31June 7, 2018

We are into the first week in June. It’s too bad that the temperatures on Monday felt like the first week of April!

If you have boxwood plants in your yard, you should take a look at the leaves of the plant. You may notice that some of the leaves have curled a bit. This is called cupping. You may also notice that there is a white mass tangled in between the leaves. If you are familiar with mealy bugs, you might think that is a mass that the mealy bugs secrete to protect themselves from predators. The insect isn’t an aphid and it isn’t a mealy bug but rather it is an insect called the boxwood psyllid. The psyllid feeds on the sap of the boxwood. They cannot digest all of the sugar in the sap and will excrete the sugar. Eventually the sugar will turn black and for a black film on the leaves.

If you find this insect on your boxwood plants, you should treat your plants with a systemic insecticide. A systemic insecticide is sprayed on the leaves and absorbed into the leaves. There are also systemic insecticides that are mixed with water and then the mixture is poured at the base of the plant. The insecticide is absorbed by the roots and then becomes part of the sap of the plant. Either method will work and will help to control this insect. Take some time this week to check your boxwood plants and see if they have this insect. If you find them on your boxwood plants, treat the plants to minimize the damage to the leaves of your plants.

Many years ago, scientist discovered something unusual concerning tomato plants that were planted in the ground. Many farmers would place black plastic on the ground and then slice the plastic and place the tomato plants into the hole in the plastic. The plastic would heat up the ground and help to prevent water from evaporating from the soil. What scientists found was that by using red plastic the tomato plants would grow faster and set tomatoes faster. In many cases, the tomatoes would ripen faster. You can buy rolls of red plastic or you can buy squares of red plastic that you place around the stem of your tomato plants. I have customers who have used the red plastic and they have had a better crop of tomatoes. We sell the squares of the red plastic at our store.

Now that the plants are in the garden or in your window boxes or other containers, it is time to set up a regular schedule of fertilizing your plants. Without the proper amount of fertilizer in the soil, your plants cannot grow properly. This means that your plants will have fewer, if any flowers. In the case of vegetables, fewer flowers will mean fewer vegetables. Make sure that your plants get fertilized on a regular schedule.

Have you ever grown sweet potatoes?  Many people believe that it a crop only grown in the southern states. There are varieties that will grow in the northern states. We started carrying sweet potato plants several years ago for sale to gardeners who want to try something different in their gardens. Sweet potatoes need warm soil to grow making early June a good time to put the plants in the ground. We sell a bush variety that allows you to also grow them in a large flowerpot. If you like to eat sweet potatoes, you may want to give this plant a try in your garden.

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

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