Rosenthal: To Control Marijuana Pests, Know Your Enemy
Every cannabis grower knows that there are lots of pests and diseases which can screw up those plans for a big harvest. Some live in the soil, and some are airborne. They can be barely visible, like spider mites or thrips, or they can weigh hundreds of pounds, like deer.
Cultivation expert Ed Rosenthal’s new book, Marijuana Pest & Disease Control, offers a serious look at 21 pests and diseases likely to strike not only cannabis crops, but flower and vegetable gardens as well. While the book’s focus is marijuana-specific, the book covers problems faced by all gardeners.
A partial list of pests covered includes aphids, spider mites, ants, whiteflies, powdery mildew, stem rot, and mammals such as gophers and rats. While your Cousin Bob — the stoner who thinks that, since you grow a couple plants, you’ve taken him to raise — isn’t covered in the book, practically every other marijuana pest is.
By understanding your opponents’ strengths and weaknesses you can make smarter decisions about how to combat them. Appropriately, the first part of the book details the life and times of the pest or disease: what and how it eats, reproduces, and its idiosyncrasies and vulnerabilities. Then it shows you how to repel or kill it.
“This book has a fundamentally different perspective than most pest control books,” Rosenthal told Toke of the Town Thursday afternoon. “The book looks at the insect from the insect’s point of view, and at the pest from the pest’s point of view — where it hangs out, what it likes and what it doesn’t like.
“It’s a more holistic view of the pest, and then it tells you how to deal with it,” Rosenthal explained. “We tried to make it as interesting as possible, which wasn’t difficult, because it’s a very interesting area.
“Not only is it interesting to know how they work and live, but it’s also important to have that knowledge in order to be able to get rid of them,” Rosenthal told us. “That means you can really target the problem rather than going in with some kind of a bomb or something that’s going to affect the whole environment.
“Of all the controls we have in the book, there are no ingredients that you can’t pronounce the names of,” Rosenthal said. “It also deals with barriers, as in preventing the pest from getting in in the first place, rather than trying to get rid of it.
“We also talk about using bio-controls, that is, using living organisms to fight the pests,” Rosenthal said. “Once you get past the point of thinking ‘insects are boring; I don’t want to know anything about them,’ they are some really fascinating things. They are perfectly adapted to their environments.
“Researching this book gave me a new appreciation of these organisms and their unique roles in nature,” Ed said. “Most of the time we underestimate them, denigrating their attributes and their amazing capabilities and their ability to evolve quickly. They are formidable but they can be beaten using methods based on information and science.”
For each pest or disease covered, several possible remedies are discussed, so gardeners can pick the solutions best suited to their own operations. Ed is adamant that dangerous chemicals should not be used in the garden, especially on a crop that will be ingested.
All the solutions and controls in Part 2, “The Problem Solvers,” are safe for both the gardener and the environment. Marijuana Pest & Disease Control relies on barriers, biological controls, plant-based and other natural pesticides and fungicides to satisfy growers’ needs for fast, effective results.
Ultimately, Rosenthal believes that no matter the plant, a gardener should never be forced to resort to using potentially dangerous means in order to enjoy their crop. Rule #1: If you can’t pronounce the ingredients on the label, don’t use it.
Rosenthal has studied the cannabis plant and contributed to its literature for more than 35 years. His “Ask Ed” marijuana advice column ran in High Times magazine for 25 years, and his last cultivation book, Marijuana Grower’s Handbook, has revolutionized the way marijuana is grown.
The book is full color with more than 100 photos and illustrations, making this 8″x10″ volume a good-looking book. It’s written with Ed’s inimitable wry humor such as his list of “Similarities Between Ants and Humans” that concludes with this observation:
“Individual ants cannot survive alone. They need the community.”
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