How Was Your Summer?
Wow! What a summer it has been. Our landscaping company has been incredibly busy with installations, renovations, and maintenance. We’ve battled parasitic insects, fungal problems, and of course…weeds. While things have slowed momentarily before the onslaught of leaves, cool weather planting, and prepping for winter, we thought that this would be a good time to get back in touch with you…the crew. Hopefully, this posting finds you all healthy, and your gardens in fine condition. Below you’ll find some practical advice, new resources, and an interesting story concerning an egregious horticultural horror.
Recently while reading the garden section of our local newspaper we were appalled by a letter written in to the local garden columnist asking for advice. The writer began by explaining that a neighbor had planted Trumpet Vine (Campsis radicans), and it had moved onto her property. Trumpet vine is a vigorous and potentially invasive grower that can quickly get out of control without adequate attention. If you don’t want to put in the time pruning and containing it, please don’t plant it.
The letter writer said she had been battling the plant, and had applied Sevin to the foliage in hopes of killing the vines. For those of you that don’t know, Sevin is an insecticide not an herbicide, and will in no way kill nor control the growth of a plant. Trumpet Vine produces an abundance of bright orangish-red trumpet shaped flowers which are a very powerful attractant to hummingbirds and other beneficial insects. In an attempt to control the vine this person, unaware of the proper chemical to use doused it with an insecticide – most likely (though unintentionally) killing many of the beneficial pollinators attracted to it. This sort of mistake is maddening! Sevin contains Carbaryl, a chemical acutely toxic to humans, marine life, amphibians, and most wildlife. The columnist, politely and respectfully replied, advising her to pull the vines, and then use an herbicide to control the new ones. Unfortunately, the columnist did not take the opportunity to point out that insecticides do not kill plants, and that this broad spectrum insecticide can cause harm to insects, wildlife and marine life (she was on a coastal property). Nor did he stress the importance of using less hazardous treatments in the attempt to control plants and insects. For example: insecticidal soaps or neem oil are more environmentally friendly than Sevin. They are safer to apply, effective and much less damaging to beneficial species. For more ecologically friendly choices check out the Natural and Biorational Pesticides web site. Less environmentally harmful methods should always be the first line of defense before using stronger chemicals in the attempt to control plants and insects.
If you have a pest (plant, insect, or animal) that you’re not sure about, or how to control, please contact the hhteam, or your local extension agent to keep from applying ineffectual toxins and further polluting our world.
Two Cool New Online Resources
The US Department of Agriculture has launched a new website called hungrypests.com dedicated to identifying/tracking pests and invasive species. This new site has a wealth of information and advice for gardeners, farmers, and all outdoor enthusiasts. You can stay up to date with pest movement, treatment and prevention, and report pests in your area.
There is another cool website called www.opentreemap.org. Trees play a crucial role in healthy urban environments by improving air quality, reducing energy costs, and enhancing property values. This new app called OpenTreeMap helps municipalities track information on urban street trees by enabling both government staff and the public to get involved. If you have the time, this could be a fun and productive project. Start your tree map today.
With autumn just around the corner, many of you will be fertilizing, overseeding, and winterizing turf. Please soil test now, so that you will know, how much of, which nutrients to apply. Over fertilization of residential yards is a major source of water pollution. We can all do our part by simply soil testing. You may also consider adding humus, compost, or other bio-matter to your soil. This helps to keep the fertilizer in place improving availability to the grass and preventing runoff/leaching.
Prune dead wood now. Dead wood is far easier to spot before the foliage on deciduous plants drop. Dead wood is an invitation for bugs and disease to move into your yard.
Be sure to totally remove (in bags to go to the trash, not in the compost pile) insect infested and diseased leaves from around weakened plants. Leaves left to overwinter in the garden simply provide habitat for the insect or disease to remain there and reappear in the spring; in larger numbers and stronger than ever!
Over this summer, we lost two wonderful crew members. Both loved the garden, nature, and the abundance of joy that it brings. Farewell to Cleoyn Lewis and Amy Castleberry. You are both loved and greatly missed.
If you have any questions, stories, or pics that you are willing to share (anonymously is fine), please contact us.