LEAP INTO SUMMER
May 21, 2005
After a record
month of spring rain, some of my roses are healthy, others have splotchy
blackspot on them. I'll fire up the sprayer and spray milk (1/3 milk, 2/3
water) on the blackspot-infected roses. That milk spray is also said to be
effective on powdery mildew which may pop up too unless conditions dry out very
June 1, 2005
weather plays tricks on growing shallots and instead of producing bulbs, they
try to produce seeds. That's happening in the Treasure Valley this year.
When you see
flower stalks on shallot plants, use one hand to hold the bulb in place, and
pull out the flower stalk. The shallot will get the message, and turn to
Flower stalks in
onions grow in the center of the bulbs. When they start growing, the tissue
between rings of the bulb becomes soft and enlarged, effectively ruining the
onion bulb. Shallot flower stalks do not come from the bulb, however.
They're produced beside the main bulb.
enjoying the "free water," but I expect we'll be nostalgic for rains in late
July or early August.
PLANT YOUR GARDEN
-- NOW! May
I have been busy
planting my garden, and that's what you should be doing too. I have some
unusual problems in my garden that I doubt others have: Russian knapweed
and far too many millipedes.
I've fought the
Russian knapweed for 32 years by pulling. When the then Ada County Extension
agent identified it, it was so unusual he knew about the patch in my area. He
told me no spray would kill it, so I'd just have to keep pulling it. I beat it
back, but elimination was not even on the horizon.
proliferated around the edges of my back yard, intruding into raised beds and
interfering with flower and vegetable growth. There's little you can do
about quackgrass except spray with Roundup. I don't like to spray that
substance, but it has become necessary. I accidentally discovered the new
formulation that's effective even though it rains 30 minutes later is effective
on Russian knapweed. Hurray!
I've heard is effective on quackgrass is a heavy mulch of walnut leaves. I
do not have those, and the quackgrass is so widespread it would take several
trees' worth to have any real effect.
As far as
millipedes go, they're considered beneficial because they start the process of
breaking down organic matter in soil. That is useful indeed, if they're
present in ordinary numbers. But when they're so numerous they consume
planted seeds before they can germinate, they're no longer beneficial.
I'm going to be
planting seeds for food crops in the beds loaded with millipedes, so I need to
control them without poisons. Diatomaceous earth is tempting, but its main
effect of piercing insect bodies is lost when it gets wet, and of course I have
to dampen seeds for germination. I think what I'll do is bait and trap
millipedes for several days before I plant seeds. That is, I'll put cut
pieces of old banana on or barely into the soil of the beds for a few days and
see if that will trap hungry millipedes. If we don't promptly pick up pawpaws,
they're invaded by millipedes upon millipedes. If this works, I could then
discard pieces with millipedes.
finished planting my tomatoes in the garden, and found myself in the midst of
cruising wasps and hoverflies looking for food. I had started tomatoes in
my greenhouse, but oddly had little problem with aphids or whiteflies this year
except on chocolate habanero plants. Wasps are going to have to wiggle
into crinkled folds to get at the aphids there. I don't think the hover
flies will do that though.
hoverflies look like very small bees, their wings beating a mile a minute so
they can stay in one place in the air. As adults they feed on nectar and
pollen, and in so doing also pollenate blossoms, but their larvae are important
as aphid consumers. The larvae also dine on tiny caterpillars and perhaps
thrips. Hover flies are also known as syrphid flies.
Their larvae are
cream, green or brown, cylindrical and legless, looking like tiny slugs. If
they're near an infestation of aphids, definitely leave them alone because
they're most probably beneficial.
A friend who
lives in the North End gave me some plant starts for a new flower bed, and one
came with livestock-to-be: slugs. I noticed the eggs right away, and
smashed them before planting the start. Slug eggs are round, clear to
pearly, and tiny. They look like tiny shot from shells. As they
whiten near hatch, they look like Osmocote, the slow-release fertilizer.