|Edition 11.23||Paul Parent Garden Club News||June 9, 2011|
During June, your garden will explode with flowers, the results of all your planning, hard work and money you invested in them, so pick some of those flowers for the kitchen table. They look nice in the garden but believe me; you will enjoy them more as you drink your morning cup of coffee--and don't be scared to bring some to work with you either, for your desk, show them off!
While the weather is nice and your lawn is still green and soft, take off your shoes and socks to walk on your green carpet just to feel the texture of your lawn. Your toes will love the feel of the grass as you walk on it. If you have a garden that is surrounded by your lawn, be sure to water that garden barefoot every now and then just to feel the sensation of wet grass on your tired feet; it's better than a foot rub.
When you're picking fresh vegetables in the garden for the dinner table, be sure to eat a few peas, beans or lettuce right in the garden. This taste is what you have worked so hard for this spring and the flavor, texture and smell will excite all your senses. Listen to the snap of that green bean, your lips will feel the texture and your tongue will taste the excitement not matched by store bought vegetables.
Sit in or in front of your garden and look at what you have accomplished so far this year. What you are looking at was not an accident; it happened because of the time and effort you put into it and you should be pleased with what you accomplished. Watch the bees and butterflies dance on your flowers. Many gardeners put a lot of time in their garden but don't sit in them to enjoy the results; it's a garden party time!
Have you ever looked closely at the flowers on your flowering trees, not from a distance but right in front of you? Look at the shape of those flower clusters, the individual flowers, and the intricate design of the flower parts. Is the flower fragrant as it touches your nose? Smell it. Look at the shape of that plant, how the branches are growing on the plant, and how unique it is to your garden. These characteristics are the reasons you purchased the plant and planted it in your garden, so get up close and enjoy; it's not just a tree tree--its part of your garden to enjoy.
If you're growing herbs for the first time, I want you to kneel in your garden and pinch the foliage of your plants to smell the aroma of the foliage. Now rub the leaves between your fingers crushing them gently and smell again, you will be surprised. Now for the big test, slowly chew a small piece of the plant and experience its flavor in your mouth. Have you ever tasted fresh spearmint, basil, thyme, oregano, or rosemary in your garden before? It's time you do!
Invite a neighbor or friend to see your garden and show them what you have accomplished. Offer them some flowers or fresh vegetables to take home. Offer them your help if they did not have the success you had or ask them for their help if you're having a problem. There is nothing more enjoyable for a gardener than learning or sharing information about the garden. Go visit their garden and see what they have accomplished. The garden season is always too short, so this summer get out and enjoy your garden and those of your friends and neighbors. Touch it, smell it, look at it and enjoy it, because that is why you planted it in the first place, your garden. Enjoy!
The next 30 days could bring potential problems to your lawn, but if you keep an eye on the grass and are aware of the signs to look for, these problems will be minor. The big three lawn problems are red thread fungus, crabgrass, and Japanese beetle grubs. During the next few months, lawn weeds are not as noticeable because these weeds do not have showy flowers like the dandelions, for example, do. The problem is there, but you need to know what to look for and I will try to show you these signs and tell you how to correct the potential problems before they get out of hand.
Let's begin with red thread fungus, because it has already begun to show up in most states due to the cool and wet spring. Most years this problem is caused by hot humid weather during the summer when rainfall is limited and sprinklers are used to supply extra water to make up for lack of rainfall. When sprinklers run during the evening hours and the grass stays wet all night long, problems will develop, especially if the weather stays cloudy for several days. Warm days and cool nights increase the chances of the problem and if fog is common, it will help to increase the chances the problem even more. Coastal areas and lawns near ponds and lakes are at greater risk, but lawns surrounded by tall trees that prevent good air movement can also be at risk.
Red thread will turn your grass light tan to pink in color in 3 to 24 inch patches scattered on your lawn. Pink webbing will develop, connecting the infected blades of grass together. Red to pink cottony ball-like growth 1/4 inch, will form on the blades of grass, giving the lawn a red cast.
Begin by watering first thing in the morning, 4 to 6 am is best--not at the end of the day--so the sun can dry up surface and foliage moisture early in the morning. The water applied to the lawn is cold and it will cool down the temperature around the grass, increasing the chance of this problem. It is also found in the fall when the temperatures cool down and rainfall increases. Soils that are heavy, with clay in them, soils that drain slowly and puddles form on your lawn, soils that are on the acidic side with a PH of below 6.0 and soils that need to be fertilized are at greater risk. If you had this problem this spring, be sure to fertilize the lawn as soon as possible and watch the weather this coming fall so it does not reoccur if the fall is cool and wet. When grass growth slows down due to lack of nitrogen, the disease will become more prevalent.
Here is what to do to control the problem: Rake the lawn where the problem is developing to separate the infected blades of grass, as the problem spreads like dominoes, with blades of infected grass falling on healthy grass blades. Getting air around the plant will slow it down greatly and this cleaning also helps by removing infected blades of grass. Do not water the lawn when you see a problem, as dry grass prevents disease movement also. Sharpen your lawn mower blade so the grass is cut, not ripped, when mowing the grass. A clean-cut blade of grass can callus over easily, stopping the fungus from entering the blade of grass, while a torn blade of grass is ragged looking and cannot callus over--and your lawn may also have a white appearance to it. If you see the red threads of the fungus on the grass, be sure to bag all your clippings to prevent them from spreading all over the lawn. If you do not have a bagging lawn mower, rake the lawn in those infected areas and dispose of the grass clippings to prevent the fungus from spreading more.
Treat the fungus with a good fungus control product like Scotts "Lawn Disease Control" that can be applied with your spreader or use Bonide Lawn and Garden liquid fungicide called "Infuse" that is applied with your hose end bottle sprayer. This fungus will not kill the grass but weaken it, and thin the grass growing in those areas enough that weeds will grow in open areas left by the damage.
Next is crabgrass. If you did not treat the lawn for this grassy weed this spring, it should be developing in your thin areas of your lawn right now. Crabgrass is easy to identify in your lawn right now because it is a pale green color, the blade is wide and coarse looking with a sharp point on the tip. Crabgrass grows low to the ground, almost hugging or crawling on the soil; most good grasses grow straight up and do not crawl. Crabgrass is an annual plant and will develop in thin lawns not fertilized properly, or in open holes where the grass died out due to insect, disease, drought, poor drainage, low mowing of the lawn or damage during the winter. Crabgrass is the first and most common weed to fill in these thin spots. Crabgrass will grow in groups in these thin spots and quickly grow together.
As crabgrass matures, it will creep along the ground and roots will form on the joints of the stems. These stems become thick and heavy, giving them the strength to push down and flatten your good grass and smother it to take over it place in your lawn. The plant is very coarse and will stand out in your lawn. In late summer the plant will make seed heads that will turn red when mature. The seed head will resemble the old-fashioned TV antenna you once had on your roof of the house. Each plant can make several hundred seeds for next year. Each crabgrass plant can grow 6 to 12 inches in diameter in your lawn in just a few weeks, killing everything in its way. Crabgrass loves the sun and is not a major problem in shady lawns.
The best way to control and prevent crabgrass problems is with a pre-emergent control product that is applied before the seeds germinate. Apply the products during Late March to late April or when your forsythia is still in bloom. After the forsythia drops its flowers in the spring, the seeds are beginning to germinate and these products do not work! An application of lawn fertilizer is also recommended to help the existing grass to grow and help fill in thin spots in your lawn. Crabgrass is less of a problem in a thick, healthy lawn. Both chemical and organic products are available at your local garden center. One of the best deterrents is to raise the blade of your lawn mower to a height of 3 inches; grass cut short is easily overpowered by the fast growing crabgrass.
At this time of the year, you must use a post emergent weed control product. These products are liquid and applied with a hose type bottle sprayer or ready to use bottle sprayer. Look for the new Bayer Advanced Crabgrass Killer for Lawns, Bonide Lawn and Garden, Weed Beater plus, Crabgrass and Broadleaf Weed Killer or Ortho Weed-Be-Gon MAX with Crabgrass Killer. Each product will kill Crabgrass plants on contact with the foliage and also work systemically to kill the roots of the plant. These products are rainproof in just an hour or two; you should keep your pets and your children off the treated lawn until it has dried properly, just like any other weed killer. New this year is the first powder product that will kill crabgrass that has germinated in your lawn. It's from Bonide Lawn and garden called "Weed Beater Complete." It contains products that will kill crabgrass both pre-and post-germination. The smaller the crabgrass plant is when you apply these products, the better they will work so use them now for the best results.
The last problem for this month is to prepare for the Japanese beetle grubs that are in your lawn now from last year and the new grubs that will arrive during July and August. The white grub is an insect stage of the Japanese beetle, that tunnels into your soil and eats the roots of your lawn. He is quite fussy and will only eat the roots of grass--and only good grasses, not weedy grasses like crabgrass, quack grass, or even bentgrass. The grub will not eat roots of broadleaf weeds like clover, dandelions or chickweed, only the good stuff. Right now, they are large, one to one and a half inches long with a brown head and black rounded tail, usually found in the soil curled up like the letter C.
The grub right now is beginning to change to a stage called a pupa, a sort of mummy where it will change to a coppery hard-shell flying and eating machine. The Japanese beetles that will emerge from the ground in just a few weeks, traditionally around the fourth of July, are a major pest of your gardens, shrubs and trees, not the lawn. At this stage the coppery colored, hard shelled, one-inch beetle has two goals in mind: eat several times its weight in plant foliage each day, and mate like crazy to produce eggs for next year.
Japanese beetles love most deciduous plants from vegetables, flowers, shrubs and trees and will not bother most evergreen plants. Their favorite plants include rose bushes, grapes, mountain ash trees, and most flowering trees--especially flowering plum. As the Japanese beetle matures and prepares for its egg-laying cycle it will dig into your well-kept lawn and deposit eggs in the ground where they will hatch in just a few short weeks. This destructive stage is best controlled with the new Bonide Lawn And Garden Beetle Killer that comes in a ready to use bottle sprayer that you just attach to your hose and spray. Bayer Advance has a Complete Insect Killer as a liquid or powder and Ortho has Bug-B-Gon Max.
As the eggs hatch and develop into tiny fast growing grubs, they will eat the roots of your lawn and if you have many eggs in your lawn, they will destroy and kill your lawn during the late summer months and the fall season. This is the best and easiest time to kill this insect because they are all together in the soil, not flying around your yard from tree to tree. You have three methods to control them in the ground: first with a soil insecticide like Season Long Grub Control from Bayer or Grub-Ex from Scotts applied at this time of the year or in the early spring, April and will last right into the fall months.
If you have never had grubs in your lawn before and do not treat your lawn, that's great; there is no need to apply a pesticide if you do not have a problem. If in the fall you find a problem with animals digging and you find grubs have come to your lawn, ask for a grub insecticide called Dylox. This is a new concentrated grub killer that releases all it power in 24 hours, killing every grub in your lawn, for fall use only, as it will not protect your lawn during the summer months when grubs are most active.
The second method is with a disease called "milky-spore disease," a naturally occurring disease of Japanese beetles that can be applied to your lawn. This product was developed by government research and Saint Gabriel Organics for the home owner. It must be applied spring and fall for three years; once established in your lawn, it is safe for up to 25 years.
The newest, all natural, and fastest acting product attacks the grub in the soil with a predator called a nematode. These nematodes are microscopic worm like creatures that live in our soils but many die during our cold winter, so we must re-introduce them each spring or summer to the lawn. This creature will tunnel thru the soil looking for grubs to feed on, and once found will pierce the skin of the grub and feed on his innards. While feeding it will also mate and reproduce itself so new emerging nematodes can move out of the grub and look for their own food source. The nematode is very effective and will kill all soil stages--even the very large and mature grub that most of the chemical granular products will not control.
You must apply nematodes each spring or summer but they do a wonderful job in your lawn. Nematodes have been around for a long time but before last year the garden center was not able to keep them alive until you were ready to use them. A new company from Canada, called Environmental Factor, has found and hybridized a new much hardier species that, if refrigerated, can stay dormant for up to 90 days. Today's garden centers will store the nematodes in recyclable containers while under refrigeration to keep them alive until you're ready to apply them to your lawn. Just pour the carton of nematodes in a hose- end bottle sprayer, spray them on your lawn, and water well. Go to www.environmentalfactor.com for more information and a dealer near you. If you want to stay organic this is the product for you.
For years we have had Japanese beetle traps to use to help catch the adult beetles while they feed and mate in our gardens--but they had little effect on the population because many beetles came to the trap and quickly escaped to feed on our plants. A new beetle trap has been developed that will catch not only the Japanese beetle but the Oriental beetle as well; no other trap will do this. Oriental beetles also cause damage to your lawn. This new trap is more effective than the older models and non-toxic to the environment. The new pheromone attractant is more powerful and will last 6 to 8 weeks in your yard. The trap is much larger, needs to be emptied less often, and is reusable. Go to www.rescue.com for more information and a dealer locator. Rescue also makes a housefly trap that I am testing right now with incredible results on my back deck. In just one week I have captured over an inch of dead flies in this trap and I have just set out their new Yellow Jacket, Hornet, and Wasp Trap for testing. I love new technology and these products use no insecticide! Give it a try, you will like it.
From Cape Cod, Rhode Island and Connecticut to the North Shore of Boston, a tiny caterpillar is raging war on our leaf trees, shrubs and flowers this spring and his name is the winter moth. The winter moth start to cause us problems as it emerges from the cold soil during late November and can stay active into January. These male moths are attracted to bright lights and you may see them around porch lights from Thanksgiving to New Years.
The male moth is small, less than an inch wide and light brown in color. The female is gray, has no wings and cannot fly, so she sits at the base of trees waiting to mate with the male moth. Once the mating cycle is finished she will begin to deposit egg clusters on the tree trunks and crawl up the tree to leave egg clusters on branches, in the crevices of the bark and anywhere she can hide them. When the eggs are all deposited both the male and female die and the eggs sit on the trees waiting for spring to arrive.
When the air temperature reaches 50 to 55 degrees, the eggs begin to hatch. Newly hatched larvae or caterpillars climb high into the tree, feed on buds, and produce a long silken fiber to help make them buoyant; when the wind begins to blow, off they go, moving from tree to tree like in a hot air balloon. They feed on flower buds especially fruit and flowering trees, but when these buds are devoured, the larvae or caterpillars move on to leaf buds and newly sprouting leaf clusters.
The caterpillars feed in the leaf clusters during the day and as they grow in size and mature, move out on their own to feed on young foliage on the tree. In time, they will create a new balloon silk strand and take off to feed on shrubs and perennials on the ground. They are not fussy eaters and as long as the foliage is soft and tender they will eat it. The caterpillar will grow to one inch and is pale green with white stripes running down each side of the body. They eat until middle to late June, depending on the weather, then crawl to the ground where they will dig into the ground and go into a pupa cycle until they emerge in November and start the cycle all over again.
The best product to use is Spinosad from Fertilome Lawn and Garden or Captain Jack Caterpillar Killer from Bonide; both are natural pesticides from soil microbes and considered organic and bio-rational. These products are safe to use around pets and children once dried on the plant. These products are more effective that the traditional Bacillus thuringiensis or B.T. and will kill much larger types of caterpillar insects; also the product is more easily absorbed into the foliage and does not wash off plants as easily. Both products can be used in the vegetable garden and will control tomato hornworms, cabbage lopes, and the dreaded Colorado potato beetle.
Treat your garden plants and trees now if you have holes in the foliage, to prevent them from stripping or damaging your plants any further--and to prevent them from moving into the soil to pupate. They will not kill the tree or shrub the first year but if it happens 3 years in a row your trees and shrubs could die, perennials will fail to flower and your garden will look as if it has been invaded and scarred.
Are you looking for a great gift for a gardener (or yourself)? This garden journal helps make planning and organizing easy. This journal, autographed personally by Paul, makes a perfect gift for gardeners. The cover holds a 5x7 or 4x6 photo and a heavy-duty D-ring binder.
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What You'll Need:
Step by Step:
Cook spaghetti according to package directions.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet, sauté the onion, celery and garlic powder in oil until tender.
Add the spaghetti sauce, beans, tomatoes, sugar, salt, oregano and bay leaf.
Bring to a boil; cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
Remove and discard bay leaf.
Drain spaghetti; top with sauce and Parmesan cheese.
Yield: 6 servings
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