Friday, August 20, 2010

Confession of turning to Chemicals & a Story of Yucky things

Warning: If you cannot handle reading about Ticks, I advise you NOT to read this post.

So, we have an Organic Garden.  We are always looking for ways to improve our soil, since as you know, growing the soil improves the health and vigor of the plants.  We asked the gardener who comes to mow our lawn to bring us the next door neighbor's lawn trimmings in the spring. The neighbor's backyard is a "whatever grows" situation. Before the seeds set on the weeds, the gardener threshed the foot-high "meadow" from our neighbor and brought it to our yard. In order to keep our newly de-paved soil from turning into crack bare ground, we decided to spread the threshed grasses all over the 20'x20' area.

BAD mistake.... Unbeknownst to us, the neighbors dogs had ticks!!! LOTS of dog ticks! And LOTS came on those grasses! So, our poor doggy Happy was covered with ticks! YUCK!!! We tried all kinds of natural remedies. We tried Neem Oil, Diatomaceous Earth, Beneficial Nematodes (they eat the eggs in small hatchlings in the soil), Organic Sprays with Cedar Oil, we even tried Tea-tree Oil. (Which turns out to be toxic to dogs! So don't use it on your pets!  Fortunately, we didn't put much on Happy before we found out)I even purchased this:

But it didn't work!  I sent it back and asked for a refund.

The only good thing was, the ticks didn't seem to have any interest in sucking human blood.  We groomed Happy from head to tail every day and we'd pick out dozens of ticks each day. It was nasty. They just seemed to keep multiplying as the days went on. Tiny ticks started to attach to Happy's ears, ticks so small you almost need a magnifying glass... NOTHING seemed to work so, after weeks of trying to battle it organically, we just had to resort to Permethrin. (Advantage)....sigh... It worked.

So, we have an Organic Garden.. or we used to... I wonder how badly this is going to affect our natural insect predators. We keep Happy out of our raised veggies beds.  Do you have any stories like this? How soon can I start calling my Garden "organic"? I feel like a traitor...


Katie said...

My heart breaks for you. It must be so hard to maintain such an amazing organic garden and then have to make a decision as hard as the one you did. Don't be too hard on yourself, sometimes you have to do what you have to do. I think you make up for it with the rest of your amazing life! said...

I wouldnt sweat it :) Your secret is safe with me!

Recently a friend gave me some bug killer spray as a few of our basil plants (the size of small shrubs now) are covered with these weird looking hard bugs. They look almost like black ladybugs, but a bit smaller. I have no idea what they are. I imagine they eat the leaves. Anyhow, the ingredients looked scary on this spray so I gave it back. We still have the bugs and Ive ended up talking to them a few times, hoping they would be kind enough to leave. No go. They stay, I stay. We all sort of get along.

Im still curious what they are and if they cause problems or actually help out.

AJK said...

Thanks Katie and 1916, you guys are amazing too!

Mr. H. said...

Sorry to hear about your issues with ticks. I am glad that you shared the info on tee-tree oil though as we almost used it on our dog this year to get rid of ticks and we did use it on a spider bite he had...I won't use it again. Also I just read that it is especially toxic to cats. I would have never guessed that this was bad for animals, thanks for the heads up.

Anne said...

Hey it happens, don't sweat the small stuff. now the ticks will go on to people.. so keep an eye on kiddo. Right now Happy is the tick swiffer as he is picking them up first and from the sounds of it.. in bigger amounts.

Now thanks to growing up on my Mom's handy dandy overgrown weed haven crazy farm... I am a 9th degree black belt tick remover.

Get some rubbing alcohol... soak a cotton ball in it and put it on the tick. Give it just a few. The tick will back out (it gets drunk and backs out). Then just toss it in a jar of rubbing alcohol and it will die fairly quick.

Anne said...

Oh... there is no spray of anything to get rid of them before they attach. Just keep vigilant. Ticks can actually wait for years on a grass blade waiting for a host. Creepy I know... but when you get your chickens they will help get rid of the ticks. The only poultry that are seek and destroy tick missals are guinea hens.
We used to have to pull off dozens and dozens per dog (and we had 4 at the time) every day. Then the neighbors at the sheep farm got guinea hens and now it is maybe a tick or two a dog per day. HUGE improvement. I love those noisy silly insane birds.

AJK said...

Thanks Mr. H and Anne for your support. As much as I hate using Chemicals, I saw no end to this except to get those noisy guinea hens but, being in a city, I don't think the noise level will be acceptable (they don't allow roosters in this city, but we can have up to 3 hens)