35July 06, 2017

Once the plants have all been planted, the questions begin to get asked at the garden center. Let me go over a few of the issues that have cropped up this past week.

Many people have come into the store with samples of weeds that are growing in their lawn. People usually will say that they have never had a particular weed growing in their lawn. Most of the problems go back to last summer. As you all remember, last summer we had water restrictions with no outdoor watering. There was very little rainfall and lawns began to brown out. When a lawn is nice and green and the blades of grass shade the soil, the naturally occurring weed seed in the soil does not sprout. When the lawns fade out, the weed seed that has been in the soil for years has a chance to sprout and grow in the lawn.

Some of the weed seed may have sprouted this spring before the grass had a chance to fill back in. Some of the weed seed may have been introduced in the loam that was spread to help to fill in the brown spots. Some of the weed seed may have been in your soil for years and when you loosened up the soil in the spring to re-seed the lawn, the weed seed was brought to the surface. No matter how the weed seed got its start, you probably should treat the weeds that have started.

One of the issues is that most lawn weed control products cannot be applied when the temperatures are above 85 degrees. At this point in time, you may have to wait until the temperatures break before you can apply an appropriate weed control that will kill the particular weeds that are growing in your lawn.

The lawn isn’t the only thing that has had problems this summer. Flowering plants and vegetable plants have had their share of problems too. There is a tiny caterpillar that attacks the blossoms of the petunia plants. Since the caterpillar attacks the flowers of the petunias, you have to be very careful about using a product that won’t harm the bees that visit your flowers. Even some of the organic sprays are very toxic to bees. There is a product called BT that will control the caterpillars, yet it won’t harm the bees.

The next big issue on flowers has been the slugs. Their numbers skyrocketed during the rainy spring and now they are feeding like crazy. A few weeks ago, I wrote about using slug bait to control the slugs. If slugs are an issue in your flower gardens, now is the time to apply the slug bait.

On both flower and vegetable plants, fungus diseases are beginning to show their ugly damage. I have seen a lot of leaf spot on plants and I have also seen a lot of early blight on tomato plants. This will be a summer for fungus diseases on your plants. To prevent the fungus from getting started on your plants, water your plant early in the morning.

This means that you want to water at around 6 AM. If you have a sprinkler system that comes on at 2 or 3 AM, re-adjust the time so that the sprinklers come on at 5 or 6 AM. If the sprinklers come on early or if you water in the evening, the leaves will go into the night with water on them. Wet leaves in the nighttime hours are a dinner bell for fungus diseases to attack your plants. Water your plants thoroughly in the morning and if you have to water late in the day, the water should only be applied to the soil under the plants.

There are a number of organic sprays that work well at preventing fungus diseases on your plants. This is going to be the year to begin a preventative spray program with one of the organic controls. Do not wait until you see damage to apply these products. This is something that you need to do now if you want it to be effective.

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

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