July 2009 Garden Tips!
It’s a season record…three days without rain!
Does that mean we need to start paying attention to watering again, yes it does. It is remarkable how fast the many inches of rain will become unavailable to many garden plants and planters. As always, it is important to monitor garden beds, lawns and especially containers for sufficient water. Woody plants will benefit from deep watering less often once they are established; whereas herbaceous plants tend to be shallow rooted and will need less water more often. Maintaining even moisture is a critical element in fruit production for your vegetable beds as well. So, once again it’s time to get the hoses out.
Several people have been asking about pests, especially aphids on garden plants. They are one of the most persistent garden pests we know of. Roses seem to start growing in spring with aphids all over and that may be true, because aphids can winter over in the soil then emerge very early in the spring. Aphids are sometimes actually farm raised by ants; protecting them and eating the ‘honeydew’ the aphids release. The ant colony may protect, and relocate the young aphids for their own selfish reasons; actually carrying the eggs of aphids into their nests for safe keeping over the winter, then moving the young out in the spring, starting the process over. The question is now how to beat them?
Early detection is important, usually you can find aphids, in all stages when there are trails of ants. They are most active when temperatures are between 65-80 degrees, like now. They reproduce fast and effectively and are hard to manage. Using a forceful spray from your garden hose will temporarily eliminate many, just be sure to spray away from the garden and other plant material. Also, look for evidence of natural predators like Ladybeetles, lacewings and syrphid fly. They are all good bugs and should be encouraged.You can buy commercially produced lady beetles to release in the garden, however they will disappear once the aphid infestation is under control. If the aphids return you will need to buy more Ladybeetles and repeat the application.
As a last resort go to your garden center and request a control for aphids. They may suggest a spray, which would give more immediate results to the soft bodied varieties. There are also systemic applications that will need to be watered into the soil. The systemics will control all stages of the aphid development and work when the pests suck the moisture from the leaves. When possible, use natural products and as always read the labels of all products. Be sure both what you are spraying and what you are spraying it on. Trees, garden beds and vegetables are all going to use different chemicals for different pests. Enjoy your garden; plan ahead for each changing season!