56 March 15, 2008

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. This old saying holds very true when it comes to gardening. If you can prevent problems from starting in your gardens, gardening becomes a lot easier. You can fertilize to keep plants healthy. You can walk around your gardens and look for problems before they become major problems. You can apply crabgrass preventer to your lawn to prevent the crabgrass seeds from becoming crabgrass plants. If you take some time now, you can decrease the number of insects and diseases that can plaque your gardens when the weather warms up. (Yes, the weather will eventually warm up!)


Insects don’t like winter any more than we do. They look for places to spend the winter where they are protected from wind, cold weather and predators. In the cases where insects don’t over winter, the insect lays eggs in the fall that will hatch out in the spring. If you eliminate those insects that over winter and the eggs of other insects, you will have less of a problem with insects in the spring. Now is the time to apply horticultural oil to the twigs and branches of your deciduous plants.


Horticultural oil is mixed with water and sprayed on the twigs and branches. The oil flows down into all of the hiding places where insects and their eggs spend the winter. The oil coats the insects and the eggs and causes them to die. Horticultural oil should be sprayed when the temperatures are above 40 degrees and when you do not expect rain for 24 hours. The spray should be applied before new growth begins to emerge on your plants. Plants that will benefit from this spray are rose bushes, flowering ornamental trees, fruit trees, grape vines and many of the other deciduous shrubs that are soon to be springing to life.


Diseases on plants always seem to be a problem in the garden. If you grow rose bushes you know how diseases can ruin your plants. Many of the plant diseases we have in are gardens over winter in the form of spores. You want to think of the spores as the “eggs’ of the diseases. If you can kill the spores before they turn into an active disease, you will have a better chance at keeping diseases away from your plants. If you apply lime sulfur spray to the disease prone plants before the plants begin to put out new growth, you can greatly eliminate diseases that occur in your gardens. Lime sulfur spray is mixed with water and sprayed on deciduous plants before the new growth appears on the plants. It should be applied at temperatures above 40 degrees and should be applied when there will be 24 hours without rain. In many cases, you can apply the horticultural oil and the lime sulfur spray together and do just one dormant treatment. Just be sure to read all of the label directions before you apply the two products together.


Applying dormant treatments now will save you a lot of time and expense when the growing season eventually arrives. Remember, an ounce of prevention…..


I’ll talk to you again next week.

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