What’s Eating My Basil & Why-No Plums This Year

Question:

I’m growing Basil in a planter, but it’s being eaten alive, except I don’t see any bugs. My mother says it could be snails and gave me a roll of copper barrier tape to use to keep the snails out. Should the copper tape be wrapped all the way around the box?  Would one of the soap products be a better solution?

Answer:

  •  Insecticidal Soap or any soap product is ineffective in controlling snails and slugs.
    • Insecticidal Soap is an effective solution for controlling soft body, sucking insects such as Aphids, Mealybugs, Mites, and Scale.
    • Also, It's not recommended for controlling those insects or pests that chew holes in the leaves of plant(s) such as caterpillars, worms, or beetles.
    • Insecticidal Soap is a contact spray, so the insects need to be present. They are safe to use on edibles because there is no residual left on the plants. So, you avoid spraying when no insects are visible.
  •  The copper barrier tape is a solution that stops the forward progress of snails and slugs, but it will not kill them. It should be wrapped all the way around the planter box to establish the barrier.
    • You could place the tape under the lip of the planter, or any other inconspicuous location is preferable. Actually, the placement doesn’t matter.
    • The copper barrier tape should last about two years before it deteriorates. A very long-term solution is Copper Plumbers Tape available at most home improvement retailer.
    • The planter has a better chance of falling apart before the copper tape needs to be replaced.
  •  Another option is Sluggo Plus. Sluggo Plus is an environmentally friendly slug and snail bait that is safe to use around edibles. It would be applied to the soil. Slugs, Snails, and Earwigs would consume the bait at night and then return to their habitat and die. Sluggo Plus is reapplied monthly.

Question:

I have a plum tree that produced very little fruit this year. In the past, it’s been incredibly prolific with literally a thousand plums every year.  The tree remains healthy, so it seems. I didn’t prune it much over the winter, so I don’t think that’s the issue. Did the heavy rains influence it and will rebound next year?

Answer:

  • You are correct that your lack of fruit wasn’t a pruning issue.
    • Plums bear fruit on the second year wood so pruning aggressively would have pruned off the fruiting spurs, and that didn't happen.
    • Mother Nature is to blame for the poor crop this year. Apricots and cherries had a similar issue with the weather. With fruit trees, rainy conditions during the blooming period interferes with pollination, so there is little to no fruit.
  •  Bees are the chief pollinator, and they don’t work in damp, wet conditions.
  •  However, it was a small price to pay to have our water supply replenished.  Things should improve and return to normal next year if it's not raining during the blooming period.