slowly increase its activity as soil temperatures go up and your plants need more fuel for growth. I adapted a recipe by gardening author Steve Solomon, who has closely studied local soils and the local climate just across the border. He's a smart guy. Buy his books.

The Mix
10 parts canola seed meal

1 part kelp meal

1 part lime (dolomite or agrcultural or a mix of the two)

1 part bonemeal

This will easily last you the growing season in normal-sized garden. Dig in a good handful around the roots of every plant and work a few cups into the soil around every row of seeds before you sow. I used this mix in my Roberts Creek garden patch last season with good results and not a speck of commercial fertilizer of any kind. Last season's parsley grew up to my hip, so I know it works. A good agricultural retailer should have all these things. Canola meal is used to supplement livestock feed, so shop near cows and you will find it.

Caution: make a bucket of this mix separately for the potato patch and leave out the lime. Potatoes get scabby in limed soil.

The only way to grow vegetables sustainably is to look after your soil and protect the water supply. In most cases that will mean applying the principles of organic gardening to your own yard. Generally speaking that means putting organic material into your garden to get organic material out of your garden. The bonus is that in most cases it costs less to do it that way and the produce is actually better (and some people say better for you). I say a richer tasting veggie is probably a healthier veggie.

Keep reading The Green Man

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Insecticide made from Rhubarb leaves

Rhubarb leaves can be used to make an effective organic insecticide for any of the leaf eating insects (cabbage caterpillars, aphids, peach and cherry slug etc).

Recipe 1
•Basically you boil up a few pounds of rhubarb leaves in a few pints of water for about 15 or 20 minutes,
•allow to cool,
•then strain the liquid into a suitable container.
•Dissolve some soap flakes in this liquid and use it to spray against aphids.
So, next time you pick some rhubarb stems to eat, you can put the leaves to good use rather than just composting them (which isn't in itself such a bad use, I guess).

Recipe 2
•Shred 1.5 kg (3 lbs.) rhubarb leaves
•and boil in 3.5 liters (1 gallon) of water for 30 minutes.
•Allow to cool and then strain. (use old utensils if you can - the rhubarb will stain most things and poison the rest.
•In a small saucepan heat to boiling point 2.5 litters (2.5 quarts) of water and mix in 125 g (4 oz) of softened soap ends (any bits of soap left in the shower).
•Allow to cool (stirring regularly to make sure all the soap is dissolved).
•Add to the strained leaf mixture, stir vigorously, and the spray directly onto infested leaves.

The unused spray can be kept for a day or two, but keep your kids away its still quite harmful.

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Have you noticed the Saskatoon Berry trees in the rainy Okanagan 2010 yet?
These spiked Saskatoon berries have a fungus disease called Saskatoon-Juniper Rust.
It is a fungus that can spread 1/2 mile.  Disease problems are more prevalent in years of greater than normal precipitation. Disease control involves pruning, sanitation, and use of fungicide. Pruning tools must be disinfected after every cut. All pruned material should be burned. This fungus can overwinter on fallen leaves which may need to be removed and burned if infestations are serious.  Avoid planting near native stands of Juniper.  Spores produced on Saskatoon berries will infect junipers, completing life cycle.  In spring, after a rain, juniper galls produce spores that can spread to saskatoons up to 2 km away.  More information about Saskatoon-Juniper RustMore pictures from the Okanagan 2010 More Photos.
The Saskatoon Berry is not really a berry but a member of the apple family.

Saskatoon-juniper rust:
The most common species of saskatoon-juniper rust infects leaves and berries, and can cause extensive damage. Infected fruit are unmarketable. Characteristic symptoms include firm, yellow, spiky outgrowths. Another species of saskatoon-juniper rust infects twigs and branches, causing swelling and distortion. The saskatoon-juniper rust requires native junipers as alternative host plants.

Photo of Saskatoon Berry / Juniper Rust
Photos of Saskatoon Berry / Juniper Rust on Saskatoon Berries in the Okanagan June - July 22, 2010


Photo of Saskatoon Berry / Juniper Rust
Saskatoon-Juniper Rust


Photo of Saskatoon Berry / Juniper Rust
Saskatoon-Juniper Rust

Moist or rainy conditions can increase spore production and spread of infection


In this photo the leaves are all spotted with orange.  Not sure if this is still the Saskatoon-Juniper Rust or not.

click for larger image


Not sure what this is on the leaves of this Saskatoon tree, but it may be mites.
Diseased leaves on a Saskatoon Berry bush near Kelowna BC
click for larger image


Flower of the Saskatoon Berry Tree
Flower of the Saskatoon Berry Tree

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Home Gardeners may be increasing tomato blight problem.  Early tomato blight is more common in the Okanagan, whereas late tomato blight is more common at the coast where its wet.

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How to plant your tomatoes

Prepare the holes or pots (pots should be about 10 or 12 inches deep x about 15" wide) about a month before planting. Each hole should have about 1/2 cup of bone meal which slowly breaks down over time, plus add a tablespoon full of magnesium sulphate also known as epson salts. Make sure you mix the bone meal and sulphate or salt into a large enough area to where the roots will eventually spread. This will supply needed calcium which reduces the chance of blossom-end rot. Very Important, only give tomatoes enough nitrogen like manure for good growth, and not too much or you won't have many flowers and have too much green leaf. Water ph of about 6.8 is good for tomatoes. Place your tomatoes in full sun.  For rooting and late flowering give 10-60-10 fertilizer and for flowering give 15-35-15.

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Marcia Goodwin is a Westside nurse in private practice who specializes in foot care and health consultation. Her column is often generated from questions she receives from patients.

Gardening can nurture the soul, release frustration
By Marcia Goodwin - Kelowna Capital News - June 01, 2008

Gardening can be a very nurturing activity. The health benefits to the gardener are as pertinent as those to the plants.

There’s something more than a “green thumb” at play here and the relationship of the gardener to the garden is an intricate dance that involves the ability to nurture oneself as well as the ability to relate to other living creatures.

As a teenager I can remember purging my school frustrations by hoeing and raking the dirt in our home garden, much to the amusement of our neighbours.

Quite absent-mindedly I turned the soil and weeded a 20 by 40 foot section in a matter of a few hours.

There is something very wonderful about working the soil and planting seeds. In very little time tiny green sprouts break through the earth and soon a plant has grown where there previously was none.

Gardening techniques and styles are as plentiful as there are people. Some enjoy the feel of the rich soil in their hands yet others are careful to don gardening gloves beforehand. Some are intent on removing weeds and go to great lengths to pull each and every one before they become too visible. Others are less intense and wait until they can clearly distinguish the weed from the flower. We can all remember children picking dandelion bouquets.

My father used to say a weed is a flower out of place and I recall the dandelion crops on neighbours lawns in Ontario that were harvested for salads and for wine- making.

Some gardeners focus their efforts on organizing their plants into groupings that are mutually exclusive. Rock gardens come to mind whereby placement of each species of plant is precise and calculated.

Then there are those who take a more haphazard approach and plant their flowers with very little contemplation or pre-planning. Although some consider such gardens cluttered and disorganized, the resultant kaleidoscope of colour is often very appealing.

One of my footcare clients happens to be one of those amazing gardeners who knows how to keep his garden in perpetual bloom. The colours are exquisite and are arranged in smallish groupings so the eye is never overwhelmed and is encouraged to wander.

He has managed formal English gardens in the past and the care and attention he pays to each of his plants is admirable. His knowledge of his garden extends far beyond the name of his plants as he understands the conditions that each plant requires to be healthy and strong.

He claims not to put a lot of attention into planning his garden however is very observant of those that are ‘doing well’ and is quick to rearrange plants for optimal benefit. Vegetables are scattered amongst the flowers and he seems to have mastered the art of applying his plant knowledge practically. He even keeps an undesireable infiltration of insects at bay by strategically planting marigolds nearby.

I greatly admire those who know how to make things grow and who take the time and care to do it well.

This subject matter is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be relied upon as medical advice.

Marcia Goodwin, R.N., B.Sc.N., is a local nurse in private practice who specializes in foot care and health consultation. Questions, comments or to share your healing experience, contact Marcia at 707-0387 or by e-mail at:

nursescorner 'at"

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Two drought tolerant plants are lavender, and sage.

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Prune and shape Lilacs

Prune hard as soon as the blooms are done. The new growth will bloom next spring.

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The following plants are rarely damaged by deer


Amelanchier Saskatoon Berry
Betula - Birch
Picea pungens
Colorado Spruce
Pinus sylvestris - Scotch Pine
Pseudotsuga menziesii
Douglas Fir

Shrubs and Climbers

Berberis - Barberry
Buxus - Boxwood
Caryopteris - Blue Mist Spirea
Celastrus - American Bittersweet
Cornus - Dogwood
Eleagnus angustifolia -Russian Olive
Hibiscus syriacus - Rose of Sharon
Ligustrum vulgare - Common Privet
Pieris japonica - Lily of the Valley Shrub
Sambucus - Elder

Annuals, Perennials and Bulbs

Achillea - Yarrow
Aconitum - Monkshood
Allium - Flowering Onions
Aquilegia - Columbine
Aurinia - Perennial alyssum
Antirrhinum - Snapdragons
Arabis - Rock Cress
Aubretia - Rock Cress
Colchicum - Fall Crocus
Convallaria - Lily of the Valley
Coreopsis verticillata - Threadleaf Coreopsis
Cyclamen hederifolium - Hardy Cyclamen
Dicentra - Bleeding Heart
Digitalis - Foxglove
Echinacea - Coneflower
Epimedium - Barrenwort
Eurphorbia - Spurge
Fritillaria - Crown Imperial Lily
Galium - Sweet Woodruff
Hemerocallis - Daylily
Hesperis - Dameís Rocket
Lamium - Deadnettle
Lavendula - Lavender
Linaria - Toadflax
Lobularia - Sweet Alyssum
Lychnis - Campion
Narcissus - Daffodil
Nicotiana - Flowering Tobacco
Pachysandra - Japanese Spurge
Papaver orientale - Oriental Poppy
Pelargonium - Geranium
Perovskia - Russian Sage
Ranunculus - Buttercup
Rheum - Rhubarb
Rudbeckia - Gloriosa Daisy
Salvia - Sage
Stachys - Lamb's Ears
Tagetes - Marigold
Thymus - Thyme
Tropaeolum majus - Nasturtium

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How to easily build your own rain water collection system.

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Garden Wise Online

Gardening B.C.

Gardening BC - gardening tips

How to prepare soil for planting

Prepare soil to grow flowers

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