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Uh-oh, Thrips!

My peppy steps to check on my plants and to plant a few more peppers came to a grinding halt today when the greenhouse keeper stopped me at the door and said, “We have thrips.”

Thrips are tiny insects (note thrips is always plural, even if talking about one) that suck the sap out of leaves, creating air pockets that scar the leaves. The scars are very evident in my photos. How did these get into the greenhouse? They can be carried on workers – preferring light blue, yellow, and white clothing, enter through doors and vents, or travel in the propagation material.

I’m not sure if the itching started within seconds after the “t” word or after I inspected my leaves, but I’m still itching. A dish soap solution that kills thrips by suffocating them will be applied and I’m completely on board with the non-chemical treatment route. After much research on the chemical route of potentially using an application containing a very small percentage of abamectin, I would have been okay with that treatment as a last resort to save the plants. The last time it can be applied to certain edible plants is with seven days of harvest. I am a long way from harvest but still feel much better using dish soap. Abamectin is toxic to bees so I would never apply any remedy in the garden that would harm a beneficial insect.

One of my first lines of defense against plant destroying insects in the garden will be ordering an army of lady bugs and placing them on the plants at night when they are not flying. Very soon, my article, “Good Bug, Bad Bug” in the summer edition of Michigan HOME and Lifestyle magazine will be available. I discuss in detail, the advantages of ordering beneficial insects online to help with garden pests – like thrips.

After inspecting the thrips damage, I planted more pepper seeds and incidentally, the greenhouse keeper said his Burpee peppers didn’t sprout either. Hmmm. The week of May 20, I will bring the plants home and begin the hardening process as mentioned in my last post. The pressure is now on to pull the weeds that have started growing in the garden, apply the fertilizer, contact the farmer to till the garden, and figure out what “hog fencing” is as that is what I’d like to make an archway out of to train bottleneck gourds to grow on. Yes, I am still perseverating over deer and rabbit control. More on that to come.

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