July Garden Question of the Month!
Hello Garden Friends!
I’d like to share the question of the month with you! A gardener reached out to me recently with a lettuce mystery, and I thought the conversation might be helpful to all. Check it out!
Q: Hi Rachel, I noticed within the last week one of my lettuce plants has been munched on to death by some tiny red ants (pictures included). The other two lettuces are still healthy, but I don’t want to lose those. What could I do to combat these little red ant looking insects?
A: Thanks for your question! I'm so sorry to hear about your lettuce - how frustrating! Usually ants don't attack healthy living plants, but they will bother plants that are injured, diseased, or stressed, and they also "farm" aphids. The troubled lettuce in your photo looks scorched to me, and I wonder if it's been sunburnt... lettuce doesn't usually like being hot, or dry. I might try a few things.
- Trim off all the affected leaves on the worst lettuce. You may have to cut nearly the whole lettuce down.
- Lettuce likes nitrogen. You might try buying something like bonemeal or fish emulsion (you can get either at Agway or Aubuchon), and apply to your soil using the package directions. As we're moving in to the warmer/sunnier months, you could also try setting up some shade over your lettuce. Either garden center should be able to help if you say you're looking for a summer-weight shade cloth for your lettuces. You can do this many ways. Some people use hoops, some build little square trellises.
- As we're moving in to the warmer/sunnier months, you could also try setting up some shade over your lettuce. Either garden center should be able to help if you say you're looking for a summer-weight shade cloth for your lettuces. You can do this many ways. Some people use hoops, some build little square trellises.
Here are some photos of shaing lettuce:
- Lettuce doesn't like being dry. Water the soil gently and thoroughly, and then add mulch to keep it at an even moisture level. I like chopped straw, but lots of different things work.
- If none of this helps, there are some deterrents and treatments for ants, and you can read more about those here.
I'm happy to help, so if you have any questions about any of this, or want any help trying to use some of the strategies, let me know and we'll set up a time! I hope this has been helpful!
Written by: Rachel Brice
Urban Ag & Gardens Coordinator