Ants Crawling In Citrus & Tiny Beets

Question:

My lemon produces lots of lemons every year and has been trouble free. However, this year the bush to is just crawling with ants. What can I safely spray to control them?       

Answer:

  • It’s highly unlikely that ants would damage your lemon or any other plant. They do not cause leaves to turn yellow nor do they create holes or chew on the leaves. Instead, ants make a nuisance out of themselves searching for sugary-based proteins.
    • On citrus, they’re primarily looking for food in the flower nectar, from the secretions of insects or both. For nectar, their activity is centered on the flowers. If it’s insects, they’re throughout the canopy.
    • They’re feeding on the clear, sticky residue called Honey Dew produced by Aphids, Scale and maybe Mealybugs. Ants have been known to ferry Aphids around from plant to plant to sustain their dietary needs.
    • Aphids are present in the spring on the new emerging growth while Scale is found year round.
    • Scale is the raised areas or bumps located on leaves, stems, and branches. They could be mahogany, brown, tan or black.
    • Mealybug is a white fuzzy material on stems of leaves, but they’re not your problem.It’s not necessary to spray for ants. Instead, you eliminate their incentive to be in the plant by controlling the insets.
    • All Season Oil or similar product controls both Aphids and Scale, and it is safe to use on edibles. Insecticidal Soap is another control for the Aphids.
  •  You do not want to spray while the citrus is in bloom as it disrupts pollination and affects the fruit set.
  • Once the ants are out of the canopy, you can prevent them from returning by applying a two-inch band of Tanglefoot or Pest Barrier on the trunk about two feet off the ground.
    • Tanglefoot/Pest Barrier is a sticky resin that traps the ants so they can’t proceed upward. Periodically, you scrape off the old material and reapply a new barrier.

Question:

I'm having a problem with my beets. The foliage is lush and green, but the beets were tiny. I grew them last year without a problem. What has happen?       

Answer:

  • Undersize or small beets, carrots, radishes, etc. is caused primarily by an excessive amount of Nitrogen. Nitrogen is one of the primary element for plant growth that produces green growth.
    •  Nitrogen forces the plant into a growing-spurt which gives you lots of top growth and little to no roots. So the edible portion never fully develops as the plant is too busy growing. I’d plant again but first, review the amount of vegetable food and or animal manure you are using and reduce it significantly.
  • A second reason can be overcrowding. The beet seedlings need to be thinned to one to three inches apart and space the rows a foot apart. This allows sufficient space for them to develop.