28July 23, 2014

People often ask me how I come up with topics for this column. Most of the time it is pretty easy. On a given weekend, if 4 or 5 people come into the store with the same gardening problem, it is probably a safe bet that the problem is widespread in many gardens. In a nutshell, that is the easiest way to get ideas for this column.

If you are growing cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli or Brussels sprouts, you probably have seen a cute little white butterfly flitting around your garden. They are cute except for one thing. The female lays eggs on these plants and the eggs hatch into a caterpillar that raises havoc on these plants by eating holes in the leaves. You can control this caterpillar by using a bacterium called Thuricide. This product is mixed with water and applied to the leaves of the plant. The caterpillar eats a bit of the leaf, stops eating and dies in a few days. The product doesn’t hurt the birds that might eat an infected caterpillar and all you have to do is wash the vegetables with water when you harvest the plants. The Thuricide is also effective at controlling the tomato hornworm. The moth that lays the eggs for the hornworm is a night flying moth and it is active at this time of the year. You can protect your tomato plants by applying the Thuricide every 2 weeks.

Apple trees and crabapple trees are showing signs of two different diseases. Apple scab and Cedar apple rust are often on the leaves of the crabapple or apple trees. The apple scab can be easily controlled by an application of fungicide. The cedar apple rust is a complicated matter. If you have leaves on your apple or crabapple that have unusual markings on the leaves, take a few of the leaves and place them in a clear plastic sandwich size bag. If you bring them into the store, we can identify the problem and help you to figure out the best course of action.

Now is the time to place your second application of Tick Tubes. The tubes are used to control the deer ticks that are in your yard. By placing the tick tube in areas where the mice will find the tubes, the mice become your mobile tick killer. This second application is extremely important in cutting down the number of deer ticks in your yard.

If you are growing vegetables, I can’t stress enough that you need to fertilize your vegetable plants on a regular schedule. As long as the plants are growing and have the potential to produce, you should be fertilizing the plants. Tomatoes are a good example of why you fertilize your plants until the frost wipes out the plant. Many tomato varieties will have a huge amount of tomatoes on the plant in September. Yet the tomatoes don’t seem to ripen. The reason is that the plant in the process of ripening the tomatoes uses the potassium in fertilizer. Once people begin to fertilize those plants, it’s magic! The tomatoes begin to ripen! Keep up with fertilizing your plants! This is especially true if you are growing plants in containers. Plants can quickly take up a lot of fertilizer, as the plants grow bigger. Container grown plants also need more watering and the process of watering can wash the fertilizer out of the pot. I’ll say it again. Keep up with fertilizing your flower and vegetable plants.

Well, that’s all for this week. I’ll talk to you again next week.

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