45 May 26, 2010

During the past week, I have had customers come into the store with leaf samples that show signs of the fungus disease called powdery mildew. In some cases, the disease is just in the beginning stages. In some cases, the disease is quite advanced. If you have a plant called ninebark planted in your yard, you may want to check the leaves for signs of powdery mildew. If you see a white powdery coating on the leaves, then you will need to apply a fungicide to cure this problem. I had never seen powdery mildew on ninebark before this year. After talking to people, it seems that it started last fall. The leaves then fell off the plant and the fallen leaves were the source for re-infection this spring.

Rose bushes are also beginning to show signs of being infected with powdery mildew. It would be wise to take a stroll through your gardens and check your plants for signs of powdery mildew. If you see any white powdery coatings on the leaves or stems of the plant, then it is time to apply a fungicide to the plants.

Memorial Day weekend is the traditional time to plant your tomato, pepper, cucumber and squash plants. You should take precautions when planting these plants because cutworms can attack many of these plants within the first few days after planting. Cutworms live in the soil. They will chew off the stem of the plant right at the soil level. Cutworms are generally only a problem during the first week or so after the plants are put into the ground. At planting time, you should apply Sevin, diatomaceous earth, or Neem directly into the soil around the plant. All of these products are effective at controlling cutworms.

Another critter that loves your new garden is the vine borer. The vine borer is actually the larval stage of an insect that hatches from eggs that are laid at the soil level of the plant’s stem shortly after the plants are placed into the ground. You will generally have a problem with this insect on squash plants. The eggs hatch out and the larvae burrow into the stem of the plant. If you apply a dust of Sevin, Rotenone or Dipel around the stem of the plant, the larvae will be killed as they attempt to burrow into the plant. It is advisable to repeat this application regularly during the first few weeks that the plants are in the ground.

Any time that you are putting plants into the ground or putting the plants into any type of container, you should always use a plant starter fertilizer as part of your first application of water applied to the plants. This fertilizer will help the plants to quickly establish a root system. It also helps the plants to overcome the shock of being transplanted. You only need one application of this type of fertilizer.

Speaking of fertilizer, you must keep up with a regular application of fertilizer to all of your annual flowers and vegetable plants. This is not to say that other plants do not need to be fertilized, but rather that vegetable plants and annual flowers need a steady supply of fertilizer all season long to produce the flowers and/or vegetables that you expect from your garden.

Well, that’s all for this week. I hope you will have a safe and happy Memorial Day weekend. I hope you all have a chance to get the gardens planted this weekend.

I’ll talk to you again next week.

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