Mighty Mites

Sometimes the heat brings out the nastiest of little creatures – spider mites.It’s been over 80 degrees in Seattle this week, making my green garden warmer than normal. It seems no matter how many times I sulphur my basement, sterilize the equipment, bleach the garden floors, walls, buckets — those little fuckers manage to find their way in.

Prevention is always key – no people, pets or outside clothing should make contact with the garden gals. But shit happens, and so do bugs.

You know you’ve been infested when little flecks of gold spots appear on the fan leaves. Mites suck the sweet underbelly leaf juice, gorging themselves to fuel their activity: laying millions, gazillion of tiny little mite eggs every three days.

If in your garden inspections you find any kind of “web”, you should immediately remove and destroy the plant. I’ve heard of some people taking a high-pressure hose to the leaves, and then spraying with Neem Oil or Green Cure (a prepackaged powder mix available at most grow shops). Thankfully I’ve never had to make that choice, but I’d rather be safe than sorry by euthanizing the plant. I check my ladies every day so I’m confident I have caught them in time.

One mistake that even veteran grower can make is introducing a new strain from someone else’s garden. They might not knowingly give you bugs, but soon you may find yourself trying to find the newest cure on the market.

There are various schools of thought and preference when it comes to solutions. Some prefer Neem Oil. Others Green Cure or sulphur buckets. One tip: pick a cure, but don’t try to mix solutions. It could wind up doing more harm than good.

For my bug challenge, I choose to use a sulphur pot, burning it during the girls’ sleep cycle, with the fans and exhaust turned off. I set the automatic timer to burn for three hours, just after lights out, while I’m still awake.

Later in bed, I have nightmares that the smoldering pot will overturn and burn the place down while I sleep. So I will double check to make sure the pot is in a secured location, and never touch it when it’s on – it’s amazingly scary bubbly hot and smells like really bad farts. (It’s best not to linger). I repeat the entire process three days later and hope those little bastards take the next train to Deadsville.