July 8, 2009
We finally managed to put together a decent weekend. The sound of lawn mowers and the sounds of groaning gardeners with aching backs caused by a weekend of weeding the gardens fills the air. The joys of summer gardening after a month of rain.
It was good to see that so many of you followed my advice concerning the need to fertilize your gardens. Your plants will be growing their best from now on out.
The question came up several times this weekend about planting vegetable plants and seeds at this time of the season. You still have time to put in tomato plants. You will want to choose early maturing varieties. This will make up for the month lost to the rains of June. Peppers, summer squash, zucchini, cucumber and all of the herbs can still be planted now. The rain caused many of the vegetable seeds that were directly seeded into the garden to rot. You still have time to plant, from seed, green and yellow beans, broccoli, cabbage, New Zealand Spinach, and many of the other leafy vegetables. In fact, August is the month to put in fall crops of many of the cool season vegetables. If you didn’t get your vegetable garden in or if you lost things due to the weather, there is still time to get things planted.
Many of you have told me that your window boxes and other containers of annual flowers took a real hit during the month of June. You can still replace those dead plants with new plants. With the help of some fertilizer, it will only be about 2 weeks before your planters look as good as new.
Insect still seem to be in charge of all of the gardens. While technically not an insect, slugs and snails are devastating plants. An application or two of slug bait will work wonders at knocking back their numbers. While the population of aphids appears to be on the decline due to the ladybugs being active, many other insects will become more active. Sunny weather will mean the arrival of all types of caterpillars. Early on, so many of the caterpillars will be very small. In fact, some species never do get really large enough to be noticeable without very careful inspection of your plants. Caterpillars can be effectively controlled by using a biological spray or dust containing Bt. Bt is a host specific bacteria. It only kills caterpillars. You can use it on flowering plants and vegetable plants. If you find caterpillars early in the infestation, Bt is a very effective weapon.
If you haven’t done so, you should be walking around your gardens looking for signs of insects and promptly treating for those insects.
As I have said for weeks, fungus diseases are attacking all types of plants. Many of you are spraying fungicides on the plants to control the diseases. One thing that any numbers of people have told me is that they are cutting off branches of plants to control the diseases. Cutting off the branches will slow the spread of the disease, but it is not going to stop it. An application of a fungicide, even on diseased branches, is more effective than removal of the branch. On trees and shrubs, infected leaves will eventually fall off and may be replaced this year with new leaves. Even if the leaves are not replaced until next year, the plants will survive this season. Pruning off infected branches of trees and shrubs will damage the overall shape of the plant without gaining any significant disease control.
If fungus diseases are attacking your trees and shrubs, those infected leaves will fall to the ground. It is important to rake up and dispose of those leaves. If they are left on the ground, they will be a source of continued infection this year and also next year.
Recently, Cornell University released an advisory that late blight is showing up now on tomato plants. This is a serious and sometimes fatal disease of tomatoes, potatoes and even petunias. This diseases usually does not show up until much later in the season. It makes sense to treat your tomato plants with a fungicide. Unfortunately, many of the organic fungicides do not work on active late blight infections. If you have tomato plants, you would be well advised to spray them now with a fungicide.
Well, that’s all for this week. I’ll talk to you again next week.