June 17, 2009
The cloudy and damp weather seems to be continuing indefinitely. A week of sunshine would surely boost the spirits of everyone.
The prolonged period of damp weather means that gardeners are going to have to check their lawns and gardens carefully for signs of damage that can be contributed directly to the weather.
Rainy weather for a long period of time can mean an increase in fungus diseases. In the last week, we have had an increasing number of customers come into the garden center with fungus problems on their lawn. The most common problem is a disease called red thread. The thing that most people notice first is a pink to red haze over the surface of the lawn. This is most noticeable early in the morning. This haze is the fungal strand that is spreading across the lawn. In some cases, this disease will go away on its own once the grass dries out and we get a week of dry and sunny days. If it continues to be serious, or if it is already serious, you can spray the lawn with a fungicide.
Fungus diseases will also be growing on many of your plants. In the vegetable garden, check your squash, cucumbers and pumpkins for a white haze that may be forming on the leaves. This is a disease called powdery mildew. It should be sprayed with an appropriate fungicide. This is important to get under control now because many of the plants are still small and can be killed by this disease. Perennials can also be susceptible to powdery mildew. You should check your tall phlox, bee balm and catmint for signs of this disease. Hollyhocks will be prone to a disease called rust. A general category of fungus disease called leaf spot can be infecting all kinds of plants. As the name implies, leaf spot is the spotting of the leaves of the plant. If you are not sure if any of these problems exist on your plants, put a sample of leaves into a plastic bag and bring the leaves into the garden center. Please do not just bring the leaves into the store without having them in a bag. We like to help, but we don’t want to introduce diseases onto our plants. All of the diseases can be controlled by the application of an appropriate fungicide.
There can also be problems with bacterial diseases on tomato plants when we get a prolonged period of rainy weather. We can identify this problem too if you bring samples into the garden center. Again, please bag any sample leaves if you bring the leaves into the store.
Prolonged rainy weather can also lead to problems with blossom end rot on your tomato plants. When the soil stays wet for long periods of time and then dries out, there can be a calcium deficiency created in the tomato plants. This will cause a black, leathery patch to form on the bottom of the tomatoes. Once this has formed, there is no cure. Prevention is the best way to stop this from happening. An application of lime or an application of calcium in a spray form will help to prevent the blossom end rot from forming. This should be done now. Tomato plants grown in containers are particularly susceptible to the formation of blossom end rot.
Rainy weather has created a bumper crop of slugs in the garden. Slugs feed only at night. The damage they cause is very smooth series of cuts on the leaves of your plants. If you notice smooth cuts on the leaves of your plants, yet you don’t see any insects feeding on the plant, the odds are that it is slugs feeding on your plants. You can check for slugs by going out to the garden an hour or so after darkness has set in. Shine a flashlight beam on your plants and if you see something that looks like a fat worm on the leaves, than you have slugs feeding in your garden. You can apply a slug bait containing iron to control the slugs. It is placed around the base of the plants. The slugs are attracted to the bait and once they eat it, they die quickly. These baits are safe to use around pets and wildlife.
Well, that’s all for this week. I’ll talk to you again next week.