33July 10, 2011


There seems to be an abundance of insects feeding on all the annual flowers and vegetable plants. The damp and cool weather of the month of May has lead to an increase in the number of slugs feeding in our gardens. Fungus diseases have been common in many gardens. All these things mean that you should be taking daily walks to check out your gardens for signs of pests and diseases. If you can catch problems early, it is much easier to control these problems.

There have been a number of stories in the news about how poison ivy is more common now than it was several years ago. The thought is that a slight rise of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere has made it easier for this plant to grow. There is also the thought that the rise in carbon dioxide has made the poisonous oils in the plant stronger.

This means that many of you will have poison ivy growing in your yard. Naturally, you want to get rid of this plant before it has a chance to spread. Poison ivy is a woody plant. Woody plants are harder to kill with a weed killer because many weed killers won’t work on the plant. There are two main types of weed killers. Selective weed killers are designed to kill the weeds, yet spare other plants. The best example of this is the weed killer you apply to your lawn to kill dandelions and other broadleaf weeds. The weed killer will kill the dandelions, yet generally speaking it won’t hurt the grass. Non-selective weed killers will kill any type of plant. If you applied a non-selective weed killer to your lawn it would kill both the grass and the weeds. Poison ivy killers are non-selective weed killers. This means that you need to be extremely careful in how you apply them in your yard. If you spray the poison ivy and some of the spray gets onto your rose bushes, it will kill the rose bushes too. The problem with poison ivy is that it tends to grow next to other “valuable” plants. Each week, we get at least one customer who has poison ivy growing in the perennial beds. They want a spray that they can apply that will kill the poison ivy, yet won’t hurt the perennials. This is where the problem arises because there isn’t a weed killer that will kill the poison ivy without hurting the perennials.

In this type of case, your options are to pull the poison ivy out. This, of course, means that you have to wear protective clothing and gloves. The other option is to apply the poison ivy killer on a spot treatment. If you apply the weed killer with a paintbrush to just the leaves of the poison ivy, you can control the poison ivy without having an impact on the surrounding plants. You need to be extremely careful because you want to apply just enough weed killer to coat the leaves without having a lot of it drip onto the soil. Some non-selective weed killers will remain active in the soil, killing plant roots. This is why you need to be extra careful when applying poison ivy killer to the leaves.

Gardening can be fun, but when something like poison ivy creeps into your gardens, the fun part goes out the window.

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

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