Rising Issues: Coping with pesky rodents

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Q: We have a number of established strawberry-rhubarb plants that have been giving us wonderful rhubarb for many years. In mid-July 2019, the underside of the leaves was covered with what appeared to be black aphids. I use insecticidal soap that doesn’t seem to do anything.

I pulled the whole rhubarb and put it in the trash. I covered the patch with Eco-Way Bug Killer. Last spring the rhubarb grew well and was covered with aphids again in mid-July. I also put diatomaceous earth and eggshells around the plants.

Do you have any suggestions for me? I want to get rid of these aphids for good and I don’t have the same problem in 2021.

ON: The insecticidal soap will work, but there are several tips:

• Monitor the plants in spring and apply the insecticidal soap at the first sign of aphids. You have to be vigilant. They multiply so quickly that if you just wait a day or two, it’s a full invasion
• Reapply the insecticidal soap every 2-3 days for at least 2-3 weeks. These tiny animals are constantly hatching new members, so the only way to control them is with regular beating.
• Monitor the rest of the summer

If you want to use diatomaceous earth, you need to dust the top and bottom of the leaves. You really need to use a duster to do this. If the soil gets wet, it will need to be reapplied.

Q: Her advice on a previous gardening issue provided a real home run. I hope you can help me with another.

I planted a few peonies two years ago. Neither has nor produced any flowers. The plants are in a sunny spot in front of a white fence, have good soil and are fertilized monthly (all-purpose fertilizer for flowering plants).