Holes start coming in the leaves of magnolias. The culprit is a little weevil that feeds in July and drops on the ground before August and that is the stage when you can kill them. There are several sprays on the market now so check with your local garden guru at your nursery or garden center for the best agent to kill the weevils.
Although azaleas have few insect problems, the azalea lace bug can cause a lot of damage to the leaves of azaleas and rhododendrons. You can identify this critter by the specks that spot the underside of leaves. The same advice applies as with the magnolia weevil. We once used Sevin but newer and more effective agents are on the market so see your local garden center person.
Another pest that comes along about this time of year is the old golden-colored threadlike string that winds around and around plants and chokes them. This disease is called “strangleweed” or “goldthread” and is the same pest that Pa always called “dodder”. I have only had it once and I brought it into my flowerbeds from manure from an old barn. I spent many hours pulling it from a few plants and finally had to pull up some of the perennials and burn them. Never put that stuff on the compost. I have had a few calls over the years about this pest so I know it still exists.
Young trees and newly planted shrubs need to be watered thoroughly during mid-summer’s hot, dry weather. Remove all grass from around the trees and mulch around them so that water can get down to the roots. A good way to be sure of that is to put a pipe into the soil when planting, being sure that the pipe goes down to the bottom of the roots, and then put a hose into the pipe to water. I have used the same method to water tomato plants which require so much water only I screw the top off a gallon milk jug, cut the bottom out, and bury it upside down near the tomato plant when it is young, and then fill the jug with gravel. Now, when you water through the jug, all the water gets to the roots of the tomato plant. As all gardeners know, it’s hard to get water to the roots of tomato plants. I have found that using deep mulch, three or more inches, of straw all around the plants is a big help in keeping the soil moist. I also found it was a marvelous place for garter snakes to stay cool.
From now until the end of August is the ideal time to start little roses under the fruit jar method. It is so simple and so much fun. Since I have gone into the details of this method in recent articles, I won’t go into more details except to say that I have gotten many starts this way. I always start several cuttings of the same variety because some will not root. I have also found that the old fashioned roses are very easily started, as are the miniatures. Many years ago, I found a very old rose at the head of a child’s grave in a local cemetery. It was a little white rose with a yellow center just like one my Ma had in her yard. I got several cuttings and started enough to share with friends. The lettering on the little stone had eroded and I often wondered about the little child and the mother who planted the rose.
Ma lived near enough to four ladies that they could visit in the summer to spend an afternoon quilting or just visiting. I was usually there until after we moved from the farm so I was like a little sponge, listening to them laugh and tell funny stories. Incidentally, I learned to quilt before I was seven and Ma would put several Sears catalogs on a chair for me to bring my height up to the quilt. She had screws in the ceiling of the “front room” from which the quilt would hang. When she wasn’t quilting, she would roll the quilt back up to the ceiling. Two or three ladies could sit on each side and they got a lot of quilting done. Before they left, they would examine the flowers that were in bloom and usually take a bouquet home with them, and that is how Ma got starts of some roses. It seemed that the time the roses were in bloom was the ideal time to start some with the fruit jar method.
I often marvel at the goodness of those middle-aged ladies, and sometimes a younger one, who didn’t often have the opportunity to spend half a day just visiting. They never gossiped and never a harmful word was said; they just talked of the community news and their family news, along with recipes and new ideas. I love to reminisce of those wonderful times.
Please feel free to call me at 270-522-3632 or write to: Ronella Stagner, 137 Main Street, Cadiz, KY 42211.