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Author Topic: HELP! Something is attacking my rhubarb!  (Read 1186 times)

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alaskanray

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HELP! Something is attacking my rhubarb!
« on: August 30, 2009, 12:19:52 AM »

I recently moved to John Day, Oregon from Southeastern Alaska and have been attempting to garden. Mind you, in Alaska we had slugs but they didn't seem to like the rhubarb. Also, we had lots of rain so watering a garden was never a problem. Well, it's a lot dryer here and there are pests that seem to like my rhubarb! I'm on a fixed low income and am disabled so I can't spend a lot of time or money on my garden. My daughter helps me some but she is a teenager and not the most reliable. Bottom line: What could be attacking my rhubarb and how do I get rid of it? I know it's not slugs. My daughter thinks it's earwigs. HELP!!! :yikes:

Patty S

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Re: HELP! Something is attacking my rhubarb!
« Reply #1 on: August 30, 2009, 02:48:32 AM »

Hi Ray, & welcome to Banana Belt Gardening.  Too bad you couldn't have aimed a bit to the southwest & moved to Roseburg, where our weather is a little tamer than it is in John Day! (And if you lived here, you could actually say that you moved to the banana belt!) :wink02:   
 
Several of us here, for one reason or another, have limited incomes, so we try to gear our gardening to the least expensive yet most effective ways that we can.  I hope you'll share some of your "shortcuts' with us, & I also hope that we can pass some of our time & money savers on to you. :ok:  Are you doing much container gardening?  Thanx to arthritis & 2 fake knees, it's not as easy for me to garden the way I used to, so I'm becoming a real believer in container gardening, cuz I think it makes life a lot easier... (& I won't give up gardening!)  I'm also amazed at how much less weeding is involved with containers! :clap:  Anyway, I hope you'll share your gardens with us... we love pics, but if you don't have a digital camera, thats OK too.  We'd like to hear about what you're growing & what kinds of gardening tricks work for you.

Now, on to your question: Before we can figure out how to get rid of your Rhubarb muncher though, we should try to identify it.  I need to ask you just "how" your Rhubarb is getting eaten... are the stalks themselves being eaten, or is it the leaves? (Can you take a pic of the damage?) The only things I know of that bother Rhubarb are Slugs/Snails, who are especially attracted to the moist, shaded area under Rhubarb plants, & WILL munch on the the leaves), & the Stem Borer, who starts at the leaf & eats down into the stalk, eventually causing it to collapse. There is also a mite (a teeny tiny white speck) that causes damage to Rhubarb leaves & stunts growth.   

Do you have a significant slug population in John Day?  I'm thinking that it's so much dryer there than it is here, it would surprise me if that type of pest were to be the problem.  (I'm guessing that you know all too well what slug trails look like, so I'm sure you'd know if that's what is eating the Rhubarb.) We have an abundance of snails here, so I cover the area under my Rhubarb with crushed egg shells, cuz they won't bother trying to navigate through them.

An interesting thing about Rhubarb is that the leaves are loaded with oxalic acid, which is a poison, so that's why it doesn't have a lot of natural "enemies".  (A tea made of boiled rhubarb leaves & left to soak for a day or 2, then diluted 10-to-1, makes a good pesticide that can be sprayed on other plants...put a little glug of dish soap in the spray bottle to help the mixture adhere to the leaves.)

By the way, I don't think that earwigs snack on plants as much people think they do (but I could be wrong). :lala02: Earwigs do eat aphids, so I don't chase them off my roses anymore if I see aphids starting to congregate... in fact, I don't see earwigs around the roses at all, unless aphids are present!

Again, welcome to our forum. :handshake: We're looking forward to getting to know you!
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alaskanray

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Re: HELP! Something is attacking my rhubarb!
« Reply #2 on: September 02, 2009, 01:17:27 AM »

I will try and get out into the garden and take some photos tomorrow. The main damage I can see is in the leaves. I have a new knee and the other leg needing a new knee so I don't get out there much. I have my garden in a 3 tier planter except for my gooseberry bush. My strawberries have all shriveled up and died and the rhubarb is not looking too happy. The mint and garlic my daughter planted seem to be doing well. We have a couple of elm trees that are infested with what the locals call elm bugs. Not sure what they really are. Could they be attacking my garden? I found a saline online that is supposed to help control pests and am trying it out. Wish me luck.

alaskanray

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Re: HELP! Something is attacking my rhubarb!
« Reply #3 on: September 08, 2009, 06:53:46 PM »

A friend here suggested the problem might be grasshoppers...is there anything I can do about grasshoppers without destroying the edibility of my rhubarb? :idea:

Patty S

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Re: HELP! Something is attacking my rhubarb!
« Reply #4 on: September 15, 2009, 02:32:23 AM »

Sorry I've been so long in replying, Ray.  Since my daughter's recent back surgery, she's not able to lift, twist or bend, so I've been busy trying to keep up with her 19 month old.She's doing fine, but the healing is slow.  I'm learning how to run faster & jump higher than I have in years (& loving every minute of it), but it leaves me with hardly any "me" time!

Other than getting yourself a duck (cuz they love grasshoppers as well as snails/slugs), there are a few food-safe pesticides on the market that will take care of grasshoppers, while not harming the beneficial insects that we want to keep in our gardens.  One is Nolo Bait... but it's pretty spendy. (Google "NOLO".)  I'd rather go with Lilly Miller's "Grasshopper Earwig & Sowbug Bait", that is safe to use on food plants & also kills pests, such as army worms, ants, crickets, ground beetles, centipedes & millipedes. The active ingredient Is Carbaryl, which also kills the Cucumber Beetle, so I'm definitely getting some for next year.  (It costs about $4.00 & should be enough to last you all season.)

Now that the cooler nights have set in here, my rhubarb is just about done for the season, & I'd guess it's doing about the same thing where you are.  Again, sorry for not getting this reply posted earlier, but look for that product, read the application instructions & hit your gardens with it early next year.

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If you stare at this picture long enough you should be able to see a giraffe.
                                   
                             Happy Mental Health Day!!

alaskanray

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Re: HELP! Something is attacking my rhubarb!
« Reply #5 on: September 16, 2009, 06:54:37 PM »

 :handshake: Thank you, Patty! I'll see if the local stores have it. I looked on Amazon and they wanted over $8 in shipping plus nearly $6 for the cost of the item. NOW...any suggestions for keeping the cats out of my planter? They think it's the grand litter box! We have a lot of strays here, too. omeomy! I got some stuff from the store but it didn't work.

Patty S

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Re: HELP! Something is attacking my rhubarb!
« Reply #6 on: September 21, 2009, 04:53:09 PM »

You're most welcome, Ray.  I gave up shopping online, cuz any savings seems to get made up for in shipping costs!

I used to have a cat problem like that... not only in my planters, but in freshly turned garden areas, as well. I think the stuff they sell in the stores works better inside the house (but it doesn't smell much better than the cat "crumbs"!).  :eek:  I solved the problem in the gardens by placing discarded oven & fridge racks in the spots where I'd planted seeds, until plants came up. (I drive my hubby crazy, cuz I don't throw things away like normal people do!) :lala02: Pieces of metal fencing works well too, cuz it interferes with the cat's instinctual habit of scratching in the dirt.  If they don't have a place to scratch, they'll find somewhere else to "go"!) :grinn:

In planters, I've used smaller pieces of fencing & remnants of bird/deer netting, in the pot above the soil.  I've also used wadded up tulle netting, left over from a wedding reception... just anything that keeps them from being able to dig. (Tulle netting also works great to keep birds from snacking, when draped over strawberry plants.)

Good luck! :ok: 
If you stare at this picture long enough you should be able to see a giraffe.
                                   
                             Happy Mental Health Day!!
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