Thursday, August 29, 2013

Annual flower variety trial update.

As you may be aware the Nelson County Extension office is participating in a state wide variety trial this year and things are going well.  The 4-H teen Council and I planted the twenty varieties in early May on the Extension office property.  The planting was to undergo no miraculous efforts to maintain, just simple everyday maintenance.  This include up front fertilization, weed management, and mulching. 

The Kentucky Home Extension Master Gardeners have evaluated the plantings once a month since the install and will continue to do so until frost.  Later we will publish the findings as to which plants performed best overall.   If you are close stop by and see the planting, it continues to receive compliments from the public for adding a very nice splash of color to the neighborhood.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Bagworms: pest problem of the week!

Bagworms are voracious feeders once they reach a critical size.  Evidently we are at that critical size now which is about a month and a half behind when they usually become a problem.  Bagworms are the tree ornaments of nature.  The caterpillar forms and lives in its own pouch domicile.  The bag is spun to create an extremely tough structure and they continue to add to the size as they increase their size.  They live in, mate in and feed from the comfort of their living room.  When they attach to a branch they resemble a little ornament hanging from the tree. However, gain no satisfaction from their decoration because these buggers can defoliate a spruce, arborvitae, pine, cedar, etc. short order.

Observing your plants will be the best defense to thwart off an invasion. Stay diligent beginning in May and check periodically.  They begin as a hatchling from the overwintered bag (with as many as 300 siblings) and are very small.  Their small size and an incomplete bag make them susceptible to what ever you decide to use as your offense.  For more detailed information and control measures see the University of Kentucky publication: Bagworms on Landscape Plants

Monday, August 12, 2013

Lumpy Lawns caused by Mole Mania!

Lots of folks are dealing with lumpy lawn syndrome these days.  With the above average moisture for this time of year in Central Kentucky Moles have enjoyed an extended run (pardon the pun). Therefore extending the fury of many homeowners in the process. 

When you have moles it tells me really two things: 1) you have a particularly nice piece of soil and 2) you have an ample selection of earthworms.  Now neither of the two are problem in their own but when that becomes the domicile and smorgasbord for the local mole population a problem is born.  The question usually becomes "How do I get rid of the Moles?".  The process is not an overly simple one and I need to dispel some myths about moles as we go along.  For example white grubs have really gotten a bad rap as being the cause of a growing mole problem.  While moles will eat a grub, they are not the food of choice.   It turns out that they are much happier with a good selection of earthworms.  In other words don't waste your money on controlling grubs to control moles it just won't be effective.  Products that are made from Castor bean extract are intended to run moles off and will do so for only a short period of time.  Once the mole gets used to it he/she comes back.   In fact the only thing that consistently rids you of moles long term is an earthworm shaped bait that contains the active ingredient Bromethalin. 

The nitty gritty includes rolling down all the runs (feeding tunnels) in the lawn, then wait for one to pop back up.  This usually indicates a main feeding run and the bait should be deposited into the run.  Once the bait is taken the mole will survive another 24 hours.  There are usually only one mole per acre because of their territorial nature however once you have removed one mole there remains a good chance that a neighboring mole will take over the runs.  You must remain diligent if you are to rid the lawn of moles.  I have such bad soil that I would love to have a mole working my yard at least then aeration would be taking place.