36June 24, 2015
According to the calendar, summer is officially here. Summer in the garden means lots of new growth on your plants, new flowers coming out each day and the beginning of the bountiful harvest in your vegetable garden. The old saying that you take the good with the bad can apply to your gardens. You need to be on the lookout for the pest that wants to eat your garden. We have desperately needed the rain that we received on Sunday. The extended forecast is for more showers and possibly thundershowers this week. When the foliage on your plants is constantly wet, it sets up the perfect environment for fungus diseases to attack your plants. Fungus diseases may appear as a white powder on the leaves of your plants or it may appear as brown or black spots on the leaves. Either way, if left untreated, fungus diseases will eventually kill your plants.
There are many different types of fungicides that will help you to keep fungus diseases in check. What you need to know is that there are two different types of fungicides. There are preventative fungicides and there are curative fungicides. As the names would suggest, there are fungicides that prevent diseases. These need to be applied before the disease starts if they are to be effective. Many of the homemade fungicides that you find on the Internet are preventative fungicides.
Once a disease starts, these preventative fungicides are not very effective at stopping a fungus disease. If you have the beginning stages of a fungus disease on your plants, you should use a curative type of fungus control. Using a curative fungicide at the first sign of a disease outbreak can stop the disease in its tracks. All through the summer, you should be checking your plants for signs of fungus diseases and at the first sign of a disease on your plants, treat the plants with an appropriate fungus control on your plants. Fungus diseases on your plants are not the only things that love summer weather and love your plants. Of course, I am talking about insects that can invade your gardens. Let me start with something that isn’t an insect, but loves the wet weather and loves to eat your plants. Slugs and snails are more closely related to clams than they are to insects. Slugs and snails generally only feed at night but may also feed during very cloudy and rainy days. They will generally wait until the sunsets and then leave their hiding places and crawl toward your plants. They will feed on your plants all night and then as the daylight begins to peek over the horizon, they will head back to their hiding places. The damage they do is a distinctly smooth edge cut on the leaves of your plants. The holes may be small or large, depending on which generation is feeding on your plants.
Insecticides will not work on these creatures. You need to apply a slug bait to control them. The bait is applied to the soil around the plants that are being attacked. Once the slugs or snails eat the bait, they will soon die off. So far this season, there hasn’t been any one dominant type of insect that is attacking plants. You will find that caterpillars can be a problem on some of your petunia flowers and you may find some eating the leaves of your other plants.
Caterpillars can also be a problem on your broccoli and cabbage plants. Once you spot the caterpillars, an application of BT will knock them back rather quickly. Beetles of all types and sizes can be a problem on many of your plants. Japanese Beetles will begin to arrive in our gardens around the 4th of July. Yet there are other beetles that attack our plants. Many insecticides are effective against beetles yet they will also kill honeybees. This would include some of the common organic insecticides. If you have plants in bloom, you must be careful to not apply an insecticide that is toxic to bees. There will be many other types of insects and diseases attacking your plants during the garden season. If you are having a problem, you can take a leaf off your plants and put it into a clear plastic bag and bring it to our store and we can usually tell you what is attacking your plant. If you see an insect on the leaf, take the leaf and the insect and put both into the bag. Once we know if it is an insect or disease attacking your plants, we can get you the best remedy for your problem.
Please don’t just take a photo of the problem with your cell phone or tablet. In many cases the photo isn’t of sufficient quality to allow us to correctly identify the problem. Well, that’s all for this week. I’ll talk to you again next week.