Does cof­fee help a flower or veg­etable gar­den?

Cecil Whig - - JUMPSTART -

Hi Ken, Do you have tips for us­ing cof­fee grounds or old cof­fee wa­ter in and around the flower or veggie gar­den? I had heard to use cof­fee grounds at the base of fruit tree. Ce­leste Hi Ce­leste, Cof­fee in its raw form is nat­u­rally acidic, but once it is brewed, the rinsed grounds be­come al­most pH neu­tral. The pH level for rinsed grounds is in the low 6s.

You can use cof­fee grounds to amend the nu­tri­ents in your soil. By work­ing the grounds into your soil at a depth of 4 to 5 inches, you will be in­creas­ing the lev­els of phos­pho­rus, cop­per, potas­sium and mag­ne­sium. In ad­di­tion, they fa­cil­i­tate bet­ter aer­a­tion, while in­creas­ing drainage.

Cof­fee grounds can also be used in your mulch pile to in­crease the lev­els of ni­tro­gen.

Some folks swear by us­ing grounds to con­trol ants, while oth­ers say they do ab­so­lutely noth­ing.

Some years ago, I read an ar­ti­cle that said cof­fee grounds can be used to con­trol snails and slugs. Never hav­ing tried it my­self, I can’t say yea or nay on this one. Thanks for the ques­tion. *** The Ce­cil County Master Gar­den­ers have been alerted to yet an­other pest that we will have to deal with. The fol­low­ing are some ex- cerpts from a mes­sage sent from Jerry E. Brust, who spe­cial­izes in in­te­grated pest man­age­ment for veg­eta­bles with the Cen­tral Mary­land Re­search and Ed­u­ca­tion Cen­ter Up­per Marl­boro Fa­cil­ity.

An­other new pest – the al­lium (or onion) leafminer – has been found in Penn­syl­va­nia. Is seems to be worse in or­ganic sys­tems and in home gar­dens, but it is some­thing we should watch for over the sum­mer and fall. It seems to like leeks the best, but will in­fest any al­lium.

The al­lium leafminer Phy­to­myza gym­nos­toma (also known as the onion leafminer) has re­cently been de­tected and con­firmed from in­fested leeks in Lan­caster County, Pa. This is the first con­firmed in­fes­ta­tion in the Western Hemi­sphere.

The al­lium leafminer has been re­ported to in­fest species in the genus al­lium. Leeks (A. por­rum) tend to be de­scribed as the most dam­aged host, which may be in­flu­enced by the tim­ing of the sec­ond gen­er­a­tion and the plant­ing of leeks. In­fes­ta­tions have also been re­ported in onion (A. cepa), gar­lic (A. sativum), chive (A. schoeno­pra­sum), shal­lot (A. cepa) and green onion (A. fis­tu­lo­sum). There are many or­na­men­tal species of al­lium, but the full host range is un­known.

Adults are small (about 3 mm), long grey or black flies with a dis­tinc­tive yel­low or or­ange patch on the top and front of head. Yel­low color also present on side of ab­domen. Wings held hor­i­zon­tally over ab­domen when at rest, white hal­ters. Legs have dis­tinc­tive yel­low “knees.”

Dam­age: Adult fe­males make re­peated punc­tures in leaf tis­sue with their ovipos­i­tor, and both fe­males and males feed on the plant ex­u­dates. Th­ese punc­tures may be the first sign of dam­age. Lar­vae mine leaves, and move to­wards and into bulbs and leaf sheathes. Both the leaf punc­tures and mines serve as en­try routes for bacterial and fun­gal pathogens. High rates of in­fes­ta­tion have been re­ported: from 20 to 100 pu­pae per plant, and 100 per­cent of plants in fields.

Cul­tural Con­trol: Cov­er­ing plants in Fe­bru­ary, prior to the emer­gence of adults, and keep­ing plants cov­ered dur­ing spring emer­gence, can be used to ex­clude the pest. Avoid­ing the adult ovipo­si­tion pe­riod by de­lay­ing plant­ing (af­ter mid-May, we think) has also been sug­gested to re­duce in­fes­ta­tion rates. Cov­er­ing fall plant­ings dur­ing the sec­ond gen­er­a­tion flight can be ef­fec­tive. Grow­ing leeks as far as pos­si­ble from chives has been sug­gested.

Or­ganic Chem­i­cal Con­trol: Azadirachtin (Aza-Di­rect or other for­mu­la­tions) or spinosad (En­trust or other for­mu­la­tions) fol­low la­bel in­struc­tions for leaf miner.

Penn State has put out a lengthy ar­ti­cle with pic­tures that can be found at http://ento.psu.edu/ex­ten­sion/veg­eta­bles/pest-aler­tal­lium-leafminer.

The Ce­cil County Master Gar­den­ers and I thank you for help­ing cre­ate a healthy en­vi­ron­ment that will last for years to come. Happy gar­den­ing, Ken Fis­cher Please sub­mit all your gar­den­ing ques­tions and avail­able photos to kfis­cher­mas­ter gar­dener@ya­hoo.com.

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