Q: I need help with two issues, the first is white fly. What can I use on tomatoes and other plants? My other issue is voles. We have used milky spore in the yard with great results. However, in the beds that is another story. I gave up on trying to have lilies, there seems to be nothing to keep them away. When I plant my tomatoes I put the root ball inside of a wire mesh gutter downspout, which works well. We have tried traps without any luck. Suggestions? Nancy
A: Dear Nancy,
If people with plant problems keep asking for "two-fers," I'm going to go start charging for my excellent advice. But just to show how magnanimous I am, I'll treat these as a freebie.
White Flies on Tomatoes The insect in question is called the greenhouse whitefly for good reason: 1) it's white; 2) it flies; 3) it spreads to practically all plants grown in a greenhouse, like your tomato plants. The best way to prevent this problem is to start your own tomato plants, but that's probably not an option. To get a quick knock-down, spray according to label directions with a natural plant-based insecticide like rotenone-pyrethrin. Then put out some yellow sticky cards. Apparently, whiteflies find yellow irresistible, land on the sticky cards, and freeloading relatives, never leave. You can order both products from www.planetnatural.com.
Voles These mouselike rodents are one of the worst animal pests a garden can have. Unlike moles, which eat only worms and grubs, voles chew through roots and stems. They love heavily mulched gardens because they can hide from predators and do their dirty work. So if you mulch your plants, pull it away. Enclosing roots and bulbs inside wire cages at planting time is a good defense. Traps are hit-and-miss. Working lots of expanded slate (Perma Till) into the soil as you're planting also discourages these rodents. (Go to www.permatill.com to find a local retail source.) The good news is that voles are like lemmings. Their populations tend to boom and then crash. So maybe they won't be so bad next year. Grumpy