Known as Tetranychidae in the scientific world, and simply Spider Mites to farmers, these common crop destroying pests seem to come with the job description. There are many subspecies of spider mites, and our focus today is on the Two-Spotted Spider Mite. Some of the unique species of spider mite are much more easily identified than others; however, it is generally unwise to try, as their control measures, damage and biology are all the same.
Identification & Life Cycle
Spider mite populations WILL proliferate under the right conditions. Unfortunately, these conditions exist in many indoor gardening spaces - basically, warm with very little wind. Infestation damage can be identified by the telltale sign of the webbing they produce on your plant leaves. Inspecting for spider mites and other pests should be done daily. What you need to understand is that by the time you see webbing, it may be too late to control the population.
The four life stages of Spider Mites:
The species females lay between 50-100 eggs throughout their lives with unfertilized eggs hatching as males and fertilized eggs hatching as females. Spider Mites often begin to hatch their eggs within 72 hours.
The length of a spider mite's life cycle depends specifically on their environmental conditions, with the ideal temperature being the major contributing factor. An entire spider mite generation can be completed in under a week if all conditions are favorable for rapid growth.
How Spider Mites Damage Your Plants
Spider Mites damage plant leaf matter by ingesting juices from the leaves. Additional signs of spider mite damage are curled up and "burned" leaf edges, as well as leaves that have taken on a silky leather-ish texture. The silky webbing is predominant when mite populations have boomed within your garden.
through hot spells, which will help control spider mite populations.
The Best Method: Organic Biological Controls
This is ideal for spider mite control during your plants' flowering stage. Learn to introduce beneficial mites as a proactive measure after knocking down larger spider mite populations for continued monitoring and successful eradication.
Predatory Mites are an effective organic biological control for use against the two-spotted spider mite. These natural enemies do not injure plants, feed on other insects, or bite human beings. Once released, these predatory mites will immediately begin searching for water and a food source on the underside of your plants' leaves. Your biological control measures of a small to medium infestation should occur naturally within three to four weeks.
As a farmer dealing with massive outbreaks in a commercial farm, a second release is usually required to stay aggressive with organic eradication methods. On severely infected plants, silk webbing and feeding marks will be visible. You must reduce the pest infestation before releasing your predatory mites. Consider spraying with organic insecticidal soap, BUT ONLY if your plants are still in the vegetative growth stage.
Here’s a rough guide for how many predatory mites you will need to control a given infestation:
• 1-2 per Infected Leaf
• 20-30 per Medium-Sized Plant (like broccoli)
• 2,000 per 700+ Square Feet
Well Known Spider Mite Predators
Well Known Spider Mite Destroyers
When the right proactive steps are taken, controlling and eliminating spider mites using biological methods is not difficult. It just takes some careful observation and attention to your plants, and knowing the right predatory mites to use. In this way, you can avoid using any toxic chemicals and/or ruining the quality of your crops.
Barley grains are a vibrant source of microbes, with a wide range of bacteria, fungi, and yeasts colonizing the area between the husk and the pericarp (fruit outer wall). Malted Barley is simply Barley that has been sprouted at its highest level of enzymatic activity, and then quickly freeze-dried to preserve its freshness and effectiveness. Malted Barley introduces new enzymes that make nutrients more bio-available to plants. The enzymatic recipe found below creates enzymes that break down dead organic matter more efficiently than the vast majority of bottled products from the garden store (with one exception that we’ll talk about later). This style of top feeding or brewing a sprouted seed tea using malted barley will add another differentiating factor to your gardening playbook.
Farmers and gardeners who employ this method have used malted barley as an effective way to make their own enzyme rich sprouted seed tea without all of the hassles of learning to sprout the seeds themselves, as this is a bit of an art form. These high-end seeds (Tibetan Purple Barley being the absolute best) have been scientifically grown to produce the highest and most robust enzymes possible. The organic and scientific methods of seed germination used are far superior to the home sprouting techniques we are used to seeing today.
Advantages of Using Organic Malt Barley
Malt extract is actually a natural by-product of the beer brewing process. This simple material contains vital plant nutrients such as potassium and nitrogen, in addition to the highly coveted enzymes. In addition to adding nutrients, malt extract used as a fertilizer encourages the growth of extremely beneficial soil microorganisms while killing off non-beneficial soil microorganisms, such as the infamous root-feeding nematode. Root feeding Nematodes are non-segmented microscopic worms that consume plant roots and stems. Over time, they will eventually kill all of the plants they come into contact with.
During the malting process, the grains are made to germinate under strict conditions to facilitate the development of internally present enzymes. These enzymes catalyze the degradation of the starchy cell walls of the grain in the presence of water, modifying the structure of the barley endosperm. Once germinated, the grain is dried under conditions designed to prevent the denaturing of those newly created enzymes.
Enzyme counts are noticeably more elevated when you take the time to use this method correctly. Remember that quality organic barley is paramount, as anything non-organic may be compromised with toxins or chemicals that can hinder biological processes. With the right, high quality material, the bacteria and fungi found on Malted Barley Grains can produce biologically significant levels of indole-3-acetic acid (IAA), a vital plant growth hormone that promotes cell division and is involved in the coordination and development of plant organs.
Malted Barley Options
Freshness with malted barley is just as important as the freshness of your coffee beans. When a coffee connoisseur makes a cup for themselves, they always prefer to grind the beans fresh. This is the same for your plants. Simply use an emulsifier like a "Magic Bullet" and grind the seed into a fine powder; otherwise, using milled Malted Barley to save time and effort is the second-best option.
Certified Organic Barley is more expensive than traditional Barley but will be thoroughly cleaned and ready for sprouted teas for your garden. You can even consume this quality of barley for your own specific health benefits.
The Premium Tibetan Purple Barley is the highest quality organic barley product we have ever used. Look for more articles from Everflux Technologies about this amazing seed. Quality input equals quality output!
Super Sprouted Tea Malted Barley Recipe
(Credit: Clackamas Coots)