40 July 23, 2008

The muggy weather is back.The weather forecast calls for a week of this muggy weather. I guess it’s is time to check the lawns and gardens for signs of fungus diseases.


If you are a regular reader of this column, you will know that any plant that has moisture sitting on the leaves overnight is prey to fungus diseases. This happened several weeks ago when we had this same type of weather pattern. Red thread showed up on lawns and powdery mildew showed up on many of the plants in the flower and vegetable gardens. As the plants grow in your gardens, the amount of leaves increases. The plants get larger and grow closer together. This prevents any air currents from drying out the leaves of the plant. This, in turn, increases the likelihood of fungus diseases getting started on your plants. The dense canopy of foliage also makes it harder to get fungicides on all parts of the plant.


Lawns have grown longer as we have not had the chance to cut the grass due to rainy days and the lawn not having a chance to dry out before we can cut the grass. I guess you could cut the grass when it is wet, but then you have to rake up all of the grass clippings that are so long that they won’t decompose back into the soil. Wet grass also increases the chance that you will be spreading any fungus diseases that is in one part of your lawn to another part of your lawn. Infected blades of grass will stick to the wet mower and finally drop onto the grass and infect a new section of lawn.


Ultimately, there is very little we can do about the weather. You can watch your lawns and gardens and treat them with a fungicide at the first sigh of a fungus disease. In this kind of weather, waiting is only going to allow the problem to get worse. With the dense foliage on your plants, it may be harder to get a fungicide to all parts of the plant. If you don’t have a tank type of garden sprayer, now might be the time to consider buying one. It allows you to pressurize the tank. This allows the spray to be pushed into all parts of the plant.


The rainy weather has caused most of our lawns and gardens to remain lush. This may cause you to forget to fertilize the plants. Water definitely is needed for plant growth. However, plants need fertilizer to grow. When was the last time you fertilized your lawn? At best, lawn fertilizer will feed your lawn for 6 to 8 weeks. Red thread fungus disease on your lawn can be triggered by a lack of fertilizer available to your grass. Your vegetable garden may have lots of leaves, but is it producing the vegetables that you want? Again, a high phosphorous fertilizer will help those vegetable plants to produce flowers and eventually the vegetables you are waiting for. If your window boxes and other container grown annuals are not flowering as well as they were, then they too need some fertilizer. The new varieties of annuals need a steady supply of fertilizer if they are to produce the flowers. It is up to you to provide that fertilizer in container grown plants.


To change thoughts for a minute, what else besides fungus diseases likes this kind of weather? Mosquitoes. Areas of stagnant water in your yard will be breeding grounds for mosquitoes. You should be treating those areas with a product containing Bti. This bacteria kills mosquito larvae without harming birds and other wildlife.


Once the mosquitoes show up, there are some good organic repellents that you can apply to your yard to drive the adult mosquitoes out of your yard.


You thought that with the middle of summer being here that you had nothing to do in the garden. Leave it to me to come up with additional chores for you to do.


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

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