Garden Basics with Farmer Fred

039 Who's Eating My Tomatoes? Pt. 1.

August 21, 2020 Fred Hoffman Season 1 Episode 39
Garden Basics with Farmer Fred
039 Who's Eating My Tomatoes? Pt. 1.
Chapters
00:01:16
Who's Eating My Tomatoes? Pt. 1
00:16:59
The mud dauber wasp eats black widow spiders.
00:26:37
Benefits of organic fertilizer for fruit trees.
Garden Basics with Farmer Fred
039 Who's Eating My Tomatoes? Pt. 1.
Aug 21, 2020 Season 1 Episode 39
Fred Hoffman

How many times have you gone out to your backyard tomato patch, reached in to harvest what looks like a big, juicy, ripe, red tomato…only to have your fingertips realize…someone’s been eating my tomatoes. Who’s the culprit? Our favorite college horticulture teacher (retired), Debbie Flower, rounds up the suspects and interrogate them one by one. There’s so many possible offenders, it will take us two episodes to get through them all. Plus, we will offer tips on controlling those unwanted tomato chewers, and tell you about the garden good guys that are helping you out. And some of those good guys…you might not even think of them as being beneficials. But they are.

U.C. Farm Advisor Rachael Long tells us about the mud dauber wasp, which can be very effective at controlling another backyard nemesis: black widow spiders.

And, Phil Pursel of Dave Wilson Nursery offers a quick tip: why organic fertilizers are so good for your plants.

Links:
The life cycle of the tomato hornworm.
Video of a wasp eating a tomato hornworm.
Parasitic wasps lay their eggs on a hornworm.
Effective against tomato hornworms: Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt)
How to tell the difference between a yellow jacket and a paper wasp.
Impress your friends! Yellow jacket fun facts.
Meet the beetles! (The Green Fruit Beetle, that is)
Where the blue mud dauber wasp lives in the U.S.
Organic fertilizers for fruit trees

More episodes and info including live links, product information, transcripts, and chapters available at the home site for Garden Basics with Farmer Fred  https://www.buzzsprout.com/1004629.

Garden Basics comes out every Tuesday and Friday. It's available wherever podcasts are found. Please subscribe and leave a comment or rating at Apple Podcasts or Stitcher.

Got a garden question? Call and leave a question, or text us the question: 916-292-8964. E-mail: [email protected] or, leave a question at the Facebook, Twitter or Instagram locations below. Be sure to tell us where you are when you leave a question, because all gardening is local.

All About Farmer Fred:
Farmer Fred website: http://farmerfred.com
Daily Garden tips and snark on Twitter
The Farmer Fred Rant! Blog
Facebook:  "Get Growing with Farmer Fred"
Instagram: farmerfredhoffman
Farmer Fred Garden Videos on YouTube

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

How many times have you gone out to your backyard tomato patch, reached in to harvest what looks like a big, juicy, ripe, red tomato…only to have your fingertips realize…someone’s been eating my tomatoes. Who’s the culprit? Our favorite college horticulture teacher (retired), Debbie Flower, rounds up the suspects and interrogate them one by one. There’s so many possible offenders, it will take us two episodes to get through them all. Plus, we will offer tips on controlling those unwanted tomato chewers, and tell you about the garden good guys that are helping you out. And some of those good guys…you might not even think of them as being beneficials. But they are.

U.C. Farm Advisor Rachael Long tells us about the mud dauber wasp, which can be very effective at controlling another backyard nemesis: black widow spiders.

And, Phil Pursel of Dave Wilson Nursery offers a quick tip: why organic fertilizers are so good for your plants.

Links:
The life cycle of the tomato hornworm.
Video of a wasp eating a tomato hornworm.
Parasitic wasps lay their eggs on a hornworm.
Effective against tomato hornworms: Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt)
How to tell the difference between a yellow jacket and a paper wasp.
Impress your friends! Yellow jacket fun facts.
Meet the beetles! (The Green Fruit Beetle, that is)
Where the blue mud dauber wasp lives in the U.S.
Organic fertilizers for fruit trees

More episodes and info including live links, product information, transcripts, and chapters available at the home site for Garden Basics with Farmer Fred  https://www.buzzsprout.com/1004629.

Garden Basics comes out every Tuesday and Friday. It's available wherever podcasts are found. Please subscribe and leave a comment or rating at Apple Podcasts or Stitcher.

Got a garden question? Call and leave a question, or text us the question: 916-292-8964. E-mail: [email protected] or, leave a question at the Facebook, Twitter or Instagram locations below. Be sure to tell us where you are when you leave a question, because all gardening is local.

All About Farmer Fred:
Farmer Fred website: http://farmerfred.com
Daily Garden tips and snark on Twitter
The Farmer Fred Rant! Blog
Facebook:  "Get Growing with Farmer Fred"
Instagram: farmerfredhoffman
Farmer Fred Garden Videos on YouTube

Farmer Fred :

Welcome to the Garden Basics with Farmer Fred podcast. If you're just a beginning gardener or you want good gardening information well you've come to the right spot. Those of you who are familiar with my garden radio shows here in Northern California, which I've been doing since 1982, might be wondering, well, what's the reason for this podcast? Well, even though I'm fond of saying all gardening is local, Garden Basics with Farmer Fred will be reaching out to gardeners wherever they may happen to be. With garden tips and growing advice that apply just about anywhere, we will strive to explain garden jargon and terms anyone can understand. And we'll be talking to garden experts from throughout the world who will share their vast plant and soil knowledge with us. And we'll be answering your gardening questions. Think of us as your one room schoolhouse. You're growing your backyard garden of fruits, vegetables, and oh yeah, flowers that attract the garden good guys, beneficial insects and pollinators. And we'll have some fun too. Let's get started. How many times have you gone out to your backyard tomato patch, you've reached into harvest what looks like a big, juicy, ripe, red tomato, only to have your fingertips realize, oh, somebody has been eating my tomatoes. Who's the culprit? we round up the suspects and interrogate them one by one. But there's so many possible offenders. It's going to take us two episodes to get through them all. Plus will offer tips on controlling those unwanted tomato chewers and tell you about the garden good guys that are helping you out. And by the way, some of those good guys, you might not even think of them as being beneficials. But they are. We learn something new every time on Garden Basics with Farmer Fred, and we'll do it again today, in Episode 39, who's eating my tomatoes? And we'll do it all in under 30 minutes. Let's go. Many questions have come into the Garden Basics with farmer Fred podcast. many questions and people are asking the same question. What's eating my tomatoes? Let's find out. Debbie Flower is here, our favorite retired college horticultural professor. and Debbie, when it comes to strangers munching on tomatoe, It's usually the wormy kind.

Debbie Flower :

Yeah, in a lot of situations. Yes, it often is. The worms are the larva of moths. The adult moth comes in and lays the eggs on the leaves of the tomato plant and flies off in the night. It's typically a nighttime thing, and then the eggs hatch and when they hatch, They're very small eggs. And then when they hatch, they're very small larva, and they feed on the plant and eventually on the fruit so it's takes a good Eagle Eye person to find them when they're young. Often what we find first is their poop on the plant which looks like black ashes almost. And The bigger the ashes, the bigger the fruit. So if I see that in my garden, I look up because the poop falls. So I look up in the plant and try to find the worm that's causing that problem and the easiest way is to control them is to pick them off. Tomato hornworms and tomato fruit worms are the primary offenders in this case.

Farmer Fred :

The moth that lays the eggs that become the tomato hornworm is also known as the tobacco hornworm, They're like kissing cousins. This moth is a beautiful moth. It's called the Sphinx moth and it has like a six or seven inch wingspan. Some people refer to it as the hummingbird moth because it has this long probiscus and is very attracted to nicotiana at nigh.t You may be surprised to see it like it almost looks like a hummingbird. But it's a moth and it only comes out at night right you have to be out at night. Yeah. And it lays the eggs that become the worms and the worms are laid on the underside of the leaves.

Debbie Flower :

You're right right. Where I found them is right along the margin of the leaf. So the very edge of the leaf but definitely on the underside. There sort of an opaque white color, very small, maybe the head of a pin. here in in Central Valley of California, I have found them to be there right around the beginning of July. And so one of the treatments is to use Bacillus thuringiensis which is a naturally occurring disease that in soil but it's been made into a concentrate and marketed you can buy it as a powder and mix it up as a liquid and spray it on the on the plant and the eggs. We'll still hatch and the larva will still come out. But when they eat the leaves, which is where they start, they will eat enough of the Bacillus thuringiensis, also called b.t. as in boy and Tom, very readily available, and then they it kills them. I know some people who were talking about how beautiful a moth it is, I know some horticulturist who don't kill the tomato hornworm because they love the moth, they let it have it gets bigger and bigger, probably two inches long, maybe. And it's green colored and it has a sort of a spike at its tail end. And that's where the horn, part of the name comes from. And it'll eventually dropped to the ground and form a chrysalis or a pupal case, and it spends its pupal or rest period in the soil. And so if you have a lot of tomatoes, or a lot of tomato hornworm damage and haven't caught it in time, you may have a lot of those. They're almost they're brown and they're almost mahogany color and they're hard.

Farmer Fred :

They look like footballs,

Debbie Flower :

okay, a little longer compared to their width but yes, you'll find those in the soil if you're digging in the soil but I know people who just let them lie and because they like the moth so much.

Farmer Fred :

one of my most exciting evenings as a gardener, I was out planting something. It was like in mid April and a few feet away in this raised bed all of a sudden the ground started moving and the moth emerged from the soil Oh wow. I call the miracle of nature Oh, and I stomped it with my foot.

Debbie Flower :

when they first emerged they have to they just sit what any moth or butterfly does. And they have to pump liquid into their wings before they're able to fly. Oh, what a bummer.

Farmer Fred :

for the moth. Yeah, but I figure I saved a few tomatoes that way down the line. Right.

Debbie Flower :

You probably did. A couple of other controls. One is birds where I live now. I'd have never have not had Tomato hornworm problems in my garden I find them occasionally, but they don't grow to full pupal size. Because there are power lines above my tomato bed and the birds sit up there and watch and come swooping down and pick them off. It's great bird food. Another is totill. Tilling it's not recommended in general anymore for soil, it disturbs a lot of soil structure. But if you have a very high infestation of tomato hornworms rather than digging through it and sifting for those pupal cases, just tilling would break up those pupal cases and get rid of them.

Farmer Fred :

if you don't want to live under power lines, and I would understand why you wouldn't. But if you still want to attract birds to your yard, there's a lot to be said for evergreen shrubs because they serve as great bird hotels for the smaller birds who are the ones who go after the tomato hornworms.

Debbie Flower :

Yes, and they nest in evergreen shrubs and so they're mostly need food when they're feeding those babies and the dates often coincide when the tomato hornworms are out and when the birds have babies that they need to feed.

Farmer Fred :

and we should emphasize we're talking evergreen shrubs, not trees, because of the protection that a shrub provides the smaller birds from larger birds. Yes, very dense. And and it does work. Another predator of tomato hornworms. And I've seen this in action... is Yellowjackets. And paper wasps. Yes, they will actually land on a tomato hornworm take a big chunk out of it and cut it in pieces. Yes. And fly it back to their nest. Yes.

Debbie Flower :

Yes, I have seen that as well.

Farmer Fred :

And paper wasps. Yes, they will actually land on a tomato hornworm take a big chunk out of it and cut it in pieces. Yes. And fly it back to their nest. Yes.

Debbie Flower :

And if you wait, they'll be back. And they do the whole Yes. That was incredible to see. Yes.

Farmer Fred :

But, especially in terms of yellow jackets. You probably want to eliminate most Yellow Jacket nests, paper wasps on the other hand, I don't have a problem if their nests are away from high traffic areas, and not say, under the eaves of the patio door, where they tend to form their upside down egg carton egg cases or inside pipes of clotheslines or things like that.

Debbie Flower :

Yes.

Farmer Fred :

because paper wasps will protect the nest but that's about it right?

Debbie Flower :

They're peaceful unless you disturb them in the nest, right. I while teaching there was a nest I didn't know about under the table, where the students were working and they called me over and I bent over and I got stung six times in a row. Oh, yeah.

Farmer Fred :

I have a video will post on the Garden Basics with Farmer Fred podcast, we'll put a link to a YouTube video of a wasp chowing down on a tomato hornworm

Debbie Flower :

Yeah, it's something to see.

Farmer Fred :

Yeah, so you know, not everybody's bad. They all have good points. So consider the wasp in that regard. Yes, helping you out in your battle against tomato hornworms. What about the tomato fruit worm? they tend to make instead of big chewing marks in Tomatoes they tend to make little holes

Debbie Flower :

and they go inside and feed the feed on the tomato from the inside out.

Farmer Fred :

So there's a good chance then that when you pick that tomato and take it inside and slice it up for a sandwich, you might get some protein. So that way might be more of a surprise.

Debbie Flower :

Yes, you could.

Farmer Fred :

What is the control for a tomato fruit worm?

Debbie Flower :

tomato fruit worm, which as you were saying that the cousin thing is is a cousin of the corn earworm and it tends to be a bigger problem in the corn patch than in a tomato patch. But it does feed on tomatoes. It is a small moth only about one inch and it's tan color. It's one of those, you know, one of those small moths that flies by and you don't really think much about them. It has banded wings. But it's larva is a very thin color tan, yellow brown to black but it has black head. And so if you see that on your tomato, you'd have to be fairly you have to be out there. watching to see when it's going into the tomato to catch it at that point, the control is difficult. The worms aren't very big, they're a half inch total. And so again, we'd go back to the the natural, hopefully natural predators, wasps, birds, those kinds of things, but also the BT they use of bt and you'd have to check with your local master gardeners, Cooperative Extension, somebody like that to find out when's the best time to apply it. But bt only works if you apply it when the larvae are very small, first out of the egg because they have to eat a certain quantity of it in order to kill themselves.

Farmer Fred :

And that means it wouldn't be any good to spray bt where the worm is already inside the tomato.

Debbie Flower :

No won't do anything. Yeah. So then you'd handpick and destroy that tomato. Right so that it doesn't pupate make another adult which then lays more eggs.

Farmer Fred :

I think the bottom line is before you serve a tomato from your garden to a guest or to your neighbor unless you don't like the neighbor, look for little pinholes and maybe cast those aside or again, give it to that neighbor You don't like.

Debbie Flower :

All right. All right,

Farmer Fred :

other chewing critters that we see here in California and they they can be elsewhere. I know in the southwest they're fairly predominant, are the green fruit beetles. And this is a beetle that's often confused with the Japanese beetle. The Japanese beetle is much smaller. The green fruit beetle is about a penny and a half in diameter if you would, whereas Japanese beetle is about three quarters the size of a penny, so it's much bigger but it does have that iridescent green wings and you can really tell the green fruit beetle when you disturb it on a tomato because it will fly away but it makes the sound of a world war one biplane, and it's really loud. And that's what shocks most people is the noise of the green fruit beetle but they will be eating your tomatoes. It's not uncommon, especially if you go out there in the morning to see a bunch of green fruit beetles going after your tomatoes to control them you if you get there early in the morning, they're kind of slow and you could dump them into a bucket of soapy water. There is another way, though, to trap them because they're very attracted to grape or peach juice like a 50-50 mix of grape or peach juice and water. and you can capture them with a homemade trap you put I don't know about a one gallon container and place several inches of that peach or grape juice plus water mix into that one gallon container. And in the opening put a funnel of wire mesh with its widest opening facing up. The Beetles are attracted by the bait, they'll land in the funnel, and they'll be guided to walk down into the container. But once inside, they can't escape. So there's your key. Yeah, so then you have this gallon container with green fruit beetles floating in it and you can just

Debbie Flower :

wonder if chickens would eat them. chickens and ducks. They were on the ground. Yeah, they're on the ground that will eat them dead. Like Could you empty the bottle of your trap? I'll let you try that. Don't have chickens but

Farmer Fred :

You don't have fruit beetles either.

Debbie Flower :

No, I have never seen that.

Farmer Fred :

Oh they're amazing. They're cute. They're really cute. We know a mutual friend of ours is a retired state entomologist who grew up in Mexico and he says that for entertainment as a child, they would capture the green fruit beetle and tie a string around one of their legs and use it as a balloon. I think oh it flew. Yeah, because it flew.

Debbie Flower :

I hear them coming because of that loud noise they make. Now you did mention the Japanese beetle in Japanese beetles. If you live in Japanese beetle country, you know to fear them in your landscape. And they have the potential to eat tomatoes but it isn't Thai on their their favorite food list. They'll eat peppers and and eggplant, beef. They eat tomatoes and those are all in the same family. But even before they go to the peppers and eggplant, they will go to the cucurbits. So, cucumbers and squash, so there it's not likely that they're going to be on your tomatoes.

Farmer Fred :

All right these are just the chewing insects right that we've been talking about. There's a whole host of other chewing critters out there going after your tomatoes. And we don't have time to talk about them all this time. All right, we'll save it for the next episode.

Debbie Flower :

Sounds like a plan.

Farmer Fred :

and we'll we'll do the the bigger chewing problems of your tomatoes. There's plenty chewing on your tomatoes. We'll talk more with Debbie Flower next time about more of what's eating your tomatoes. Debbie Flower, Thanks for a few minutes of your time and thanks for giving us some tips on controlling worms. Especially that tomato hornworm

Debbie Flower :

Yeah, I love those tomatoes. They're worth preserving.

Farmer Fred :

the Garden Basics with Farmer Fred podcast has a lot of information posted at each episode. transcripts, links to any products or books mentioned during the show,, and other helpful links for even more information. Plus, you can listen to just the portions of the show that interest you. It's been divided into easily accessible chapters, and you'll find more information about how to get in touch with us. We have links to all our social media outlets, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. Also a link to the farmerfred.com website. That's where you can find out more information about the radio shows. You remember radio, right? now, if the place where you access the podcast doesn't have that information, You can find it all at our home podcaster, buzzsprout. buzzsprout.com. just look for the Garden Basics with Farmer Fred podcast. You'll find a link to it in the show notes. Well, we've learned on this show that not all perceived bad guys are totally bad and I'm talking about Yellow Jackets and paper wasps. you may fear their sting,s but they're out in the garden helping you control tomato worms. There's another wasp around that you might fear but it's actually a really good guy because it's going after black widow spiders. It's called the mud dauber wasp which can be found in many parts of the United States. We recently talked with Rachael Long she's a farm advisor based here in Northern California in the Yolo County town of Woodland. And she told us about the mud dauber wasp and what it looks like and what it does.

Rachael Long :

So a mud daube is actually looks like a paper wasps and it it's like it is a in that wasp family. And it it has, you know, basically that little narrow waist and then some types are black and yellow. So it does look like just like a wasp. But the these, the mud daubers actually are only predators of spiders and they love spiders. So what they'll do is that they'll go out and they'll they'll hunt for spiders and and then they'll take these spiders back to their nest. And their nest are these little mud like globs of mud that are usually attached to the walls. And so they'll sting the spider, they'll bring it back to the nest, and then they'll lay an egg on it and then they'll seal that little cell up, and then the egg hatches and the larvae of the wasp then feeds on the spider and eventually develops and pupates and becomes an adult again. And so the mud daubers are just really incredible spider hunters.

Farmer Fred :

Well, I could see that confusion then among gardeners and homeowners who may see these little blobs of mud. They're usually underneath the eaves of the roof and you'd see them as you walk around the house on the outside. And you think well what's going on there and then you see a wasp going in and out and you might panic and try to kill it. But before you do that, I guess the good thing to do would be to get it positively identified.

Rachael Long :

That's exactly it. And there was a case where a actually a woman brought in some of these wasps that she had, that she had actually killed with a flyswatter or spray or something anyway into our office and she wanted to know what they were because she said they were flying sort of in and around around her house and she was worried about him that they might attack people. And but it turns out that these were actually mud daubers. so they're very, very gentle in the sense that they don't defend their nests. And so they're not social like honey bees or wasps, you know, that'll fill these nests and then if you disturb them, they'll just go after you and sting you. So they're not they're not defensive, they don't have that capability of defending a nest. And and so the, the mud daubers are actually they're not social and so they're, they're just really gentle and are very important because they're out there hunting spiders. And actually, there's a couple of different types that we have here in California, and one is this yellow and black mud dauber. They have a very, very long, thin waist and then they can they make these tunnels that are attached to walls and under eaves. There's another one that the Blue Metallic mud dauber absolutely my favorite. It's so beautiful you know they're about maybe a half inch long. And those metallic blue mud dauber wasps only hunt black widow spiders, and that's their favorite prey. And and I remember accidentally knocking down one of their nest and the thing hit the floor of my garage and shattered and there must have been 100 black widow spiders, spiders that were in there just tucked in there. And and and larvae of this blue mud dauber wasp that was that was feeding on those black widow spiders. So I have a friend actually and her father used to leave a little drippy faucet outside at their farm for mud daubers to have mud to make their mud tunnels and she says this friend of mine says that she never had black widow spider problem at her home and on her ranch because her dad left a little leaky faucet, which which allowed the the mud daubers some mud to make their mud tunnels and hunt spiders.

Farmer Fred :

I could see how that could cause a lot of fear. And some people who went to knock down with a putty knife, one of those mud dauber nest and it fell open and there's all sorts of spiders in there. black widow spiders perhaps. But I guess in this case, though, by the time they're in that nest, those spiders are paralyzed.

Rachael Long :

They are so actually these wasps that they actually will grab a spider so they hunt spiders are always on spider patrol and they'll grab a spider and they'll sting it and injected venom inside that that basically just paralyzes the spider. So so I was really alarmed at first to when I broke up a nest and there were like 100 black widows in there. And but then I noticed that none of them could move. They were just they were just paralyzed and so so again, so you're not going to be stung by these wasps, because they don't protect nests and then you're not going to be bitten or stung by the spiders because they, they're paralyzed, and they they can't move. So so it's actually a win win situation for all of us in terms of equal except for the black widows, of course, but for all of us, you know, of having with having these wasps around in terms of protecting us from from some of these very venomous spiders,

Farmer Fred :

and again, I guess those spiders are in that nest for a very good reason to feed the young wasps.

Rachael Long :

right they are so so these wasps each wasp will go out and maybe, maybe hunt, say 10 spiders, and they'll bring it back to their nest and they'll they'll just pack that nest with the with spiders. And again, they're laying an egg on that nest and when the egg hatches, you get a larva and the larva then just feeds on those spiders. And then once it reaches a certain stage, then it'll pupate and then it'll emerge and turn into an adult. And then it'll chew its way out of the cell and then repeat that cycle. So you might have no you might have a good 10 to 15 cells per per mud, you know, glob of mud and and then you multiply that by 10 to 15 spiders you know for per cell and then you get into each of those globs of mud could easily have several hundred spiders in it. So they really do look unsightly and you just think yuck I don't like that but know that that maybe in certain places that that you said it would be good to kind of learn to live with them because these said these wasps are definitely important for for helping to control spiders.

Farmer Fred :

Can you relocate that nest to some other place in what would be an appropriate place?

Rachael Long :

So I think you can I think you can actually, you know, maybe try to you know, if you're not if it's like if it's in an area where you just can't tolerate it and it looks to unsightly that I think you can gently like you say little Like a butter knife or a, a spatula and just sort of gently pry it off and then and then maybe move it to, to some place away from, you know, from from where you don't want to say perhaps and maybe in a garage or shed or barn or something like that. Definitely, I think you can move them around,

Farmer Fred :

so you don't have to remount them under an eave somewhere.

Rachael Long :

I don't do you know, if I if I don't like something, and if I really don't want it like right above my door, then I might just sort of gently pry it off, and then with gloves, and then just carry it over to a shed and then I'd leave it on a windowsill or on top of a beam.

Farmer Fred :

You know, even though I'm in a radio studio, I can hear the shouts of some of our listeners who are saying no, no, spiders are good. They're good guys.

Rachael Long :

Right? I agree. They're hunters too. And so everything has their place in this world. But it's the black widow spiders that that that I worry about, you know because they they actually you know they they they hide in little cryptic areas and they always sort of surprise us and so you know that they're there if they have a really tacky web but you know it's just they have their place out in the country and you know awa from houses but in our houses into the kids too you know you don't want kids or pets or anybody to to get to get stung by them so so while spiders are beneficial certainly out in our garden that around you know, in and around our houses that we often you know, don't want them because they you know, some of them are poisonous. Well, just the black widow spiders are and, and these, these mud dauber wasps are not poisonous at all, they don't sting. And so it just provides a way of controlling the spiders in and around your house where you where you just, you know, don't don't lots of us don't want to live with them.

Farmer Fred :

And especially that blue mud wasp adult who goes after black widow spiders. I'll post a picture of it at the gate growing with farmer Fred Facebook page until you can see it in its beauty and cheer it on when it's at work.

Rachael Long :

exactly exactly that don't don't get worried it might you know when you're if it's around and you and you sort of get a little close to the the nest it might kind of buzz you but it's not going to sting you. I think it's you know, everything gets a little territorial when you get too close to their nest, but it's not going to go and attack you or anything and it's much better than having a black widow spider that says that's lurking in your garage.

Farmer Fred :

the mud dauber wasp, it's on your side. It's working for you. All right, Rachael Long, farm advisor based in Woodland (CA), thanks so much for telling us more about the mud dauber wasp,

Rachael Long :

you're welcome.

Farmer Fred :

There are many good reasons for choosing organic fertilizers when you're feeding fruit trees. For one thing organic fertilizers for the most part are water insoluble. What that means is that they won't break down quickly. They'll last in your soil a long time, slowly feeding your plants. You combine a slow release organic fertilizer With a few inches of mulch on top, and you have a year round feeding system going on. Phil Pursel is with Dave Wilson nursery, they're a wholesale grower of fruit and nut trees serving independent nurseries throughout the country. And he too, says organic fertilizers are the way to go for feeding fruit trees.

Phil Pursel :

The reason we like organic fertilizers is that they tend to be very slow releasing. So if you over applicate the odds of you burning the tree or stressing it is fairly low. That's you know why we recommend organics over let's say something like a triple 15, triple 15 or triple 60 would be fine, but you got to be really careful when you apply that in the heat of the summer. Whereas with organic fertilizers, like since they breakdown slowly, it just makes it easier for the homeowner not to be overly concerned.

Farmer Fred :

As we've mentioned on this program before, generally speaking, organic fertilizers have single digit numbers on the label those three numbers numbers you see on any fertilizer represent the nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium in that product. And if you choose a fertilizer with single digits like a triple eight or a 5-2-2 or something like that, chances are it's probably an organic fertilizer.

Phil Pursel :

It is, it is.

Farmer Fred :

Garden Basics with Farmer Fred today and it's available just about anywhere podcasts are handed out. And that includes Apple podcasts, Google podcasts, I Heart Radio, overcast, Spotify, stitcher, tune in, and hey, Alexa, play the Garden Basics with Farmer Fred podcast, Would you please? Thank you for listening, subscribing and leaving comments. We appreciate it.

Who's Eating My Tomatoes? Pt. 1
The mud dauber wasp eats black widow spiders.
Benefits of organic fertilizer for fruit trees.