Thursday, April 15, 2010

Pest Paranoia FAIL

RIP Okra var. N-S Hybrid
Okay, so I consider myself a fairly talented gardener. I know how to get production out of very limiting conditions, and I know how to make it look easy. For example, I enjoy growing southern plants, and have learned that doing so successfully means an extended growing season indoors "under the lights." I know how to manage air, soil, water, light, and heat to make those things all work together. Yup, I'm pretty good.
However, I am not immune to the 3-headed monster of paranoia, overzealousness, and over-reaction. I fell victim to it again yesterday. Any of you who garden indoors know that pest control is critical to the success of the indoor garden. Thrips, mites, and even aphids can magically find their way into your house and tear up your tender indoor plants. I've been there too many times, and I am over-vigilant (I've already had aphids this year, and just started indoors on February 26!).
So, I had a very good set of Burpee Okra var. North-South Hybrid going under my "Stage II" lights. Some of the plants were showing a little bit of chlorosis, perhaps from being too close to the lights. I saw no sign of pests, but for the past week, I checked the plants more closely on a daily basis, finding immediately that the undersides of the leaves were covered with tiny clear, hard balls that look suspiciously like insect eggs. Ruh roh! Every day there were more, and indeed, the "eggs" were popping off of the leaves and landing on the soil.
I couldn't find anything on the internet, and I began to fear that all of my tiny summer plants would succumb to this pest, which would emerge from the tiny clear eggs like Rodan, or worse yet, Mothra. So, in complete haste and partial fear, I culled the okra plants. All of them. Dead.
Relieved (and hoping that none of the extra eggs in the soil turned into a home-destroying Rodan overnight), I searched the internet one more time and found out that the "eggs" are some sort of product of high-level plant transpiration, and not pests at all. In other words, the plants were trying to tell me that they were kicking ass, processing beaucoups nutrients and growing as fast as possible - the Super Okra. Not, in fact, dying from an infestation of movie monster proporitions.
I'm in shock - and embarassed - that I over-reacted and lost 6 weeks of TLC on those plants for no good reason. I'm out of seed and haven't decided if I should try another round.
What do you think?


Anonymous said...

Oh that sucks!

Personally, I would give it another go because really, is there a reason not to?

Swamp Thing said...

Well, 1 little comment is hardly peer pressure, but today I did pick up a pack of Clemson Spineless (a larger, trickier variety to grow this far north). I may actually plant them directly since our (avg) last frost date is April 20.

biobabbler said...

Oh, wow. You poor thing. I agree with kmurray--when I was planting my 1st garden up in WA state, I was VERY late, considering bailing, and my (somewhat exasperated) friend said "Plant it anyhow. What can it hurt?" And I did. And I got one ear of corn. But one GORGEOUS, perfect ear of the prettiest, plumpest corn you've ever seen. From among a bunch of other stuff in a 4x4 raised bed.

So, why the heck not? Plus, it'll entertain us.... =)