Got Nuts?

I’ll bet you do have nuts!  As I look across the kitchen from where I am writing, I see a big jar of Planters peanuts and next to it is another big jar of Kirkland’s Marcona Almonds.  (These are SO GOOD!  but the store supply is seasonal, so you need to buy many jars when they are in.)  Right next to the jars is the frig where we keep the walnuts.  (I don’t know why.)  Just checked the pantry and found an unopened bag of Blue Diamond lightly salted almonds. Anyway, we definitely got nuts, and I bet you do too.

 Now, how about rats?  Do you have rats?  We have rats because we have citrus trees.  Unfortunately we park our cars in the driveway nearby and rats love to make a nest in the engine compartment.  Those little b*#&+%s (I’ve never sworn in a blog before—can you tell?) ate wiring in our Yukon.  That was expensive.  They also did a job on our air conditioning condenser on the other side of the house.  Not cheap either.  Anyway . . . we know rats.  We have also killed a lot of rats, and one of the problems is disposing of the carcass.  If you just put it in the garbage, it will probably stink up that whole side of the house even when you bag it.  We have had to resort to double Ziploc bagging the varmint and putting it in the freezer until garbage day.  The problem is that we often forget it, and when we discover it several weeks later when looking for dinner, it’s rather disturbing.

Now, how about tomatoes?  Since you are a gardener in the Sacramento Valley, I know you have tomato plants—It’s the law.  Don’t you just hate it when a rat gets into your tomato plant and takes just one bite out of your best tomatoes?  (Insert you own swear word here: ____________.

 Now that we have determined you have nuts, rats, and tomatoes, let’s get ready to kill those suckers.  (Is that swearing?)  You have baited your rat traps with peanut butter before, and that works well, but I am always disappointed when the ants get to the bait first, leaving me with a very clean, empty trap.  Here is what you need to do.  Take one of your nuts—preferably an almond—and hot glue it to the trip pedal.  Do this before you set the trap, or you will end up with hot glue everywhere!  Now you have a trap that can be used over and over.

I’ll leave trap placement up to you.  One of my favorites is to secure it to the limb of a citrus tree with green tape or a zip tie.  Somehow it is more satisfying to find a rat hanging suspended from a trap.  I have also found it advantageous to drill a hole in the corner of the trap and attach a cord when positioning a trap on a fence or on a ledge.

I know you hate to give up a nut, but it’s only one.  I was going to use a marcona almond, but couldn’t bear to lose one, and opened the Blue Diamond bag instead.

 

Rat trap baited with almond
Rat trap baited with almond

Happy trapping, Stan, The Nut Man

P.S. I just ordered an ultrasonic rodent repellant deterrent device from Amazon that will attach to my new car’s battery.  I figure $24 is cheap insurance preventing over $1000 worth of damage.

SPRING CLEAN YOUR PESTICIDES

by Niki L. Moquist, UC Master Gardener

Spring is the perfect time to inventory our garden and household chemicals sitting in the garage or garden shed shelves. These half or full containers might have sat around for a while gathering dust. These need to be disposed safely to prevent accidents and protect the environment. 

Let’s define what is a pesticide: A pesticide is any substance used to kill, repel, or control certain forms of plant or animal life that are considered pests. A pest is any unwanted organism that causes problems. Most organisms are not pests or are pests only in certain conditions. Pesticides should be considered tools or steps in a process.

Pesticides include: herbicides for destroying weeds and other unwanted vegetation; insecticides for controlling a wide variety of insects; fungicides used to prevent the growth of molds and mildew; disinfectants for preventing the spread of bacteria; and compounds used to control mice and rats. They can be chemical, or organic such as neem oils. They contain active and inert ingredients, produced to be used in very specific ways. 

Labels on pesticide containers give specific instructions how to use and dispose, look for the “Storage and Disposal” statement on your pesticide label. It is a good idea to learn how to read the pesticide label. Labels are there primarily to help us achieve maximum benefits with minimum risk. Both depend on following label directions and correctly using them. Follow the directions before each use and when storing or disposing the pesticide. Do not trust your memory. You may have forgotten part of the instructions. Use of any pesticide in any way that does not comply with the label direction and precautions is illegal. Improper usage may be ineffective on the pests or, even worse, pose risks to users or the environment. Labels also list if the pesticide is toxic to the bee population. It is a good idea to read the label prior to purchasing a product to make sure is effective on the pest you are trying to control. Keep product in its original container with labels intact.

Dispose of pesticides as instructed on the product label. If product label is illegible and contents cannot be identified, it is best to dispose. Some chemicals do not age well, if they have been sitting on a shelf for a while it is best to dispose. Older chemicals might have been removed from the market and it would be illegal to use them, e.g., diazinon. (The last time use allowed was 2004!). If any product remains in the old container, it must be disposed as household hazardous waste. Never pour pesticides down the sink, toilet, sewer, or street drain. Many municipal drinking water and wastewater treatment systems are not equipped to remove pesticides. If pesticides reach waterways, they can harm fish, plants, and other living things. You cannot dispose pesticide bottles or other containers in household garbage can. You need to take them to an approved Household Hazardous Waste Center. Check your local municipality for hours and sites. Never reuse empty containers.

Once ready to tackle the task, make sure to line the floor with a heavy plastic tarp. Have on hand kitty litter or sand and plenty of paper towels for cleaning spills. Lay out heavy garbage bags to form a barrier for plastic containers. Be sure to wear protective clothing when rinsing pesticide containers, such as chemical resistant gloves and eye protection to avoid contact with skin or eyes. Do not pour rinse water into any drain or on any site not listed on the product label; it could contaminate the environment. If you mixed or diluted a pesticide and you have a little too much left over, try to use it up while following the label.  Consider asking a neighbor if they can use any leftover mixtures. Protect pets and children, make sure they are in the house and safe.

How to transport the old pesticides to the Household Hazardous Waste Center:

  • Keep the pesticides in their original containers with the labels attached
  • Place containers so they won’t shift and/or spill; you might have to fill gaps between containers with old newspapers
  • Line the transport area in your vehicle with a heavy plastic tarp, to contain any spills in case of an accident
  • If pesticides are carried in the back of an open vehicle, secure and cover the load
  • Don’t put pesticides in the passenger compartment of a vehicle

Go straight to collection site once you have loaded the car. Drive carefully

Same rules apply when you purchase pesticides and are delivering them to your house. Place bottles in a plastic tub lined with a heavy garbage bag, to protect your vehicle in case of spills. Keep pesticides away from groceries, including food for animals.

Pesticides should be stored in their original containers. The original container is designed to protect the product and it’s made of materials that will withstand the chemicals in the product. Store containers with their original labeling which includes application and disposal directions, ingredient names and emergency information. The original container also has the appropriate lid/cap to protect kids and pets. Store in a designated place that is only used for pesticide storage, pick a well-ventilated location that children and pets cannot access, preferably with a latch or lock. Choose a location away from ponds, streams and drinking water wells.

Keep these tips in mind:

  • Practice Integrated Pest Management (IPM) to reduce the use of pesticides (see below for website)
  • Identify the pest and make sure the product will be effective against that pest before purchasing
  • Buy only what you need for the season, mix only what you need today, follow label directions for mixing

Helpful Resources:

  • For help with identifying pests and how to control them – Integrated Pest Management Program at University of California  http://ipm.ucanr.edu/PMG/menu.homegarden.html  
  • For help in how to store, dispose, read labels on container, the National Pesticide Information (NIPC) at Oregon State University is a good source.  
  • Disposal Instructions on Non-antimicrobial Residential or Household Use Pesticide Product Labels –US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA
  • Safe Disposal of Pesticides – US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
  • Contact your local Master Gardeners for more information

Happy gardening and stay safe.  

 

 

 

 

 

Got Gopher?

Thankfully, gophers are not a problem for me. But since several of my gardening friends are constantly fighting against these little demons, I thought I would spread what I have learned from others. Gopher killing products are found in nurseries, big box stores, and hardware stores. The most common product is poison bait. The use of bait is discouraged because the secondary poisoning effect. If another animal eats the killed gopher, the dog, coyote, owl, or whatever, will be likewise poisoned. Probably the preferred gopher killer is the Black Box trap by Victor. There is a very effective You Tube video produced by Dirt Farmer Jay who demonstrates how to use this trap. He will also show you how to use a flare device that emits poisonous smoke. Still another method is to use propane gas. Run a hose from a propane tank into a gopher run and that will poison the gophers. I have also heard that it is effective to attach a hose to the exhaust of a riding mower and lead that into a run. I’m not sure if these last two are legal. But whatever your technique, I have sympathy for anyone with a gopher problem. They can do a devastating job on a garden you have worked so hard to create. I have included a picture of the Black Box.
Stan

Gopher Trap
Gopher Trap

P.S. You know, if you are planning raised beds, you might want to lay down hardware cloth first. This is a layer of wire mesh that has ½ in holes in it. That would at least keep gophers out of your box.

Bucket

bucket
bucket

            Body count tonight:  57.  I remembered just before going to bed that the snails would be out in force since it rained a little today. I grabbed a flashlight and my snail masher from behind the front door.  It consists of an old cut off flagstaff with a 2 x 2 block attached at the end.  The grandkids use it when they visit and earn 5 cents per snail killed.

            I don’t understand why snails come out from their leafy protection and crawl around exposed on pavement and pavers.  I actual feel guilty murdering helpless snail after snail.  You really can’t call the exercise “snail hunting” because that would indicate that some sort of sport would be involved.  Perhaps, if you were a snail hunter, you shouldn’t be able to kill a snail unless it is in flight.  LaVille said that she’s seen snails take flight.  She and her siblings would visit an aunt in Salinas and collect snails and then return home to Calexico where they would place them on hot pavement to see how high they could fly.  Perhaps snail hunting should be restricted from ½ hour after sunset to ½ hour before sunrise.  Snail hunting season would be limited to the winter months.  You wouldn’t want to kill snails during their breeding season.  Of course no artificial light source could be used.  To make the sport more fair to the snail, size of the snail masher could limited to a ¼ inch diameter rod.  Naturally no snail with a shell diameter less than 1 inch could be harmed.  Chemical products of any sort would be outlawed.

            I’m considering starting a club called “Snails Unlimited”.  Would you like to join me in protecting the lives of these helpless mollusks.  Let’s ensure that the sport of snail hunting is available to be enjoyed by future generations.

Stan, The Snail Killer

P.S. LaVille suggested an addendum was needed here:

When we had rounded up a significant collection of these hermaphroditic herbivores, LaVille would take them into her classroom and distribute them in small paper bags as pets to her students for responsibility training (for the kids).  Then periodically she would hold races on the overhead projector by placing these snails in the center to see which sprinter could reach the periphery first.

I have to caution you however:  Do not store your collection of snails in a paper bag.  They will eat their way out and you will find estivating snails all over the house for weeks.  Trust me

Snail Killer

Body count tonight:  57.  I remembered just before going to bed that the snails would be out in force since it rained a little today. I grabbed a flashlight and my snail masher from behind the front door.  It consists of an old cut off flagstaff with a 2 x 2 block attached at the end.  The grandkids use it when they visit and earn 5 cents per snail killed.

 I don’t understand why snails come out from their leafy protection and crawl around exposed on pavement and pavers.  I actual feel guilty murdering helpless snail after snail.  You really can’t call the exercise “snail hunting” because that would indicate that some sort of sport would be involved.  Perhaps, if you were a snail hunter, you shouldn’t be able to kill a snail unless it is in flight.  LaVille said that she’s seen snails take flight.  She and her siblings would visit an aunt in Salinas and collect snails and then return home to Calexico where they would place them on hot pavement to see how high they could fly.  Perhaps snail hunting should be restricted from ½ hour after sunset to ½ hour before sunrise.  Snail hunting season would be limited to the winter months.  You wouldn’t want to kill snails during their breeding season.  Of course no artificial light source could be used.  To make the sport more fair to the snail, size of the snail masher could limited to a ¼ inch diameter rod.  Naturally no snail with a shell diameter less than 1 inch could be harmed.  Chemical products of any sort would be outlawed.

I’m considering starting a club called “Snails Unlimited.”  Would you like to join me in protecting the lives of these helpless mollusks.  Let’s ensure that the sport of snail hunting is available to be enjoyed by future generations.

Stan, The Snail Killer

P.S. LaVille suggested an addendum was needed here:

When we had rounded up a significant collection of these hermaphroditic herbivores, LaVille would take them into her classroom and distribute them in small paper bags as pets to her students for responsibility training (for the kids).  Then periodically she would hold races on the overhead projector by placing these snails in the center to see which sprinter could reach the periphery first.

I have to caution you however:  Do not store your collection of snails in a paper bag.  They will eat their way out and you will find estivating snails all over the house for weeks.  Trust me

No Waste Sprayer

No Waste Sprayer
No Waste Sprayer

         

  A couple years ago I was alarmed by the discovery of a population of carterpillars that were gorging on our redbud tree.  These red humped caterpillars love redbud trees and walnut trees.  There were hundreds of these little buggers completely devouring the leaves on dozens of branches.  When simply spraying with a fire hose type nozzle didn’t get them all, we resorted to an environmentally friendly chemical treatment.

            The sprayer I used is the tool of the month.  The Gillmour No Pre-Mix Sprayer is a hose end sprayer.  Rather than mixing a chemical in a spray can and lugging it around, you simply add the concentrate to the spray bottle.  On top of the sprayer is a metering dial that allows you to set application rate from 1 teaspoon per gallon to 10 tablespoons per gallon.  When you are finished, you save what remains and pour it back into the original container.  The sprayer also has a removeable nozzle attachment that can deflect the spray in different directions.

            You obviously would only use this device if you needed to treat a large area, and, of course, an area that is reachable by a hose.

            If interested, you may purchases the Gilmour Pre-Mix Sprayer on Amazon Prime for $80.  Better yet, how about an identical Chapin G362 Professional All Purpose Sprayer for $20?

            Hoping you don’t need this tool,

            Stan, The Tool Man