How to protect your house from the invasion of the crickets

BACKYARD Q&A

In The Garden

September 19, 2004|By Jon Traunfeld and Ellen Nibali | Jon Traunfeld and Ellen Nibali,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

We have a cricket invasion in our basement. How do we get rid of them in a safe, environmentally friendly manner?

Begin by cricket-proofing your house. Repair or replace weatherstripping, apply caulk to cracks, use insulating foam around basement window frames, dryer vents or other outside openings. Also, clean up hiding places that draw crickets to your homeM-Fs foundation, such as decaying leaf or lumber piles. Crickets are attracted to lights at night, so turn off outside lights and draw shades. Dehumidify your basement.

If your crickets are keeping you up at night, scoop them into a container and release them outside. The black field cricket will not breed indoors and dies after a couple of weeks inside.

Crickets are a gardenerM-Fs friend. Voracious weed-seed eaters, they can consume an astonishing 223 seeds in just 24 hours. We have a helpful cricket publication that you can access by visiting our Web site.

I am seeking advice on a cover crop to sow in my planned vegetable patch. I want to till under the crop as green manure in hopes of a perfectly prepared area for maximum food production next year.

For fall planting (late August- Oct. 1), try winter wheat, winter rye, oats, crimson clover or hairy vetch. The last two are legumes and add nitrogen to the soil. Remove existing weeds, rake the soil, then broadcast the cover crop seed. These cover crops will make fall growth, go dormant and resume growing in the spring. Turn under by hand or rototill as soon as possible in the spring. Those that overwinter (all but the oats) make fast growth and can become difficult to manage, setting seed and growing a vast root system if allowed to linger. Prompt turnover allows time for them to decompose before planting.

Cover crops improve soil structure, as well as adding plant nutrients and preventing soil erosion. YouM-Fre well on your way to a productive vegetable garden.

Checklist

1. This is a good time to prepare your soil for planting fruit bushes or trees next spring. Select a full-sun location that is well-drained and work in lots of organic matter this fall.

2. Now is a good time to move plants back inside. Repotting is a good idea to make sure there are no insects such as ants nesting in the pot.

3. Fertilize your cool-season lawn (fescue, bluegrass) with 2 pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet of lawn. Call our hotline or view our online turf publications for more information.

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