GARDENING ... AND MORE: But for pests, June is perfect garden month
by Ronella Stagner, Columnist
Jun 25, 2014 | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
If ever there’s a perfect month, it’s June. But, alas, we are about to go into a period in June where we are constantly fighting some kind of pest in our gardens, flower gardens and vegetable gardens. Spring rains have brought us mildew, on flowers and shrubs. We know how to keep mildew under control with fungicides, at least somewhat. But we now have to cope with ants, fleas, ticks and other insects. Slugs have few predators and it is no wonder. They are such loathsome critters that about the only things that will eat slugs are a few kinds of birds, moles, shrews and snakes. The little garter snakes that have been my enemies for years will eat all the slugs they find.

Since Lyme’s disease has become well known, most of us fear being bitten by the deer ticks. In talking with my garden expert at my hardware/garden center about some of our problems with insects, I got the latest product for killing ants, fleas, ticks and many other insects. One effective product to use on your yard is Bonide’s granule. It’s supposed to be effective for four weeks. Another product that I have used, which I found very effective, is Ortho’s Bugs Be Gone. Either one of these chemicals must be used according to the directions.

I have not mentioned chiggers but I assume that the above products will take care of chiggers. I always think of Ma when mention is made of chiggers. Ma would come into the house all upset because she said she was bitten all over by chiggers. In fact, they bite somewhere around the tops of socks and around the belted part of a dress or pants. What neither Ma nor I knew is that the tiny red spot that itched is not the chigger because they fall off as soon as they have bitten. It is just a tiny speck of blood at the site of the bite. Ma would have me pick off the “chiggers” with a pin and I would hunt the little critters wherever she had a red bite area.

There are a few plants that will help you to keep some insects out of your flower garden. Most gardeners know about marigolds and many plant them in and around tomato plants. Many gardeners also plant them throughout their flowerbeds. When marigold blooms begin to fade, it’s a good plan to scatter the blossoms in the beds. I also have put the spent blooms in a sprinkling can filled with water. Let them set for a few days and sprinkle flowers and tomatoes with the water. I’m sure you have noticed that some plants never have insect problems. These are ones that give off a perfume that insects don’t like and you probably don’t like their odor either. Some of these are the herbs, and the strong smelling flowers like Russian Sage, Artemesia and Marigolds.

We who love gardening know that we can’t win all the battles but we persevere.

We need to mention one insect, which we all love to see in our garden and that is the butterfly. First, it’s important to have some plants for the butterfly larvae to feed on such as parsley, finnel, false indigo, hollyhocks and sedum. The adult butterfly likes purple coneflower, coreopsis and especially the Buddlea or butterfly bush.

I often wonder at the mysterious gene that makes some of us dedicated gardeners and others will quit working in their flowers and shrubs when the weather is too hot or too rainy or too dry or when the diseases show up and insects abound. I know where my genes come from. My dear Ma loved her flowers and could always find a few minutes to run out and pull some weeds after a rain or snip dead flowers. Before her, my great-grandmother loved to tramp in the woods to find some beautiful wild flower and though she probably didn’t know the term, she was an herbalist. She hunted the woods for special plants to use for her medicines. She was known for finding some special wildflower to dig and take home or for finding a special pretty rock for her rock garden. I have mentioned my great-grandmother’s rock garden with the Sweet Williams, which Ma carefully tended. Maybe this love of flower gardening is not inherited but comes from being with a dear grandmother so much during my childhood and following her around while she tended to her flowers.

Thank you for your calls. I can be reached at 270-522-3632 with questions, comments or just to chat.
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