Sunshine Weekly Weeder Newsletter
26 August 2015
As many of you know we have fire ants at Sunshine gardens. For those who aren't sure if they have fire ants, the bites they leave behind are very distinctive. The raised red blisters are usually filled with pus.
They also tend to attack fiercely if disturbed. We have many kinds of ants at the garden and the majority are harmless and should be left alone.
One of the best tools used to detect and monitor fire ants and other ant species is the use of slices of hot dogs as a food lure. Fire ants exhibit fairly unusual behavior. They will run up a verticals surface and bite. So don't treat for the native ants just the fire ants. Texas A & M has good information on fire ants at http://fireant.tamu.edu/
They can vary in color from reddish to brown.
Fire Ant Drench
As many of you may know, the bait we were previously using for fire ant control wasn't very effective, and it's expensive. After speaking to Wizzie Brown, entomologist for A&M's AgriLife Extension service, we're trying a new method to rid ourselves of the horrid little beasties.
In the tool shed, there is a "fire ant kit" composed of a bucket, a measuring bottle, a stir stick, and two organic ingredients to make an ant-killing drench. The ingredients are orange oil and molasses. The way it works is that the orange oil strips off the protective waxy coating on the ants and softens their exoskeleton, so they are susceptible to dehydration and bacterial infection. The molasses feeds the soil microbes which helps to further attack the ants, as well as helping to break down the orange oil in the soil after it's done its job on the ants.
The process is simple, and directions are posted on the bulletin board in the tool shed. In short, you mix the orange oil and molasses, using the bottle to measure the correct amount, then add it to the bucket and fill with water. Stir thoroughly, then pour it all over the ant mound. It may be more effective to pour a circle around the mound first, then dump the rest over the top, but no matter how you do it, the ants are going to be pretty upset, so be ready to leave the area for a while.
Part of reducing fire ant populations is allowing native ants to reclaim the territory and out-compete the fire ants. So only use this technique to kill fire ant mounds, not other kinds of ants. Like any drench treatment, it will only kill the ants who come in contact with it, so it may not kill an entire mound in one treatment. Give it two or three days, and if there's still activity in that mound, you can re-treat.
If you have any questions, or wish to report that we're out of orange oil or molasses in the tool shed, e-mail Jeff Monks.
Note: I wrongly identified the blue flowers that are profuse in the garden as Texas Spiderwort, Tradiscantia humilis. It is actually Erect Dayflower (Commelina erecta). Both plants are in the Spiderwort (Commelinacea) family. Thanks to Kay for spotting my mistake.
Request from the Composters-in-Chief
A few requests for the compost:
- please no khaki weed
- please no rocks, plastic,tools and other inorganic material
- please no woody plants (those hackberry trees still look like hackberry trees well after a year)
- when taking compost to the pile please put inorganic trash into the buckets to be taken to the dumpster
- organic material that hasn't broken down goes into the working piles rather than the ground or the pile you're taking from
- please do not throw rocks out into the grassy areas
- finally, please no khaki weed
The compost is shared by everyone at Sunshine, please treat it as the resource it is, not as a garbage pile.
What to plant late August-mid - September
Cucumber, Summer Squash, Bush Beans, Potato
Officer and Zone Coordinator Contacts - Sunshine Garden
- President - Jeff Monks firstname.lastname@example.org
- Vice President - Jim Willmann email@example.com
- Secretary - Vacant firstname.lastname@example.org
- Treasurer - Caroline Limaye email@example.com
- Director - Michael Hall firstname.lastname@example.org
- Director - Kay McMurry email@example.com
- Director - Shannon Posern firstname.lastname@example.org
- Zone 1, Jody Trendler email@example.com
- Zone 2, Katy Davis firstname.lastname@example.org
- Zone 3, Ludmila Voskov email@example.com
- Zone 4, Ila Falvey firstname.lastname@example.org
- Zone 5, Mary Gifford email@example.com
- Zone 6, Charlotte Jernigan firstname.lastname@example.org
- Zone 7, Jing Li email@example.com
- Zone 8, Irina Kadukova firstname.lastname@example.org
- Zone 9, Cheryl Hazeltine email@example.com
- Zone 10, Christopher Schroder firstname.lastname@example.org
- Weekly Weeder Newsletter - Margaret Powis email@example.com
- Plant Sale - Michael Hall firstname.lastname@example.org
- TSBVI Liason & Volunteer Coordinator - Janet Adams jartdaht@gmailcom
- Plot Rental - Kay McMurry email@example.com
- Compost Coordinator - Janet Adams firstname.lastname@example.org
- Compost Tea - Jennifer Woertz email@example.com
- Education Committee - Shannon Posern firstname.lastname@example.org
- Carpentry & Repairs - Robert Jarry email@example.com
- Water Leak Repairs - Stewart Nichols firstname.lastname@example.org
- Tools & Wheelbarrows - Bob Easter email@example.com
- Website Coordinator - Sharon Rempert firstname.lastname@example.org
Record Service Hours Online - the Virtual Green Binder