Here’s a new question that came in this week:
“Dear Gardenerd, How do I keep the pesky ants off of my precious
artichokes? I soaked the ones I harvested and still found some. . .
ugh! Please help! – No Ants On My Tree”
Ants are, in and of themselves, not harmful to a garden. That said, they are the harbinger of bad things because they have a symbiotic relationship with aphids. They consume the sticky sweet sap that aphids excrete and in exchange they will take the aphids from place to place. It’s the ultimate dealer-junkie relationship.
There are several things you can do to help your artichoke along:
1) You did well to spray the heck out of them. A strong blast of water will displace the cozy critters and make them relocate for the time being.
2) Use sunlight to your advantage – you can place tin foil under the plant and it will reflect light up to the undersides of the leaves. Aphids like dark places to live, so if you take that away from them, they’ll move.
3) Ant bait – there are ant baits that are approved for organic gardening. The ants eat the bait and take it back home to share. Bye-bye ants. Here’s one you can try:
4) You can also use diatomaceous earth or baited diatomaceous earth. DE is comprised of single-celled fossilized organisms from a billion years ago. It is sharp and pokes holes in soft bodied (and some hard bodied) pests and dehydrated them.
5) Feed the soil. Lay down and scratch in a layer of worm castings to help give the artichoke a boost. That often times can help increase the strength of the plant, which helps deter pests.
Try these things and report back your findings.
Thanks for writing in.