The Northside Signpost Web Edition

An Independent Monthly Newsmagazine Serving the Community since 1989

The Gauntlet

Bark beetles got you down?

Peter C. Benjamin

Some months ago, I penned a column regarding the plight of conifers throughout the Rockies due to the epidemic levels of engraver beetle infestation, particularly in piñon and ponderosa pines. If Signpost readers will recall, I made mention of the causes and effects of this plague and offered a possible solution that I promised to test independently and report on at a future date. Well, my findings are now complete.

The drought we’ve experienced over the course of many months is not over, and although we have received some measurable precipitation of late, the damage to trees and plants continues almost unabated. This is a long-term problem that will take time to repair.

Not only are the conifers under fire from pest and disease but it isn’t much better in other microclimates either. Many cottonwoods and other (so-considered) native species are succumbing. Some housing developments in and near the bosques have been busy removing trees blighted from lack of winter precipitation, and have been forced to flood irrigate by opening fire hydrants—with measured yet limited success. I’ve even witnessed and recommended to private property owners the use of rented water tankers to help alleviate the problem, which has helped when used somewhat proactively but failed miserably when executed retroactively.

My scientist friend that developed the Vita line of products has shown remarkable results in treating bark-beetle infestation and more incredibly has attained almost miraculous results in other applications as well. Currently one of his distributors is making applications of concentrated versions of these products in the wildfire burn areas of Arizona where a half million acres of the largest ponderosa pine forest in the world went up in ashes and smoke. In fact, he is currently treating not only the trees and plants that managed to survive but the soil as well.

Experts in the field have estimated that temperatures within the burn were in excess of eighteen hundred degrees—enough to actually fuse the silica within the sandy soil and create a glazing to the top layer of soil. This non-porous layer of soil does not allow penetration of water, which dehydrated survivors need so desperately while promoting runoff. This isn’t anything new and reminds me of a similar situation after the Malibu, California, wildfires when burning creosote bush produced the same response and was followed by massive mud- and landslides when the rain did come. Applications of the same product have been shown to provide for soil penetration by water and nutrients.

Some of the Gambel oaks that survived in the Payson-Show Low, Arizona, region were so parched by drought and fire that the leaves curled up in a sort of fetal position in anticipation of a slow death. Application of this same product produced an uncurling of the fried and baked leaves and an actual resumption of chlorophyll production and photosynthesis. My own local testing has shown that in a variety of applications, this product has also proved its worth. Case #\Number One: My father-in-law applied the product to his tomato plants after a friend only sparsely watered in his stead while he was a three-week vacation. Upon his return, an application was made on a Sunday morning. By Sunday afternoon, I received a call that the plants looked healthier than before he had gone away. By Wednesday of that week, the plants were setting blossom in anticipation of fruit production. Case Number Two: A friend and homeowner who was highly infested in beetles lost not a single tree after applications. Case Number Three: Ailing aspens on the verge of death put out over two feet of new growth in a single month after application.

I’ll stop there with the case studies, but you may also be interested to know that vegetables grown with this product do not rot. I’ve seen an independent case study showing a tomato that simply desiccated and shriveled after a year’s exposure to a dry climate. There may be some antiaging properties associated with ingestion of food grown using these products, but as this is under research, I’ll not overindulge that notion until the findings are out.

Essentially, this line of products is manufactured from plant minerals and plant extracts. It is certified organic in Colorado and has now been approved for sale in New Mexico. The company is in the process of organic certification here as well. I have found only two products in my career that I believe carry such great benefits in the area of plant care and health. So, based upon my personal experiences, I have decided to become the sole distributor of these products in the Rocky Mountains. If you don’t consider that a personal endorsement, then I don’t know to what greater extent I might go to recommend it. Due to legal liabilities, I cannot guarantee results in any given application by the consumer, but I can say that I have had nothing short of tremendous positive effects in every trial. The price is reasonable, considering the concentration and mix rates, especially when one compares the cost of replacing dead trees.

Because of the immediacy of the situation, I will begin to distribute the Vita line through a corporation I’ve begun to form, but I hope to turn all sales over to garden centers, reputable landscape firms, and grower supply houses by the end of the year. If you’d like to purchase the Vita product line of plant health care products, please see the advertisement in the classified section of this Signpost under Landscaping.


Master gardeners share tips for fall, winter

Home gardeners throughout the Albuquerque area can learn about fall gardening, preparing for winter, and caring for trees and shrubs at a daylong workshop with Sandoval County master gardeners. Experts from the Cooperative Extension Service will help teach a variety of courses from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on September 21. The event will be held at the Meadowlark Senior Center, 4330 Meadowlark Lane SE, in Rio Rancho. Advance registration costs $12 per person or $20 per couple. Day-of-event tickets are $15. Participants are encouraged to bring a sack lunch; beverages will be provided. You may call 867-2582 for further information.


Rio Grande Nature Center calendar

The Rio Grande Nature Center State Park offers free weekend walks led by volunteer naturalists. Saturday and Sunday bird walks begin at 8:30 a.m., and Saturday nature walks begin at 10:00 a.m. through September.

Early childhood outdoor (ECHO) classes are for ages three to five (accompanied by an adult) from 10:00 to 11:30 a.m. The cost is $15. Insects is the subject on September 9, turtles and lizards on September 26.

On September 13 at 8:00 p.m. there will be a free presentation by Steve Cary, State Parks interpreter, entitled “People and the Night Sky.”

At the Grasshopper Games on September 14 at 2:00 p.m. various species of grasshoppers will be captured outside and there will be jumping contests for both grasshoppers and kids. The cost is $5 for one child or $10 for a family.

On September 21 staff members and volunteer naturalist will conduct a free full-moon walk at 7:00 p.m., listening for owls, coyotes, and movements in the brush.

On September 28 from 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. birder Bill Dory will lead a free trip to the Hawkwatch International Research Site in the Manzano Mountains.

The Rio Grande Nature Center State Park is at 2901 Candelaria NW. Advance reservations are required. Call 344-7240 to sign up.





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