Summer's Dirty Dozen
by Lynn Hunt
Cleaning up summer’s dirty dozen.
The scourges of summer have
arrived—all those ugly garden nuisances we attempt to avoid, generally
without success. I’ve dubbed them the Dirty Dozen and have put together
a few tips to help banish these blights and get us back on the right
Have your roses lost their leaves? Similar sightings all over the country can be blamed on
unusually severe cases of blackspot. Often spores survive the winter and
the fungus gets off to an early start during the spring. Clean up and
destroy damaged leaves, then spray a fungicide according to label
directions until the problem is under control. Spray early in the morning
to keep from damaging plants during hot spells.
If you’ve managed to avoid
blackspot, chances are you’ve been plagued by mildew. Cool wet springs
create ideal conditions for the formation of this disfiguring fungus that
targets roses, zinnias, crepe myrtle and bee balm.
Remove infected leaves on the ground and prune out damaged areas.
Then apply a fungicide recommended by your Growise expert to prevent
The first tendency is to launch a
full-scale chemical attack as soon as beetles are spotted. There is a more
sensible treatment. Mix ¼ to ½ teaspoon of Sevin with water in a quart
mister bottle and spot treat problem areas. (Be sure to mark the bottle
For Garden Use Only.) This
method allows you to send beetles to an early grave without harming
If your cukes, squash, cantaloupes
and watermelons haven’t been bugged already, they soon will be. Cucumber
beetles transmit bacteria with which can kill plants. Most horticultural
experts recommend controlling the pesky beetles by spraying with Sevin or
I love the Far Side cartoon which
shows a family of slugs in their car heading for the Great Salt Lake. The
caption reads: “Slug vacation disasters.” If only we could round up
all the slimy creatures in our gardens and send them to Utah.
Unfortunately we keep trying things like salt and pans of beer to keep
them in check. Here are a couple more natural solutions that might help:
try placing a ring of crushed egg shells, sand or wood ashes around the
BLOSSOM END ROT
Uneven watering and/or a lack of
calcium can be the culprits here. Tomatoes require one inch of rain per
week so be sure to water deeply—don’t just sprinkle the surface.
The lack of rain, humidity and high
temperatures can leave patches of lawn looking sad. Raise your mower
blades during the dog days of summer.
These ugly customers can defoliate a
plant in a jiffy. Seek, pick off and destroy.
Spider mites are not insects at all
but minute arachnid relatives of spiders that take up residence on the
undersides of foliage—particularly roses.
Hot dry weather is an invitation for a mite bonanza. If you suspect
a problem, shake an affected leaf over a sheet of white paper on a sunny
day. If you see little
critters moving on the paper, rush to get your water wand and spray the
underside of the foliage daily until the problem disappears.
Severe cases may require a pesticide. Water early in the day so
foliage has a chance to dry before dark or you will need to refer to items
one and two above.
Again, hot weather will allow these
annoying pests to enjoy a banner year.
Mix water and dishwashing soap in a small spray bottle and spritz
the suckers till they fall off and die.
If you don’t want to see your
evergreens defoliated or possibly destroyed, bag up bagworms and destroy
A ZILLION ZUCCHINIS
Remember last summer when you vowed
not to plant too many squash, tomatoes—you fill in the name—ever
again? Here’s a tip: take a photo of the stacks of stuff you can’t
give away and post it on the fridge come planting time next year. Maybe
modern science and common sense can help us can get rid of powdery mildew,
hornworms and aphids. But there is no known cure for overplanting.