Sunday, February 22, 2009

Using Yellow sticky traps in controlling insects

Yellow Sticky Traps in Hydroponics and Field - By Pritham "metal farmer" Dsouza

One of the most damaging insect pests seen on crops like Egg plants (brinjal), chilli, capsicum, tomato & leafy vegetables like amaranthus, spinach etc is the pesky white fly.

these white flies are very small & in most cases appear like flying power or dust when the plant is shaken or when watering is done. the chemical treatment is using systemic insecticides like dimethoate & malathion, which is simply toxic & very labour intensive.

a very simple method is by using sticky traps as seen below.

for the above trap, i took discarded cornflakes box & flattened them. then using scissors, i cut out the required amount of yellow plastic sheet (easily available in the market) and stapled it to the cardboard box as seen.

then using a gun tacker i stapled it to a long stick as shown.

making it sticky : i then added 1 tiny spoon of used vegetable oil, and smeared the entire yellow sheet both front and back and planted it firmly in my brinjal garden.

the next day, i could see thousands of tiny white spots all spread over the sticky trap. (click on photo to enlarge)

my first impression was , it could have been dust. but on a closer look, it turned out to be the pesky white fly which got caught in the sticky trap & choked to death.(click on photo to enlarge)

the above pic shows an area of about 2 sq inches. (click on photo to enlarge)

why yellow plastic is used? - thats because insects have a special liking to the color yellow. it distracts them from the main plants & turns their attention to a nice big bright yellow death trap, kinda the same effect a light bulb has on night moths & night insects.
since the surface is sticky, the tiny feet & wings get & they die due to suffocation on the oily surface.
This is by far the best method in controlling white flies. its safe, non toxic, chemical & pesticide free & the yellow plastic sheet can be used for upto a month.

it can be re used by washing the sticky trap with soap water, and following the same methods as suggested above.

all content and photos by Pritham Dsouza

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Bottle Gourd Seedlings and Transplanting in Hydroponics

Bottle Gourd Seedlings and Transplanting in Hydroponics by Pritham "Metal Head" D'Souza

Bottle gourd (Lagenaria siceraria) is a widely grown tropical vegetable which has high carbohydrate content. oil can be extracted from the seed kernel and is used in hair care products. the hard shells of the bottle gourd can be used as utensils, or floats in fishing nets and even musical instruments, due to its resonating property.

i decided to try n grow bottle gourd using simplified hydroponics.

the above pic shows bottle gourd germination in plastic tub. i had sowed the seeds on jan 31, 2009 & germination took place within 3 days.

a perfect seedling of bottle gourd 3 days old

the above pic was taken when 3 leaf stage was observed. date was 10th january, 9 days after germination.

very well defined growth

for the photos below , i had simultaneously sowed 12 seeds in a germinating tray. when they were about 2 inches tall i decided to transplant them in growing tubs.

the above pic shows the substrate taking the shape of the germinating tray. looks like a peanut (chikki) sweet

one of the best photos i have taken. see clearly the well formed rooting network, clear and healthy

the actual size of the seedling for transplanting

hole dug using my thumb in the grow substrate

plugging the hole, so to speak

transplanting done.

a closer look at the leaves of the 3 leaf stage seedling shows some blackish residue. that is the bacteria gel solution i used during the initial stages of seedling growth. as the growth stage progresses, the residue(organic in nature) will disappear.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Pollination & Fruiting In Ash Gourd

A pictoral explanation of pollination and fruiting in ash gourd crop (benincasa hispida) by Pritham 'metal farmer' Dsouza

click the photos to enlarge

above is a typical ash gourd patch, with flowering & fruit setting in progress. If one looks closely, there are several irregularities in flower size, leaf color & fruit formation. I hope to show case the process of pollination & some of the problems faced wrt insects & caterpillars thru a set of photos which i have personally clicked.

the above pic shows the growing tip of the vine, which in normal circumstances looks fine.

a closer look reveals that the plant may be suffering from Phyllody, which is caused by leaf hoppers. all the nodes and internodes of the plant get shrunk & give a mottled appearance as seen above. malformation of axillary buds is visible & the leaves fail to attain full size.
Management: safest, & least toxic way is to use dimethoate @2 ml per litre of water , min of 5 sprays every 10 days to prevent the spread of the plant hoppers

above pic shows the development of the buds into flower buds

the above pic is a female flower, notice the round bulge at the bottom of the flower. after pollination , fertilization takes place resulting in the formation of the fruit

a normal ash gourd flower, yet to bloom

the above pic shows the well defined ash gorud flower, bright yellow in color, almost perfect

the above 2 pics shows pollination being done by honey bees. the bright yellow color attracts more than just normal honey bees, but wasps, hornets, butterflies & other pollen collectors.

zoomed pic of honey bee collecting pollen

a tiny wasp collects pollen, but look at the next photo, i have zoomed to show another parastic pest infesting the flower

in the centre, lies the leaf eating caterpillar. (Diaphania indica)

same photo zoomed below

a more clear photo above shows both the insects at work. the bee is busy with its pollen collection, while the caterpillar looks for a place to hide.

the easiest way to detect is to look for excreta of the caterpillar which is generally in pellet form and can be seen in the above photo.

in many cases the caterpillar completely bores a hole in the flower and then the yield is affected severly.

the photo above shows a flower that has already dropped off due to attack by the caterpillar.

once the caterpillar is a bit bigger, it starts to feed on the leaves & as seen in the above pics, causes irreversible damage to the leaves. also notice a pattern of irregular lines, vein banding in the form of a mosaic appearance. it is a virus & is another serious problem caused by aphids and white flies.

  • the caterpillars can be totally controlled by using a combination of profenophos with chlopopyriphos @ 2 ml per litre of water. high concentration neem sprays is effective & neem cake can be used in the soil . just before the caterpillars enter pupal stage, they start to weave a silk coccoon, which is resistant to sprays. so the timing of sprays is very important.
  • aphids can be effectively controlled using garlic sprays, neem sprays(10 ml per litre) and low dose of dimethoate @ 1 ml per litre of water

the forming fruit seen above

if the vines are healthy, fruit formation can be seen at every inter node as seen above.

a much larger size fruit about the size of a tennis ball. one can see formation of ash, from the top

some tender fruits fall prey to daucus cucurbitae fruit fly. the fly bores the fruit & it slowly starts to bleed as seen above. this secretion attracts more harmful insects & the wound is perfect for fungas to thrive.

also after the fruit is formed, one can see the excreta of caterpillars on it. this must be cleaned off before marketing the produce. the excreta fell from the leaves on to the fruit.

in some cases, the developing fruit bud suddenly gets heavily discoloured & dies. there may be several reasons like fruit necrosis or fruit fly.

  • fruit necrosis is caused by a virus transmitted by thrips & can be treated with dimethoate @ 2ml per litre at every 12 days interval.
  • fruit flies can be controlled by using pheromone baits, click here for more

ash gourd can be harvested in about 100 days after sowing. the fruit will ahve a total ash covering & the growing tendril with it starts to dry off. sometimes tapping the fruit to get the desired 'thunk' is also another harvest index.

all photos and content by Pritham 'metal farmer' Denzil Dsouza

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Growing Spinach using Simplified Hydroponics Technique on roof top

Growing Spinach on roof top by Metal Head Pritham D'souza

Spinach on Basella alba is a widely used crop in the region of coastal karnataka. it figures in the top 3 vegetables consumed as staple diet in Dakshina kannada, Mangalore. since it is a long vine that grows, i decided to try and grow it on the roof top of my house using simplified hydroponic technique. read the following

i have used a discarded tomato box as a grower as seen above. make sure that the box is not damaged or has rusty nails.

make a drain hole 1 inch below the bottom using power tool or hand drill as shown above.

use the tank joint to drain the excess water as shown

use black polythene sheet folded as shown which acts as the base of the grower bed

next, use black polythene sheet as shown to cover the walls of the wooden box. note that i used a staple gun (gun tacker) to pin down the sheet to the wooden box

rice husk , washed and dried is a great substrate to use in the grow bed

add washed and dried coconut peat to it. mix in ratio of 50:50 or 30:70 peat to rice husk as shown below

place it on stool or other objects to get desired height. make sure there is a little slope as there should not be excess water logged in the box. it will start to rot the substrate & increase fungal growth
transplant the spinach vines. cut the vines to desired length & transplant. water immediately as shown.
i have used sea algae based organic manure treated with beneficial bacteria for rooting & growth.

since the vines used were cut from the mother source, it must be kept in shade for a few days till the transplanted vines establish themselves.
i will update this post after 10 days to see if the technique works. If it does, then growing spinach in the rains wont be a problem using simplified hydroponics, as the grow bed is portable & can be kept indoors when it rains heavy & can again be kept outdoors when it stops. even if kept ourdoors it should not be a problem as excess water gets drained out anyways.