As I write this post, sun is pouring in through my window! Now that sun is back it is time for some serious gardening. June is always the busiest and most difficult month of the year for me. Everything thing needs constant attention. Each June vegetables need to be harvested almost daily and full grown weeds seem to pop up overnight. While those jobs are normal this time of year all of our recent rains are going to cause some pretty serious, and unusual pest problems. Patty Leander sent me several tips on how to organically control some of the more common pests in our June gardens. This is such a big topic this time of year I am going to add a series of pest control tips each week in June.
- Control mosquitos-All of this rain is going to mean swarms of mosquitoes. Drain all standing water. Mosquitos can mature in as little as a half inch of water. If not possible to drain the water treat it with a product that contains the israelensis strain of Bt (also known as Bti) to kill mosquito larvae.
- Control nutgrass (Nut Sedge) with horticultural molasses-I have not tried this but I found it on Howard Garrett’s website (http://www.dirtdoctor.com/Nutgrass-Control-with-Molasses_vq3266.htm). Since I trust “The Dirt Doctor” and I have a problem with nutgrass I will be trying this in my gardens this week
- Control slugs, snails, pillbugs and earwigs with a product containing iron phosphate and spinosad- The efficacy of many pesticides can be wiped out by heavy rain so always check the forecast before application and reapply when needed.
- Expect to see cracking in tomatoes, especially if rainy weather continues-This is caused by fluctuations in moisture and temperature during periods of rapid fruit growth. Salvage fruit by cutting around the affected areas.
- Watch tomatoes for signs of early blight-Early Blight is a fungal disease that spreads by air, insects, wind and splashing water. Extension sponsored research from Ohio State University has shown that garlic oil, neem oil and seaweed extract can help reduce the severity of early blight on tomatoes; other organic options for control include potassium bicarbonate and the fungicide Serenade.
- Start seeds for fall tomatoes in late June so you will have transplants ready to set out in early August.
- Pull or hoe weeds before they set seed. If you get them before seed set they can go right into the compost
- Aphids and spider mites are becoming a problem on annual flowers and crepe myrtles. Control with strong blasts of water to the underside of leaves or spray with horticultural oils
- Deadhead annual flowers like marigolds to encourage blooming
- Mulch, mulch, mulch! Mulch controls soil temperatures, suppresses weeds and conserves moisture. Mulch often and deeply
- Don’t forget to feed your potted plants regularly-I use compost tea. If you use chemical fertilizers like Miracle Grow apply weekly at half the recommended rate.
- To avoid fungal disease, do not apply nitrogen to St. Augustine until the soil dries out
- When soil dries apply 3 to 4 lbs of nitrogen to 1000 square feet of St. Augustine
- Apply 4 to 5 lbs of nitrogen per 1000 square feet of Bermuda
- Apply 2 to 3 lbs of nitrogen per 1000 sqaure feet of Zoysia