Weather may be nice now, but don’t be fooled
by Ronella Stagner, Gardening Columnist
Jul 01, 2009 | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The wonderful month of June may have given you a false idea of what your garden will be. No matter what the weather is, there will be problems. It’s either too hot and wet or too hot and dry. There may be bugs of every description, some of which you have never seen before. There are creepy crawlers, strange spots on the leaves, some leaves falling off, wilted leaves and some leaves may have holes in them.

One thing that is a big disappointment is when you find some of your cucumbers, melon and squash plants dying for no apparent reason. It’s most likely the cucumber beetle, a black and yellow striped varmint that carries a disease of wilt. The only thing you can do is to spray often and regularly with Sevin to control the disease.

A tomato blight may show up when the weather is warm and very moist. It is a disease that shows up as brown or black spots on the bottom leaves. Pinch off the affected leaves and spray with a good fungicide.

Don’t forget that you shouldn’t spray with any insecticide, especially Sevin, until late afternoon or evening when the bees have gone for the day. We need those bees in the garden and Sevin is deadly for them.

Roses are without a doubt the best part of any garden but many gardeners are afraid to try them because of the amount of work they require. While it is true that they need quite a bit of work, maybe even a lot, but with some regular care, your roses can be the best part of your garden. They need steady watering. If it rains one to two inches per week, that may be enough. Otherwise, you need to give the large roses from five to ten gallons of water per week and the little ones need three to five gallons. Please don’t spray them late in the day because that causes the leaves to stay wet overnight and that causes mildew. “Blackspot”, the fungus that causes the leaves to turn yellow and spotted with black spots, is something that can be treated with a fungicide and believe me, you won’t get through the summer without a fungicide. I like to add a few drops of a dishwashing liquid such as Ivory to the sprayer with the fungicide to help it stick to the leaves.

Spidermites love hot dry weather and they also seem to love roses. If you get mites, the lower leaves of the plant will look dry and brownish. The mites look like black pepper. You can usually wash them away with a water wand but if that doesn’t work, you can buy miticide in any garden store or nursery.

Thrips, grasshoppers, Japanese beetles and aphids are some other insects that attack roses. All of these bad bugs must be treated with an insecticide regularly. Sevin and Malthion are two good ones. I find that my big sprayer filled with Ortho’s combination insecticide and fungicide works for me.

Roses need a special fertilizer just for roses applied every two to four weeks depending on the directions. Always water the soil well before applying the fertilizer to prevent root damage. Some fertilizers must not touch the leaves and some should be sprayed on the leaves so read the directions carefully.

Roses need a thick layer of mulch, at least three to five inches. You can use pine bark, pine needles, oak leaves or any good mulch.

Many growers like to remove the leaves from the lower part of the plant to improve the air circulation. I recommend the use of a tablespoon or two of Epsom salts per plant to keep the leaves green. Some folks use the Epsom salts every two to four weeks and some use it only once during the summer.

All of these things may seem to be a lot of trouble but the rewards are well worth the effort. And remember the above nasty bugs are just SOME that MIGHT attack your roses but you also may never be bothered by most of them.

Ma, the perfect gardener as some of you may have thought from my description, used those tobacco stalks left over from stripping tobacco as her only insecticide. Pa would bring a wagon load of them to her kitchen garden and she used them on most all her perennials and some of the flowering shrubs as I recall. She never had to worry about bugs because she just didn’t have any but she was very careful about looking for a copperhead among the leaves or even a few times, a rattlesnake. Most of us would prefer the insects and diseases.

(You can reach me at 270-522-3632 or write Ronella Stagner, 137 Main St., Cadiz, KY 42211.)
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