Thursday, May 30, 2013

Careful with compaction in the garden

Gardening season is in full force with the threat of frost now behind us. It’s a good time to think about your soil. Soil compaction creates an unfriendly growing environment for plants and is a serious problem for many home gardeners. However, it is relatively easy to prevent.

Compaction transforms soil into a difficult environment for plant growth by making it harder for roots, water and soil to penetrate the ground. Major causes are working the soil when it is too wet, foot traffic and excessive rototiller use.

To reduce this problem, it is best to avoid working in the garden or walking in it when the soil is too wet. Squeeze a handful of soil and if it forms a muddy ball, rather than crumbling when you open your hand, stay out of the garden area.

Walk between plants and rows in the garden area to reduce compaction in primary plant growth areas.

Excessive rototiller use destroys soil structure and promotes compaction. When compaction takes place in a dense soil structure, it also makes root growth more difficult.

A little hand hoeing, rather than a rototiller, may be all you need to do to eliminate a few weeds. It usually causes less soil damage than repeated rototilling and is less harmful to the earthworms that help aerate the soil.

You also can use mulch to control weeds instead of tilling. A 2- to 3-inch layer of mulch relieves the pressure of walking on the soil, reducing the degree of compaction.

Source: John Strang, Extension Horticulture Specialist

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Follow these steps to keep the Tomatoes coming all season

The staple of many gardens really could use a little help from you to provide fruit for the entire season. That care should start at or just before transplanting to maintain good clean transplants that can thrive and handle all that the summer will throw at them.

The major problem of tomatoes comes from a soil born disease called early blight. Early blight is described when the plant begins to “fire up” from the bottom. Firing up refers to the lowest leaves on the plant spotting then turning yellow or black and finally falling off. When early blight is bad enough it will affect the leaves, stem and the fruit. The problem can result in the loss of the entire crop. So, what to do to prevent crop loss from early blight in tomatoes?
  •  Start with clean disease free transplants (no spots and good color). Grow your own seedlings is a better way to ensure disease free plants.
  •  After planting mulch under the plants to keep soil from bouncing up on the plant. Mulch can be organic, landscape fabric, or paper type products. 
  • Early sprays of Chlorothalonil (a protectant fungicide) applied weekly will keep your plants much cleaner. Brand names include Fungonil and Chlorothalonil.  
  • Watering should always be done at the root zone and not over the top. Sprinklers in the garden are a sure way to promote disease.
 These steps are sure to help you keep disease free plants all the way to frost.
Even though the other prevalent problem on tomatoes (Blossom End Rot) is not disease the cultural practices listed to the left will greatly decrease the occurrences of this abiotic problem. Blossom end rot is a lack of calcium being taken up by the plant because of intermittent watering and the allowing of the plant to dry between watering. So keep the plants moist and mulched and the lovely red fruit will keep coming all season.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Aphids on Daylilies

Lady Bug adult and larva
Aphids and their exoskeleton
Daylilies are by far one of the most popular perennials for Kentucky landscapes and there is no doubt there are plenty planted.  I just wanted to make you are aware that a tiny sucking insect called an Aphid is enjoying your daylilies as you read.  Their damage can develop into a major problem if controls are not taken.  But first lets talk about scouting the beds and knowing what is going on.  When you look through the daylilies what you may find is a white papery looking material on the surface of the leaves.  This will be small and scattered about the plant.  these are the exoskeleton of the aphid and was discarded when they molted. Seeing these signs will indicate that you have a population of aphids present.  The other thing I hope you see is Lady Bug activity.  Lady Bugs are notorious aphid killers and can control small populations of aphids. 

So now for the decision; if the daylily looks green and healthy especially at the crown of the plant and your are seeing plenty of lady bugs then let them work.  If you see plenty of sign of aphids, low amount of lady bugs and the center of the plant seems weak in color (yellow) then a decision to spray an insecticidal soap should be made.  For more information on this subject see Aphids

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Oaks and Boxwoods getting bombarded right now!

Oaks are taking a beating by the same insect that bounces off the security light at night.  This beetle feeds and night and its main course is your young oak leaves.  They will chew the new leaves off all the way back to the petiole leaving the tree stripped clean of foliage.  While this is not good the action does not mean doom for the tree.  If the tree is healthy the tree will simply add new leaves later.  However if it is a tree that is struggling already this activity could put over the top. See this link for control options:  Controls for insects eating ornamentals.

Boxwoods are being infested with psyllid activity.  These guys cause more cosmetic damage than anything else but that can be enough.  Psyllids cause the puckering or cupping of the leaves on boxwoods that persist all season.  See this link for control options: Boxwood Psyllid

Rain Garden Installed

Success,  The first Rain Garden has been installed at the corner of Jones and Broadway.  The workshop was held on Monday the 29th of April and the garden was installed on May 1st.   An army of volunteers jumped in and installed the garden in about an hour.  We will be adding a few day lilies later on to fill the few thin areas.  For more information on rain gardens and how they can fit into your landscape see the following site:  Residential Rain Gardens