Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Bugs of Summer Have Arrived!

Good gardening friend Paul Parent of the Paul Parent Garden Club ( sends out a great newsletter every week with pertinent gardening topics. I encourage you to go to his website to sign up for his newsletter. Paul can also be heard every Sunday morning from 6 AM to 10 AM at his website or at WBACH (104.7 FM) every Sunday morning from 6 AM to 9 AM. Paul recently sent this article out called The Bugs Have Summer Have Arrived (I may occasionally add a few comments in italics) and here it is:

"After a quiet start to the bug side of the garden, it seems that all of a sudden they have all arrived to my yard and garden. The Japanese beetles have been here for 3 weeks now, but their numbers have escalated after all the rain we had last week. They are feeding on everything--flowering trees, roses, perennials and even a few houseplants that are spending the summer outside. Once the heat of the day fades, after supper is the best time to apply a product like Garden Eight from Bonide Lawn and Garden. Beneficial insects are also back home, and by the next morning the product will have dried on the plant, minimizing problems to them. Liquid concentrates are better than powdered products, less contact to the insect.

Garden Eight can also control the Colorado potato beetles in your garden that are feeding on potatoes, peppers, and even tomatoes. Look for a rounded hard shell beetle with stripes running from head to tail. All beetles eat their weight in foliage every day and lay eggs for help to clean out your plants.

The end of last week the tomato hornworms arrived in my garden. This is the biggest insect we have in our gardens--sometimes growing to 4 inches long and one inch thick, or as big as my index finger. This bug will eat not only the leaves of your tomato plants but will also chew on the tomatoes themselves. They get their name from the one-inch horn on their backsides. As big as they are, you would think they would be easy to find--but these caterpillars have the ability to change color, depending on the color of the foliage of your tomato plants. He is usually near the top of the plant where he has eaten all the foliage from the plant and left you only a stem. You will also find 1/8 inch droppings on the foliage below where a caterpillar fed (if there's any foliage left). I try to pick hornworms off the plant when possible and squash them into the ground with my shoe, returning them to the soil. If you can't stand squishing them, you can drop them in a bucket of soapy water. Two years ago, I picked 132 in one day off 30 plants. When I finished I sprayed the garden with Captain Jack Spinosad organic from Bonide Lawn and Garden. I wanted to make sure they were gone for good!

I have several pots of angel's trumpet about ready to bloom and the other day one of the plants had holes all over the foliage. The night before I saw no holes as I watered them. I could find nothing on the plant until Tuesday, when the culprit-- a grasshopper--showed his face. In the daisy perennial garden near the plants I noticed similar damage and found more of them. Now this is WAR! Out came the Garden Eight to control them and it worked. Don't give grasshoppers a chance or they will destroy your garden quickly.

In my flowering crabapples I noticed two tent caterpillar nests in the early stage of development. Tent caterpillars are a bit early but everything seem to be ahead of schedule this year. Captain Jack Spinosad takes care of them, it is organic and my trees are safe for a while again.

While I had the spinosad out I checked the cold crops like cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and my wonderful Brussels sprouts for signs of loopers--and yes they were here. Good old Captain Jack has cleaned them up. There is nothing worse than finding the looper in a salad of fresh vegetables you just picked, eating his share of fresh broccoli.

I also found that my potted bay leaf had a bit of black and sticky powder on some of the leaves. Scale insects have arrived on the plant, so out came the All Season Oil to control them after I washed the plant with a bit of Dawn soap and water. Gardening is fun but can be a full time job at this time of the year. Enjoy!!! "

This is a very informative article and we thank Paul Parent for his advice. All the products he mentions are appropriate for garden use and sold right here at Skillin's. Let us know if we can help you through any gardening questions in what is turning out to be a great gardening season!
Mike Skillin
Skillin's Greenhouses
July 31, 2010

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