Monthly Archives: March 2014

Getting Compost Started

Getting Compost StartedIt is time for getting compost started again.  It is now March and it is time to start a new batch of compost in the Compostumbler.  I threw in a bag of leaves saved from the fall.  These leaves are not shredded.  Ideally it is best to shred the leaves.  The compost matures much faster with shredded leaves.  But I need to get this started and I don’t have time to shred the leaves.  I have too many kitchen scraps saved from the winter and they need to be composted!  You can see in the picture some of the kitchen scraps thrown in with the leaves.

Throughout the winter I don’t put compost in my compostumbler.  I cover it to preserve it from the weather.  The tumbler is made of metal so I don’t think it would be good to have compost in there freezing and re-freezing.

Getting Compost Started With Saved Kitchen Scraps

Compost in Galvanized PailSo what do you do with all the kitchen scraps during the winter.  I use small galvanized trash cans to store some of it.  These trash cans have locking lids so no animals can get into the food scraps. This winter it was so cold I stored some kitchen scraps in the shed in plastic ziplock bags.  During a warmer winter I wouldn’t do this.  This winter I think the kitchen scraps were frozen most of the  time.  Sometimes I store bags of kitchen scraps in my freezer if I have space.  It was a great relief to get all those kitchen scraps into the composter.  And to get started on another year of great compost making!  Here is more information on getting compost started from the University of Illinois Extension.

Spotted Wing Drosophila Fruit Fly Trap

What is a spotted wing drosophila fruit fly trap?  In my last post I introduced the spotted wing drosophila fruit fly and how damaging it is.   I included a video actually showing the larvae crawling around in the raspberry.  This is an invasive pest that has been showing up on the East Coast the last few years.  It damages all soft fruits including raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, peaches etc.

I like to garden organically so I didn’t want to use pesticides to get rid of this pest.  It is tricky to use the pesticides because you have got to kill the fruit flies before they lay their eggs.  Sometimes gardeners and farmers aren’t even aware that the spotted wing drosophila is in their neighborhood laying eggs on the “not quite” ripe fruit.

University extensions are recommending this spotted wing drosophila fruit fly trap.  They say to use it and check it often to see if you actually have the fruit fly in your garden or on your farm.  The extensions don’t feel that this trap will eliminate them.  I used this trap last year.  Though I didn’t eliminate the pest I reduced the numbers.  I actually harvested some raspberries that were not infested.

Two recommendations are:

  1. If your raspberries bear in the spring and late summer then you have a much better chance of having raspberries that are not infested in the spring though you should still check the traps to see if you have the SWD(spotted wing drosophila.)
  2. Pick ALL your raspberries even if they are infested and throw them in the trash.  Don’t  let the larvae mature into more fruit flies. Don’t even compost them because they could survive if your compost pile is not very hot.

Making a Spotted Wing Drosophila Fruit Fly Trap

What is a spotted wing drosophila fruit fly trapI made this trap by taking half gallon milk containers and poking holes in the top half of the container.  Then I filled it with an inch of apple cider vinegar and hung them around the raspberries.  I used about 5-6 containers in my small raspberry patch.  I changed the vinegar every week or so and it was full of dead fruit flies.  In the beginning I changed it often but as the summer progressed I changed it less often.  Though this did not eliminate the fruit fly, there were fewer of them and I did get some good raspberries.  I usually check every raspberry now before I save them to make sure that there are no larvae in them.