July 9, 2008
July may be vacation month for many gardeners, but the gardens still need attention. Let me give you a list of things to keep you busy.
We have been getting the rain we need to make everything grow in the garden. The plants are growing very well. The weeds aren’t at a loss for growing either! Weeding is one of the gardening chores that many gardeners hate. However, you have to keep those weeds under control. Weeds do take some fertilizer away from plants and they even can take enough moisture out of the soil to negatively impact your plants. The real danger is that weeds can harbor insects that can damage your plants. For many gardeners, there is the feeling that you have to go out there and weed the whole garden in one giant blitz. If you want to make life easier, do the weeding in segments. You can always do a third of the garden and then do another third in a week or even the next day. Chipping away at a gardening chore you don’t like makes it a little more bearable.
Many of you have learned to use a product called Preen to prevent weeds that grow from seeds. Preen is usually applied in early spring before the seeds of the weeds have a chance to grow. The Preen lasts about 14 weeks in the soil. If you applied Preen in April, you are coming up on the time to put down a second application.
The Japanese Beetles must have been reading this column this past week. As you may remember, I had said that it was about the time that the beetle would make its appearance in the garden. Sure enough, we had reports of people with this beetle attacking plants. You should take some time to look around the gardens and see if the beetles have made an appearance in your yard. If they have arrived, it is time to begin a program to keep the beetles in check. Get your beetle traps up and apply an insecticide to any plants that are under attack.
The rainy weather has created an explosion in the population of slugs in the garden. Slugs feed at night. In many cases, you will see damage to your plants, but you will never see any insects on your plants. If you go outside after dark, take your flashlight and check on your plants. If you see slugs on your plants, you will need to apply slug bait at the base of your plants. Slugs are not an insect. They are related to clams. You need to apply slug bait because insect sprays won’t kill slugs. When you apply slug bait, make sure you read the label carefully. Some slug baits are very poisonous to pets. If you have pets that roam around your gardens, use slug bait called Sluggo. This slug bait is safe to use around pets.
Many people have come into the store with leaf samples. One thing that we have seen time and time again is mealy bugs and scale on holly plants. The thing that most gardeners see first is a black mold growing on the leaves. The black mold is called sooty mold. The mold grows because of the insects feeding on the leaves. As the insects’ feeds, it cannot digest all of the sugar in the plants juices. The insect excretes out sugar that falls onto the leaves. The mold grows on the sugar and causes the black mold to show up on the leaves. If you wish to use an organic control, you should use horticultural oil. The oil must be sprayed on the top and most importantly, the underside of the leaves. The oil coats the insect and causes the insect to die. In the case of hollies, it may be very hard to get the oil spray on the bottom of the leaves. You can apply a systemic insecticide to the plant. The systemic insecticide is absorbed through the leaves or the roots of the plant. This insecticide stays on the inside of the leaves. The insecticide kills insects feeding on the leaves. If you have holly plants in your yard, it would be worthwhile to go out and check the leaves to make sure no one is feasting on the leaves.
Well, that’s all for this week. I’ll talk to you again next week.