What’s a Gardener to Do?

— Written By Bill Hanlin and last updated by JoAnne Gryder

blossom_end_rot300This is the time of year when we get a wide variety of problems coming into the office. We often see disease problems start to show up about now and insect pests become more numerous. Homeowners can prevent further problems by knowing what to look for and when.

Bagworms are active right now and can do serious damage to plants like Leyland cypress. Look for the small bags on the tree that will probably be moving. For small numbers of bagworms, simply pick them off. A pesticide application may be needed for large numbers of bagworms.

I have had more than a few calls about wasps and hornets; particularly yellow jackets. Most wasps are not aggressive unless you disturb the nest, but avoiding the nest may not be possible. If you are going to spray the nest with an insecticide, then spray in the evening when most of the wasps are in the nest.

Diseases like early blight and powdery mildew can be a significant problem in the vegetable garden. When we have warm moist weather conditions, diseases can quickly consume the plant. Spraying a recommended fungicide on a 7 to 10 day schedule will slow the spread of these diseases.

Another common call we get is tomatoes rotting on the bottom of the fruit. Blossom end rot is not a disease, but it is a sign that the plant is having water problems. If the plant is too dry or too wet, the blossom end of many vegetables may begin to rot. Watering if the soil is extremely dry may be helpful in preventing the rot. We used to recommend spraying the plant with a calcium spray, but the application does not always work.

Weeds seem to sprout and grow rapidly this time of year. Crabgrass in particular can spread rapidly by tillers and can also produce thousands of seeds. There are herbicides that are available now that can be sprayed after the crabgrass has emerged that will control this weed.