34May 17, 2018

We are now in the middle of May, and the weather is still bouncing up and down. Unfortunately, this appears to be what we can call the typical month of May. Many of you are beginning to put plants in the ground or in various types of containers. When you set your plants out, it is beneficial to put the plants in when it is a cloudy day.

Once you get the plants in, the roots will begin to spread out into the soil. If you put a plant in when it is a sunny and warm day, the plant will struggle to get the roots out because it is also trying to use its root system to take up water to hydrate itself. On the cloudy day, the plant has less demand for water and the root system will concentrate on growing.

The other thing you should be doing when you set your plants out is using a plant-starter fertilizer. This type of fertilizer is mixed with water, and that mixture is used after you put the plants into the ground or into your containers. The fertilizer is formulated to promote new root growth. You only need to apply this fertilizer once. By using this fertilizer, you will be helping your plants get a new root system established.

Late last week, we got in a shipment of ladybugs and praying mantid egg cases.

The ladybugs love to eat aphids and many of the other soft-bodied insects. You release them at the base of the plants that have an insect problem. You release them in the evening. In the morning, the ladybugs will climb the plant looking for food. Once they find the insects, they will eat all of the insects.

The praying mantid egg case is placed in the garden in a sheltered area. This keeps any predators from eating the egg case. Once the egg case hatches, hundreds of tiny mantids go scurrying, looking for food. They will eat any insect that is smaller than they are. We have some at the garden center that have become second and third generation. We have watched them in August eating a grasshopper. They are insect-eating machines.

Both the ladybugs and the mantid egg cases are always in short supply, so if you want them, now is the time to get them.

People often ask if the weather is too cold to plant perennials or shrubs. It is actually better to put these plants in the ground when the weather is cooler. This allows the plants to get their root system established before the heat of the summer arrives. If you are planting perennials or trees or shrubs, don’t forget to use a plant-starter fertilizer when you put the plants into the ground.

Many of you are patching up dead spots in your lawn, or you may even be planting a new lawn. Please keep in mind that in order for your lawn to succeed, you need 6 inches of good loam If you are patching your lawn, you need to dig up those dead spots, remove the dead grass, and then add compost or topsoil to improve that top 6 inches of soil.

If you are starting a new lawn, you should rent a rototiller and till in enough topsoil or compost to improve the top 6 inches of soil. If you just go with 2 inches of loam, you will be back doing this again next spring.

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

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