36June 22, 2011

Over the last few weeks, I had my suspicions that the damp weather would be the start of the appearance of fungus diseases on many plants that are in the gardens. After having so many people bringing leaf samples into the store, (in plastic bags please so that our plants don’t get the disease!) that had fungus diseases, it is important to discuss how to minimize the spread of fungus diseases.

The most important step in preventing the spread of fungus diseases is to treat the plants immediately with an appropriate fungicide. If you treat the plants at the first sign of a disease, it is easier to control the disease. If you wait until the disease is well established, it can be almost impossible to control the disease.
Fungus diseases are almost always caused by cool and damp conditions. You can inadvertently cause some fungus diseases by improper watering. If you water your plants late in the day, the plants go into the evening with wet leaves. As the temperatures cool overnight, fungus diseases have the perfect breeding ground. All of your plant watering should take place after sunrise. This allows the plants to take up the water they need while allowing the leaves to dry out before evening. If you have an irrigation system that comes on at 1 to 3 AM, you should re-set the timer to a later time. By having the sprinklers come on in these very early morning hours, the plants, including your lawn are wet during hours that are prime time for disease formation. Again, we have seen many lawn disease problems this past week and in many cases the cause can be traced back to sprinklers coming on at 1 to 3 AM.
Adjusting your watering schedule will go a long way in controlling the creation and spread of fungus diseases.

If you have hollies in your yard, take a close look at the bottom of the leaves. In the past 10 days, we have seen many cases of mealy bugs and / or scale on the leaves of these plants. You should treat your plants with an appropriate insecticide as soon as possible.

Slugs also appear to have been dining on many plants. Since slugs only feed at night, you may not necessarily see them feeding. There are good organic slug controls that you can use to control these pesky critters.

Caterpillars of all sizes and types are feeding on the leaves of your plants. You will need to look closely at your plants to see them. Many are the same green color as the leaves of your plants. BT is a very effective organic control to get caterpillars under control.

Now is the time to get those tomato cages placed over your tomato plants. It is so much easier to place the cages while the plants are small. Make placing of your tomato cages one of your top garden projects for this week.

Now that you have many of your new plants in the garden or placed into containers, it is time to get into the habit of fertilizing your plants. So many of the plants that you buy are hybrid plants. These hybrid plants need a steady supply of fertilizer if you want them to perform well in your gardens. By getting in the habit of feeding your plants, you will have a much better garden all season long.

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

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