Start the gardening season with mild March, a few hot days then add rainy days in April, simmer for a few days, then add more 80 almost 90 degree days in May followed by a few cold frosty/freezing evenings, mix with sustainable winds of 30 mph plus followed by more 90 degree days and what do you get? A rollercoaster of strange things happening to plants. This week and last I am starting to see diseased samples of leaves arrive at my store daily with a few insect damaged leaves as well. Now that it is getting warmer, get ready for the insects.
As I write this article, the bronze birch borer and emerald ash borers will be emerging and now is the best time to kill these "evil insects", as my rep Stephanie describes them, is with systemic insect spray. Root vine weevil will be emerging from the soil near rhododendrons as well, If your leaves are being eaten in a moon shape manner, you may have root vine weevil. A drench of Fertilome Tree and Shrub Systemic in as early as April or September, later this season, will prevent attacks for one full year from the date you mix and dump this drench on the root ball of these trees and rhododendrons. I love this product because it is so simple to use.
Many of my clients have been asking when the nasty bagworm which attacks arborvitae, blue spruce and almost anything else will be starting to hatch their eggs. These creatures spin a larva which resembles a cone you would find on a tree. They eat and eat and eat needles, green branches, leaves and even bark, thus killing parts of the tree. When the whitish cream colored tree lilacs bloom is THE BEST TIME to spray with Fertilome brand Spinosad for effective control. If you have sevin, eight or a systemic spray, this may be used as well. Spray then and again two more times 10-14 days apart to make sure you get all these pests. They are terrible and many clients of mine have had these creatures destroy their plants. If you have arborvitae or blue spruce, I would spray these plants even if you do not see the cone like cocoons these insects use for cover. They also seem to like Japanese Maples as many of my clients have been telling me they are becoming infested with them on their plants as well.
The two spotted spider mite will be hatching and laying eggs the same time as well. An application of horticultural oil sprayed then on alberta spruce or any plant you have had mites on will work wonders. This product suffocates the insect and a spray needs to be timed when they are most vulnerable to being killed and prevented in the future.
Fletcher scale, oyster scale, calico scale and striped pine scale will soon be hatching and entering their crawler stage. They are most vulnerable to a spray of horticultural oil or a systemic spray will work well. The Oyster shell scale on pines and spruce will later emit some waste which attracts bees like crazy to the plant later on in the summer. If you remember having swarms of bees surrounding your plant(s) last year, now's the time to spray! Spray for these pests when the purple "smoke trees" are in bloom.
Mosquitos are predicted to be abundant this year. All this standing water will make egg hatch this year one of the worst ever seen. Empty any container that holds water and refresh bird baths quite often. Mosquito dunks can be tossed in still ponds or baths and will keep mosquitoes from hatching. It is organic and wildlife safe. It lasts up to a couple months. The patio shield from Thermacell is a great mosquito protection product. A heat activated mat releases repellent into the air creating a protection zone 15' by 15'. The product comes in a decorative jar that sits on the table or a tiki torch version. Satisfaction is guaranteed with 100% money back guarantee and its scent free.
Rhizosphaera Needle Cast on spruces will be seen in epidemic proportions this year. Symptoms appear as brownish purple needles in early spring . Eventually the older needles die while the new growth shows no symptoms. Affected needles start at the bottom of the tree and move upward. A spray of Fertilome's Broad Spectrum Fungicide when new needles are 50% grown (approximately 1") followed by 2 more application 3-4 weeks apart will stop this devastating disease from continuing.
Adding spreader sticker to any spray you use will increase its effectiveness dramatically. This "glue" helps insecticides, fungicides and weed killers stick to the leaves of the plants. I personally use this product every time I spray!!
Tons of animals too are attacking gardens and landscapes.
Don't become a victim of allowing them to view your landscape or garden as an "all you can eat" buffet!
Deer-As their habitat shrinks, they are on the move and getting pretty bold. It used to be they would scatter when they saw you, now they just chuckle to each other and don't even move! The latest product I have found is all natural "Feather Meal". This product is a byproduct from processing poultry. It is made from feathers which have been partially ground under heat and pressure. This product is a natural 12% slow release fertilizer and is great for the garden. The benefit we have found is this is an EXCELLENT deer repellent! It seems turkeys and deers are natural adversaries. A prominent local grower recently told me he has had tremendous success keeping deer away from anything this product is sprinkled around. From protecting strawberries, to hostas, even tulips. It just plain works.
An old stand-by I have recommended for years is Milorganite. Milorganite contains 4% iron and has been used on lawns for years. It is economical in that a 32# bag cost around $17.00. If you want to really green up your lawn, use milorganite. If you want to protect your plants from deer, use milorganite. A handful thrown around your area you wish to protect will make deer stay away. A fresh application should be made every 7-10 days.
The only other products I would recommend are Deer Scram and Deer Screen. Both contain "meat meal" which keeps deer away. I like the deer screen as they look like tea bags. You hang them on your plants and each time it rains, the product is reactivated. It lasts for many months.
Rabbit-They may be cute and cuddly, but they can really devour a garden quickly. They love vegetable plants especially freshly planted ones it seems. They are ninja like in their precision movements and eat plants down to a stem. A chicken wire fence erected around your garden will keep them out of your garden and many forms, fancy and just basic, are available. A new no dig fencing is easy to install and offers a quick fix to this problem.
Bonide brand "Go away Deer and Rabbit Repellent" comes in both a spray and granules which can last up to two months. This natural product is safe for people and pets. It is made up of a blend of garlic oil, egg solids, pepper and cloves. The scent keeps these animals away.
Groundhogs-The only groundhog I ever liked was in the movie, Caddyshack. These digging animals can really destroy a golf course and they can devour your veggies as well. Bonide brand "Repels All Animal Repellent" works wonders. This product repels everything from armadillo, birds, beavers, crows, skunks, groundhogs, raccoons, shrews and more. We have been selling this product for a long time. Bonide has a 100% satisfaction guarantee on all their products. We have yet to have one of these returned to us. It works... Also new last year for gophers and ground hogs is Monterey's brand "Go Die" which you place in or near their tunnel which they eat and perish after ingestion.
Chipmunks and Squirrels-These cute little critters can really devastate trees and tear up a bird feeder like a rock star had an all night party. Bonide brand "Rat Magic" repels these rodents with ease. Just sprinkle this granule around the area you need protected and these animals stay away. It is great for around trash cans, gardens, sheds and patios. Bonide also has created a ready to spray liquid which I am getting great reports on. Chipmunk, squirrel and rodent repellent is great around bird feeders.
Snakes-Although a sign of a healthy ecosystem in your garden, snakes really scare my wife and lots of women. Bonide brand "Snake Stopper" works well for keeping these slithery fellows out of areas you don't want. Snakes have an incredible scent of smell and this all natural product keeps them away.
I hope these tips will help you to keep unwanted visitors from destroying all your hard work. Nothing is more rewarding than picking a fresh tomato from the garden, or making salsa with homegrown peppers. With all the salmonella and listeria scares I keep hearing on the news, it's just a whole lot safer growing your own food. Keep gardening and remember we're here to help you succeed.