Control ants by storing food in airtight containers; make sure to clean up any food crumbs or spills. Keep ants out by caulking cracks and crevices that provide entryways into your home. If necessary, use bait stations made with boric acid, but be sure to place them out of the reach of children and pets. If ants are a problem on shrubs or trees, band the trunks with a product such as Tanglefoot.
Fire Blight affects apples, pears and related ornamentals. Growing tips and branches appear burned, often with a dark oozing liquid. Prune off at least 8-12 inches below the infected area. Discard all diseased wood and clean pruners with a strong bleach solution after each cut.
Prune hydrangeas to control size and shape. Cut off older stems that have flowered. For large flower clusters, reduce the number of stems. For lots of smaller flowers, keep lots of nicely spaced stems.
Yellowjackets and wasps can be aggressive when defending their nests, so avoid the area if possible. When eating outdoors, keep all foods well covered. Place a piece of meat or an open soda at a good distance away from your table to lure them away.
Deep Tree Watering should be done about twice during the summer. Trees planted in the lawn get topical watering but still need occasional deep watering. Don’t let sprinklers hit the trunk of the tree as this can cause crown rot. Use a soaker or drip hose around the drip line and let water slowly run for 2 to 3 hours. A mature ornamental or street tree may not need any water. Mature fruit trees should be watered every 3 to 4 weeks. Young fruit trees need watering every 2 weeks or more.
Bitter Pit is a physiological disorder that affects many varieties of apples. Bitter pit develops after fruit has been picked. It is caused by low levels of calcium in fruit tissues. Affected fruit will develop small brown, sunken lesions that becomes dark and corky. Fruit that develops on vigorous, leafy, upright growing branches is more likely to be affected than fruit growing on spurs or horizontal wood. Highly susceptible cultivars include: Red Delicious, Granny Smith, Golden Delicious, Jonathan and Gravenstein. The condition is generally caused by vigorous leaf growth, poor fruit set, and hot, dry growing conditions that cause calcium to divert to the leaves. Spraying with a calcium nitrate solution (1/2 teaspoon per gallon of water) just after bloom and again six weeks later may help.
Tomato Russet Mites deplete the juice from the cells of leaves, stems and fruit. They usually start at the base of the plant and move upwards. If not controlled, pests can kill plants. At first sign of damage, treat with sulfur dust or a spray solution of wettable sulfur and spreader-sticker.
Tomato psyllid injects a toxin that causes curling of leaves on preflowering plants, stunting, yellowing of leaves and, if untreated, the death of the plant. The adults are very small (1/10 of an inch) and resemble a cicada. They have white or yellowish markings on the thorax, clear wings, and lines on their abdomens. They lay white eggs (which quickly turn pink) on the underside of leaves. For organic control, a Spinosad spray such as Entrust can be used.
For our complete list of August Gardening Tips, click on: http://www.mastergardeners.org/tips/august.html
Check water levels of your plants by using a moisture meter or by digging into the soil a few inches to ensure that the roots have sufficient water. Whether you are using drip irrigation, sprinklers, or hand watering – it is important to make sure you aren’t over or under watering. Moisture meters can be purchased at most garden center or hardware stores for under $10.00.
Remove suckers from roses. Suckers are rapid-growing, long canes that should be easy to spot. Prune them below the bud union. Also deadhead roses, and apply an organic rose food. It is also a good idea to occasionally wash off roses using a blast of water from the hose. This will help remove aphids, ants, and mites.
Cucumber beetles feed on zucchini, crookneck squash, melons and beans. They can be difficult to control; hand picking is recommended. Adults overwinter in weedy areas, so it’s best to control weeds year round.
Squash bugs are about 1/2 of an inch to an inch long, brownish-yellow and flattened like a stink bug. Zucchini is one of their favorite plants to feed on. Damaged leaves will blacken and drop off. The bugs can be difficult to control; placing row covers over young plants help prevent infestations.
Common tomato problems:
Tomato Russet Mites deplete the juice from the cells of leaves, stems and fruit. They usually start at the base of the plant and move upwards. If not controlled, pests can kill plants. At first sign of damage, treat with sulfur dust or a spray solution of wettable sulfur and spreader-sticker. For complete details, go to: http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/r783400111.html
Fusarium wilt is a serious fungus that invades the plant through its roots. Individual branches and leaves will become yellow and wilt. Infected plants usually die. To avoid this problem, plant resistant varieties, labeled (F). Rotate crops – don’t plant tomatoes in affected soil for several years.
Verticillium wilt causes yellowing of older leaves. Leaves will develop a V-shaped pattern that turns from yellow to brown and eventually dies. Sun-related fruit damage occurs due to loss of foliage. Verticillium wilt seldom kills the plant, but reduces vigor and yield. Rotating crops will help reduce the symptoms. Next year, plant varieties with a (V) or (VF) designation which are resistant to the wilt.
Tomato hornworm has 8 chevron-shaped stripes on each side of its body versus the tobacco hornworm which has 7 diagonal strips. Hornworms can be extremely large, up to 4 inches in length, and leave large, visible black droppings on the leaves. They feed on blossoms, leaves and fruit. They can cause extensive damage to the plant and scar the fruit. Hand picking is the best option for control. If necessary, spray with Bacillus thuringiensis (BT).
Blossom-end rot is a very common problem that appears as dark leathery patches on the bottom end of the fruit. It is generally caused by inconsistent watering and/or calcium deficiency. Try to water on a regular basis, especially during hot, dry weather. Mulching around plants will also help prevent moisture loss. When planting new tomatoes, considering agricultural lime or calcium-based fertilizers will help prevent calcium deficiency.
For our complete list of July Gardening Tips, click on: http://www.mastergardeners.org/tips/july.html
Deadhead roses, salvias, dahlias, to encourage continual blooming. Remove spent buds from camellias, rhododendrons, and azaleas.Check your irrigation & mulch if you didn’t get around to inspecting your irrigation system or putting down that very important layer of mulch, it’s not too late. You definitely want to do to it before the summer heat sets in.
Chill hours for fruit trees are essential for maximizing fruit production. Chill hours are calculated by adding up the hours during the fall and winter that are below 45°F. The number of chill hours determines the bud break, fruit set and fruit development. It is very important to select the proper varieties for your area, especially when planting sweet cherry, peach, apricot, nectarine and apple trees. Chill hours can range from four days (<100 hours) for persimmons to up to six to eight weeks for sweet cherries.Control earwigs which feed on soft plants can cause significant damage. They feed at night and hide in moist, tight spaces during the day. Trap them by setting out moistened, tightly rolled newspaper at night and then discard it in the morning.Fire Blight shows up in the spring. It causes blackened branches and twigs that look like they have been scorched. It often affects fruit trees such as apple, pear loquat, and quince; as well as toyons, hawthorns and crabapples. It is spread by insects, rain and pruning; if left unattended it can kill the tree. Prune the infected branch about 8-12 inches below the visible damage.Prune suckers from rose bushes. It can be difficult to tell the difference between suckers and basal canes. They both shoot straight up with vigorous growth. Suckers grow from below the bud union (the bump below where the rose bush starts to branch) and should be cut off at the point of origin. Sucker growth looks different from the rest of the plant; it is usually longer and more willowy. Basal canes originate at the bud union and should be left on – they are the best wood on the plant.
Too much fruit? If you have an abundance of fruit and have already “over-shared” with you neighbors; contact Village Harvest. They offer volunteers that will pick your fruit and then donate it to a worthy food bank: http://www.villageharvest.org
For a complete list of June Gardening Tips, click on: http://www.mastergardeners.org/tips/june.html
Add a layer of mulch around trees and shrubs to retain moisture, provide nutrients and deter weeds. Apply a 2-3 inch layer of organic matter or of chipped tree trimmings; be sure to keep it several inches away from the trunks of the plant to prevent rot. Don’t practice “wall-to-wall” mulching; remember the bees that nest in the ground.
Control earwigs which feed on soft plants can cause significant damage. They feed at night and hide in moist, tight spaces during the day. Trap them by setting out moistened, tightly rolled newspaper at night and then discard it in the morning.
Fire Blight shows up in the spring. It causes blackened branches and twigs that look like they have been scorched. It often affects fruit trees such as apple, pear and loquat; as well as toyons, hawthorns and crabapples. It is spread by insects, rain and pruning; if left unattended it can kill the tree. Prune the infected branch about 8-12 inches below the visible damage. Sanitize prunes between cuts.
Powdery Mildew is a common disease on many plants; it produces a white powdery appearance on leaves. It can be found on roses, dahlias, peas and squash. A homemade spray can be effective. Add 4 teaspoons of baking soda to a gallon of water and mix in 2½ teaspoons of light horticulture oil (or salad oil). Spray the affected plants with the mixture. Some plants may be sensitive, so spray sparingly.
Prevent rust on snapdragons, sunflowers, sweet peas and pansies by avoiding overhead watering, and by practicing good sanitation. Rusts are easily identified by the dry, brown, orange, or yellowish spores that form on lower leaf surfaces. Upper leaf surfaces of heavily infected plants can become spotted or turn yellow or brown. Remove and destroy affected plants or plant parts as soon as they appear. Fungicides, such as neem oil, can be applied at the first signs of infection.
Carpenter bees are about an inch long and are similar in appearance to bumble bees. They do not sting. They are beneficial insects that pollinate many plants and trees. They tunnel into unpainted softwoods such as pine, fir, and redwood. Adults overwinter in their nests and emerge in spring. If they are a problem in your home or garden structures, wait until the bees have emerged, then fill the holes with steel wool and wood filler. Apply paint to the surface to prevent re-entry.
Pocket Gophers make their presence known by building crescent shaped mounds of dirt. They feed on plant and tree roots as they tunnel through the soil, they are active year round and can have up to three litters a year in well watered areas. They also gnaw on irrigation lines and divert water into their tunnels, making it difficult to properly water plants. Adults live about three years. Trap them using Macabee or box traps for the best means of control. UC Pest Note on Gophers. (http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn7433.html)
Soil Solarization can be used to control diseases, nematodes and weeds. Make sure the area is free of dirt clods and visible weeds – it needs to be as smooth as possible. Make a shallow trench around the area and water well. Lay down clear, transparent plastic; do not use black or colored plastic. Anchor it to the ground by placing the edges of the plastic into the trench and then fill the trench with soil. Soil temperatures are generally the hottest in June and July, but good results can be obtained when solarizing from late May through September. Leave the soil covered for 4 to 6 weeks.
For our complete list of May Gardening Tips, click on: http://www.mastergardeners.org/tips/may.html
Fertilize citrus with nitrogen. A one year old tree needs about 1/10 of a pound while a 5 year old tree will need 1 to 1½ pounds. It’s best to divide feedings into 3 applications during April, June and August. Be sure to water well.
Citrus leaf drop is normal. Some varieties can lose 1,000’s of leaves per day during peak leaf drop. Excessive drop can be caused by a lack of water. Another cause might be an infestation of spider mites which will show up as brown spots on the leaves. Treat it by washing them off with a strong blast of water from the hose.
Tomato seedlings should be planted after the soil temperature reaches 65°F (and nighttime temperatures stay above 55°F). Some kitchen thermometers will measure temperatures in this range. Tomatoes can be planted vertically into the ground, but make sure to plant deeply – up to the top few leaves (remove all leaves that will be underground). Or, dig a trench, lay the plant horizontally with all but a few upper leaves buried (again remove all leaves that will be underground). Both methods provide for stronger plants by increasing the root system.
Poison Oak is a California native plant that provides shelter and food for many native birds and wildlife. However, approximately ¾ of our population have an allergic reaction to the oils in the plant. Plant removal should be done by folks who are allergy-resistant, who can dig up the plant and/or apply herbicides. Caution: poison oak should never be burned; the fumes can be highly toxic.
Codling Moths can cause a great deal of damage to apples, pears, plums and walnuts by penetrating the fruit and boring into the core. On apples, look for brown colored holes. If trees have low to moderate infestation, you can try non chemical control such as sanitation, mass trapping, trunk banding or fruit bagging. With heavy infestation, you may have to resort to chemical control using insecticides such as Spinosad or Carbaryl.
Powdery mildew is a common problem on many roses, dahlias, chrysanthemums, peas and squash. It produces a white powdery appearance on leaves. Some roses are so susceptible that is may be easier to remove the plant entirely and pick a disease resistant variety. A homemade spray of baking soda, water and salad oil can be an effective, non-toxic treatment.
Syrphid flies are beneficial insects that do a great job of devouring aphids. In the adult form, they look like a fly with the yellow and black striping of a honey bee. In the larval stage, they are a green slug-like worm with a white ½ long strip down the back.
For our complete list of April Gardening Tips, click on: http://www.mastergardeners.org/tips/april.html
Starting your own seeds gives you the flexibility to choose the varieties of vegetable and herbs you would like to grow, in comparison to what’s available at your local nursery. You can directly sow peas, corn, beans and squash into the garden. It is best to start tomatoes, eggplants and peppers indoors and then transplant seedlings when they are developed and sturdy. Check out the information provided on the seed pack for recommended timing and conditions.
Control weeds now while they are small and before they have gone to seed. It’s also easier to remove the entire root by hoeing or hand pulling while the soil is moist.
Control Slugs & Snail by removing their hiding places (damp leaf piles, under boards, dense plants that touch the ground). Hand pick them early in the day or late in the evening. You can squish them in place, drop them in soapy water, or throw them in the trash. You can provide them a “one way” watering hole by filling small containers with beer, or apply an iron phosphate product. Baits that contain metaldehyde are unsafe for children and pets.
Apply fixed copper spray to apples, pears and loquats if fireblight has been a problem in the past.
Control Aphids by removing them from infected trees and shrubs with a strong water blast from the hose. Ladybird beetles (ladybugs) do an excellent job of controlling aphid populations. Plant white alyssum to invite ladybugs into your garden.
Apply dormant spray to deciduous trees and shrubs to control aphids, scale or whiteflies.
Apply tri-basic copper sulfate or lime sulfur to your peach trees if they have been affected by peach leaf curl.
Clean up fallen leaves and debris, and add them to your compost pile if they are not diseased.
For our complete list of March’s Gardening Tips, click on: