April showers May bring May flowers, but too much rain, cool nights and more rain is not good for anybody. A slow start to the season with a cool rainy beginning to April combined with humid conditions will breed problems of insects and disease in the landscape. Although every year is a little different, it seems many things remain the same. April has had 3 days deemed as sunny with the balance partly to mostly cloudy. The average daily humidity was 71% and the average temperature was only 50 degrees.
On the plus side, we didn't have to water much and buds are swelling and blooms are still looking good on yellow forsythia and magnolias. Flowering crab apples and lilacs are starting to show signs of buds swelling and the flurry of flowers should start any day now..
May weather predictions are swings of high temperatures and then back down to lows. A wetter than normal season could be upon us.
What does this mean to the average garden? Here are 7 things to watch out for in the next few weeks...
1) Frost! Cold days mean even cooler nights. Watch the night time temperatures and cover your plants to prevent losing flowers, annuals and veggies in the garden. Frost occurs at 32 degrees when a layer of ice crystals form when water vapor condenses and freezes before becoming dew. If I hear temperatures are going to be 38 degrees or cooler, we haul out the burlap and start covering any plants in bud showing color or in bloom including ALL annuals, in the ground, in pots or hanging above. You have to remember most thermometers are read several feet off the ground and register temperatures at that level. Ground level temperatures can be much cooler. A simple sheet, towel, blanket or anything cloth placed on top of your desirable plants will aid as a pound of cure if your plants should freeze and you have to replant them and start all over. As for flowering shrubs or trees, a frost will not kill your plants but it will damage your flowers. If they get frosted, they will turn black and fall off.
2) Spray for disease. Wet weather, cool nights mean disease will be bad on trees and shrubs. Trees like flower crabs should be sprayed with fertilome's broad spectrum fungicide now to avoid scab which makes leaves spotted and yellow. Roses should be sprayed or Fertilome’s 2 N 1 systemic drench should be used now to fend off black spot which loves to spread during wet, cool days. Dogwoods will most certainly get anthracnose, a disease which affects the leaves. A spray with mancozeb from bonide when leaves begin to emerge will help deter this problem. And let's not forget fruit trees. A religious spray routine with a complete fruit tree spray should be applied about every 10-14 days for optimum yield. Diseases and insects love all sorts of fruit trees. Bonide' fruit tree spray contains an insecticide as well as fungicide for bugs and diseases all in one spray. We even use this at the nursery on many different trees and shrubs for pests and diseases.
3) Watch for ticks-Reports of ticks on animals and humans alike seem to be higher than ever before. Several of my clients have told me that they have had too many experiences with these pests. Typically ticks stay on tall grasses or weeds in woods. Long sleeved shirts should be worn and repellents can be used which carry 25% of deet or more can be used as a deterrent. Several sprays and granular insecticides are available for ticks. Consult label to make sure ticks are listed. An easy new product is the Thermacell Tick Control Tubes. They are a no-spray, no-mess, easy way to kill backyard ticks and prevent the spread of Lyme and other diseases such as babesiosis or anaplasmosis. Just place tubes around yard where mice are found such as rock walls, wood piles, brush, sheds, patio, flower beds or wood line.
4) Watch for flooding. Excessive rain can cause standing water around plants. This can cause root rot leading to the downfall of your plants. Try to drain water away from plants to prevent this from happening.
5) Replenish nutrients. Rain and flooding can wash much needed food for plants away. An application of espoma garden tone, plant tone or holly tone, will help restore those lost nutrients.
6) Empty standing water. Tubs, tires, pots, wheelbarrows and even bird baths can be breeding areas for mosquitos. If it holds water, dump it out. With the scare of the Zika virus entering Ohio as well as the West Nile virus, this is something we all should be doing. Change water in bird baths every 7-10 days or use mosquito dunks to prevent mosquitoes from breeding. This all natural product works very well in areas with standing water such as reflection ponds or birdbaths. Mosquitos will not breed in areas with moving water. On a side note, the same company makes a product called mosquito bits. This is great if you have those annoying fungus gnats in any of your houseplants. Just water when needed with a solution of this product and watch them disappear.
7)Be vigilant against slugs- slugs love hostas, lettuce and more. They come out at night and eat holes in plants. Diatomaceous earth spread around as a barrier will keep them away. Snail and slug killers are also available.
Mark my words, lots of disease problems will happen this year and insects will be out as well. Prevention is the key and the time is now. Take a stroll through your landscape and do a little inspection, hopefully you won't find anything unusual but if you do, take a sample or a picture to the experts at your favorite garden center. They can help you.
In closing, I wish to state what we are seeing and experiencing as the world as we know it changes. Company after company are really having problems manufacturing products with literally no idea of when they will be able to replenish items. Fuel surcharges on top of escalated shipping charges and added labor charges are pushing pricing higher than can be imagined. Email after email states companies can not supply items or they are oversold. Simple tags for our plants are now out of stock. Potting mixes on orders we have placed months ago continue to have anticipated surcharges with percentages rising every 2-3 weeks. Pots, good luck finding them if you don't have them, maybe summer of 2023. Really? I don't know when this rollercoaster of high pricing will stop. I understand it, and hope you will too. Truth be told, we are in pretty good shape with things for this year. The nursery is still getting shipments in and I think we will be full in the next couple of weeks. Mother nature and lack of labor and trucking has made things slow to arrive this year so we ask you to be patient a little longer. As I have stated before, if you see it, buy it. We are trying to keep prices down as long as we can. If we get a new shipment in, they may just be higher the next time you come in. We are all in this together, may you all have a great Easter Sunday and thank you for your patronage!
J.R. Pandy, "The No B.S.Gardener"
Pandy's Premier Garden Center