Tip of the Week: Mail-order mite kills bindweed
If you've gardened for even a few weeks in Colorado, you probably have a serious dislike for bindweed. It looks like a miniature version of morning glory that seems like it will take over a garden almost overnight.
This vining and flowering plant starts out growing along the grounduntil it finds a vertical structure such as a tomato cage, trellis or fence to grab. Then it shoots upward grabbing and wrapping itself around the vertical form as it grows.
Simply put, bindweed is a nuisance. In more technical terms, it's a noxious weed that's difficult to control. However, thanks to the Colorado Department of Agriculture, you can order a mite you can't even see that can kill bindweed in your yard.
Get the killer mite
Through the "Request-A-Bug" program available from the Dept. of Ag., homeowners may purchase a biological pest control to deal with bindweed in their veggie gardens and yards. The Insectary imports, rears, establishes and colonizes beneficial organisms to control specific plant and insect problems such as bindweed.
For bindweed, the control is a microscopic mite that homeowners may order from the Request-A-Bug program. Supplies are limited and vary year to year. Consequently, the Insectary may not be able to provide mites for every request per season.
The process begins by submitting a request and when mites are ready for release, a manager contacts the person to collect payment and make sure someone can receive the mites via overnight shipment. The recipient's package includes a piece of bindweed with mites on it and instructions for how to release them.
The advantages of biological controls include lessening or eliminating the use of pesticides and establishment of useful populations of predatory insects. As with other treatments, more than one control might be required.
Bindweed in lawns
Bindweed will grow in poor soil where other plants cannot grow. But when soil is improved and planted with other plants that spread densely, bindweed may be choked out by the competing plants. In lawn areas, proper fertilization and providing consistent, adequate water builds a healthy lawn that will crowd out bindweed and other undesirables.
Other treatment options
Spray-on products such as glyphosate (Roundup), Weed B Gon and 2, 4-D should not be applied in or near edible gardens. Some of these products are non-selective in that they will kill any plant that is green. Others are selective, meaning they treat selected plants such as broad-leaf weeds growing in the lawn, but won't kill the grass.
Whatever means is selected for weed treatment, follow the label instructions for safety and application rates precisely and know that "more is not better" when it comes to weed control. Recommended application rates on the product label are optimum.
Please email our team at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on mites.