14December 16, 2015
They weather continues to remain warmer than normal. The extended forecast calls for the weather to get colder by Saturday. All things considered, we have been very lucky that we haven’t had any extremely cold weather.
Where is your garden hose? Now I have your attention! You need to unpack that garden hose and water your shrubs. In the fall and early winter, your shrubs take up water and store that water in the twigs, branches and in some cases the leaves. This stored water gets pulled out of your plants by the strong coastal winds. These winds tend to contain dry air. The dry wind pulls the moisture out of your plants. For all the problems we had last winter, the huge amounts of snow actually protected your plants from wind damage. Since we never know the outcome of the winter weather, we need to prepare for the worst weather. In the case of your plants, no snow and cold and windy weather can be the death of the plants. For years, I have been advocating that people water their shrubs, in the fall, once a week until the ground freezes. People always ask me when they should stop watering the plants. My standard answer is if the ground is still thawed on Christmas Eve, you should still be watering your plants. We have had a little bit of rain this fall, but nowhere near enough to give the plants the water that the plants need. At this point in time, you may not want to drag out the hose, but you can probably find that big watering can that you use in the spring. Generally speaking, that big watering can holds two gallons of water. If you gave each shrub two gallons of water it would go a long way to helping your shrubs to survive the winter.
There is still a lot of clamor about the winter moths flying around people’s yards and cluttering up the windows of most houses. The moths are doing what they should be doing this time of the year. The females are mating with the males and then the females are laying egg masses on the trunks of the trees. The moths that you see on your windows are the males. The males are attracted to the light the same way moths in the spring and summer are attracted to your lights. Very shortly the moths will begin to die off, but the damage will have been done. The egg masses laid by the females are in place and those eggs will hatch out in the spring as soon as the leaves form on your trees. If you have blueberry bushes, the eggs will hatch as soon as the flower buds begin to swell. The caterpillars will eat the flower buds before the flowers get a chance to open. The caterpillars will damage the leaves on your trees. With the numbers of moths that have been seen this early winter, there is going to be a tremendous hatch of caterpillars this spring. As I have told my customers, if you thought the caterpillars were horrible last spring, they will be monumentally worse this coming spring. As we get closer to spring, I will write an article about what you need to do to minimize the damage from the caterpillars. The key to success on the control of the caterpillars is timing the application of insecticides to kill the caterpillars before they do major damage. If you delay putting control methods in place at the proper time, you are going to have major damage to the leaves of your trees and other plants.
Well, that’s all for this week. I’ll talk to you again next week.