36May 3, 2018

Another year of going from winter to summer. Still, it will feel nice to have sunshine.

If you have looked at the maple trees and many of the flowering trees, you will notice that the leaves are beginning to unfold. Once this happens, the winter moth caterpillars will hatch and begin to feed on those newly emerging leaves. As soon as that happens, you should be spraying the leaves of those trees with a product called Bt.

Bt is a bacterium that is very deadly to caterpillars but doesn’t bother the bees. Many of the other organic sprays can be quite deadly to bees. Bt is mixed with water and sprayed onto the leaves as soon as possible to control the caterpillars.

You should spray the leaves in the early morning or in the evening. These two times are times of active caterpillar feeding. The winter moth caterpillars feed for about six weeks. Once they are done feeding, they will drop to the ground and burrow into the soil, often at the base of the trees.

They will re-emerge in late November as moths that will mate, and the females will lay egg cases on the trunk of the tree. Come the spring, as the leaves unfurl, the caterpillars will hatch from the egg cases and start the whole process over again.

The Bt should be sprayed onto the leaves about three times while the caterpillars are feeding.

If you have a vegetable garden, make sure to get those cold-tolerant vegetable plants set out in your garden. Lettuce, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, onions, beets and carrots all benefit from being planted early in the season.

There are many vegetable plants that should not be planted until the end of May. These include tomatoes, peppers, squash, cucumbers, eggplant and basil, to name a few.

Many would plant these warm-weather vegetables around the 10th of May. In 2015 and 2016, this worked out successfully. In 2017, around the middle of May, we had a rainy day with a high temperature of 35 degrees. This cold and rainy day wound up killing many of the warm-weather vegetables. Please don’t try to rush the season by planting the warm-weather vegetables until we get to the end of May.

With the warming weather, azaleas and rhododendrons should be in flower soon. Once the flowering time is done, you can prune these plants back if need be, and they should be fertilized one time after the flowering is done. The application of fertilizer will help the shrubs to set flower buds for 2019.

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

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