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Right when we should be enjoying our first crop of radishes, we find they are riddled with holes, apparently caused by tiny white worms found on the roots. If we sow seeds again, will the same thing happen? What should we do? Cabbage maggots, which also attack radishes, are from eggs laid by a one-quarter-inch gray fly with black stripes. Often, early-planted radishes and those planted late in the fall are the most infested.
Why don't you try making another planting in a different area.
Some of the nonpoisonous methods of control are: covering the row with cheesecloth after planting to keep out the fly; dusting the seeds with wood ashes after they are planted to repel the fly; and soaking seeds in kerosene for half an hour before planting. The latter was passed along to us by an old-time gardener who has never had a radish maggot.
I notice that where the leaves of my largest African violet touch the edge of the clay pot, they get a brown spot and wilt at that point. My other violets are in plastic pots and never seem to have this trouble. Clay pots are porous and fertilizer salts work their way into the pores. When they work into the rim of the pot, especially if the rim is rough, the contact with the stem causes a fertilizer ''burn.'' This, in turn, harms the plant's ''plumbing'' at that point and the leaf wilts.
You can use a strip of smooth aluminum foil to fold over the rim so that the stem rests on the foil instead of the clay edge. Or you can slip the plant out of the pot and dip the rim in melted paraffin wax to make a smooth, coated surface on which the leaves can rest.
We have a garbage can full of wood ashes left from our fireplace. Could we use these on our vegetable garden? If so, could we apply it now, after our plants are already up?
If your soil has had no lime in the past three or four years, chances are you will not run the risk of making it too alkaline by applying a light coating of ashes in between the rows of your vegetables. Avoid using it on potatoes. It might make them scabby, since they prefer a slightly acid soil.
Another benefit is that ashes repel many insects. Slugs don't like to crawl over ashes, and a dusting over your tomatoes and other crops will repel flea beetles. Save some to dust around the base and stems of squash and cucumbers, just as they start to run or bush out.
Some readers have reported that they help repel the moth that lays the eggs of the squash vine borer. Incidentally, we're happy to have tips on natural pest control from our readers.
Is there a nontoxic method of keeping worms out of the ears of our corn? Last year we found them in over 50 percent of the ears. Adult moths of the corn earworm lay eggs on silks when these are three to seven days out of the ear. An old-fashioned method of treatment, that of squirting mineral oil down into the tip of the ear at this stage, keeps moths from laying the eggs or kills eggs as they are laid. An eyedropper works well. Another method that has worked well for us is to use talcum powder. We buy the powder in plastic containers that can be squeezed to force the powder down into the silk.
Is dishwater safe to use on the plants in our garden? Liquid detergents now used for handwashing dishes are safe to use on plants outdoors. Dishwasher water is also OK to use about once weekly, if it is run into pails and diluted with the rinse water, 1 part per 2 parts rinse water. You should dilute all the dishwater with rinse water every few days, as some detergents are more concentrated than others.