PREPARING FOR THE FOURTH OF JULY

Hard to believe but we are already at the mid-year point of 2012 when we prepare for the big July 4th holiday.  As we celebrate the birth of our great country there are lots of things to do in the garden.  First and foremost besides enjoying your garden and harvesting vegetables, berries and fruits is watering!  Now that we have hit triple digit temperatures with hot dry winds your plants are counting on you to assist them with cool refreshing water to prevent their dehydration.  Mulching with bark or hulls is the other practice that will really reduce water use and help your plants thrive.

 With the hot weather, our bugs and pests tend to explode and give us problems.  Not only are our bug populations greatest at this time of year but our trees, plants and vegetables are more vulnerable and less able to defend themselves when they are under stress from the intense heat and drought.

 We have been battling many kinds of worms from bagworms to earworms, cutworms, webworms, and hornworms.  You can control these worms by hand picking the worms, spraying with Dipel or Thuricide, which are natural BT products or spray with Carbaryl, permethrin, deltamethrin, or malathion.

 We are seeing a lot of grasshopper problems and if they are out of control in your yard you can use malathion, orthene, permethrin, deltamethrin or imidacloprid.  Red spider mites love the summer heat and can overtake tomatoes, cucumbers or roses in a matter of days.  You can first try and wash these tiny mites off with strong jets of water.  Remember to rinse the bottom of the leaves as well as the tops of the foliage.  You can apply an ultra fine refined horticultural oil spray, soap, or Neem extract based product to smother the spiders and achieve some control.

 Squash bugs, flea beetles, pillbugs, snails, slugs or other critters that crawl across the garden soil can be controlled with diatomaceous earth which is the microscopic skeletal remains of diatoms which were a single cell algae-like plant.  There razor sharp edges physically cut the protective cover of crawling insects and kills them but will not harm humans or earthworms.  If that doesn’t work you can spray many chemicals for control.

 Aphids and other sucking insects can be controlled with products from a neem tree extract, ultrafine oil spray, horticutural soaps, pyrethrin, permethrin, spinosad, bifentrin or malathion.  If you have a lot of ants you can kill them with an orthene or an acephate based product, or by using any of a number of ant traps or ant baits.

 Just as there are many thousands of species of plants there are many thousands of species of insects, some good guys and some bad guys.  Take a sample of your problem in a ziplock bag to your local nursery or garden center and they can help you identify the problem and recommend a solution that fits your comfort zone across the organic to chemical spectrum.  Take time to enjoy your garden and Happy Birthday America.

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