May 21, 2008
As we rapidly approach Memorial Day weekend, I have 2 questions. How did the month of May go by so fast? And is this weekend really the weekend to plant all of the frost sensitive plants? As far as the month of May going by so fast, I guess that is what happens, as you get older. Is this the weekend to plant frost sensitive plants? Well, Memorial Day is about a week early if you consider that Memorial Day was always the 30 Th of May. Could we still get a frost? It isn’t likely, but it isn’t unheard of to get a frost this time of year. The old wisdom was that you planted after the full moon in May. The full moon was the 19 Th this year. If you asked me to make an educated guess, I would say that it is all right to plant tender annuals and vegetable plants. However, Mother Nature isn’t talking to me so …….
Once new annual and vegetable plants are planted in the gardens, you will find a few insects that wish to take advantage of the new meal you are providing them. Cutworms are in the soil and are waiting to chew through the stems of your plants. You can apply Sevin to the soil after planting to control the cutworms. Diatomaceous earth is an organic control for cutworms. It is incorporated into the soil at planting time. You can also make barriers that go around the stems of the plants to protect the stems.
Flea beetles will also quickly find your plants. This insect feeds on the leaves, making tiny holes in the leaves. Once the flea beetle has fed on your plants for a while, it will look as though something has shot a tiny shotgun blast at the leaves. Most organic and chemical insecticides will control flea beetles. The good news is that once the leaves begin to grow, the leaves get too tough for the flea beetle to eat. However, don’t wait for the plants to outgrow the attack. The flea beetle will destroy the leaves in a short period of time.
We saw something at the garden center on Sunday that I have not seen in years. We had Gypsy Moth caterpillars eating the leaves of a crabapple tree. Any of you who remember the early 1980’s will remember that the Gypsy Moth caterpillar devastated many of the trees in this area. This may be an isolated incident, but it bears watching to see if the Gypsy Moth caterpillar is making a comeback.
If you purchased a hanging flowering basket at Mother’s Day, you should be fertilizing the plant on a regular schedule. If you bought any of the hanging petunias, they will do best if fertilized with a plant food specifically formulated for the new varieties of petunias. The other varieties of hanging baskets will need a fertilizer high in phosphorous. The phosphorous is needed to help to produce new flower buds.
Lawns will benefit from an application of fertilizer during the later part of May. The lawns will be going into the summer months where growth can be either erratic or if the lawns get some water, growth can be strong. Either way, the lawns will need food during this stressful growing period. Late May is also a good time to apply weed control to your lawn. Lawn weed controls need to be applied when you will have at least 24 hours without rain. Rainfall or irrigation during that 24 hour period will make the weed killer much less effective. I know that it is hard to figure out the weather this month, but just keep that thought in mind.
Well, that’s all for this week. I’ll talk to you again next week.