Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Backyard Pest

Its that time again! Who doesn’t hate the Japanese beetle and the destruction it leaves in its path? The adult Japanese beetle is a little less than 1/2 inch long and has a shiny, metallic-green body with bronze colored outer wings. Both as adults and as grubs (the larval stage), Japanese
beetles are destructive plant pests. Adults feed on the foliage and fruits of several hundred species of fruit trees, ornamental trees, shrubs, vines, and field and vegetable crops. Adults leave behind skeletonized leaves and large, irregular holes in leaves. The grubs develop in the soil, feeding on the roots of various plants and grasses and often destroying turf in lawns, parks, golf courses, and pastures.

This highly destructive plant pest of foreign origin was first found in the US in a nursery in southern New Jersey in 1916. In its native Japan, where the beetle's natural enemies keep its populations in check, this insect is not a serious plant pest. With favorable conditions in the US the beetle infestation has grown to become a serious plant pest and a threat to American

During the feeding period, females intermittently leave plants, burrow about 3 inches into the ground—usually into turf—and lay a few eggs. This cycle is repeated
until she lays 40 to 60 eggs. By midsummer, the eggs hatch, and the young grubs
begin to feed. In late autumn, the grubs burrow 4 to 8 inches into the soil and remain inactive all winter. This insect spends about 10 months of the year in the ground in the larval stage. In early spring, the grubs return to the turf and continue to feed on roots until late spring, when they change into pupae. In about 2 weeks, the pupae become adult beetles and emerge from the ground. This life cycle takes a year.

No quick fixes can rid homeowners of the Japanese beetle once it becomes established. However, scientists with the USDA, ARS and Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) have developed an integrated pest management (IPM) program for homeowners based on field experiences. The program combines biological, cultural, and chemical strategies. It will be effective if homeowners are willing to monitor both adult and larval beetle populations closely and implement this program with neighbors and their local agricultural or horticultural organizations.

IPM attempts to manage pests, not to eradicate them, while at the same time exerting minimal impact on the environment. IPM uses biological, cultural, mechanical, and chemical controls to keep pest populations below levels that cause economic damage. Because tolerance to
the presence of insect pests varies among individuals, the choice of control methods will reflect the management objectives of the user.

Why Follow an IPM Program?
Here are a few reasons:
■ Automatically and routinely applying pesticides can be counterproductive, economically wasteful, and environmentally unsound.
■ The Japanese beetle is here to stay. Therefore, we must learn to “live with” or manage this insect pest while attempting to minimize its impacts.
■ It is not necessary to eliminate the beetle in order to protect your trees, plants, and lawn.
■ It is hard to predict when and where Japanese beetle populations will increase, and there is no guaranteed control formula to follow. Intermittent monitoring and appropriate planning are necessary for adequate management of this landscape pest.

If you battle this pest from year to year you may want to do more reading. Start with the attached links:

For more information on the beetle check this Clemson Home and Garden Link: http://entweb.clemson.edu/eiis/pdfs/to5.PDF
For more on IPM see this link : http://entweb.clemson.edu/pesticid/saftyed/PestIPM.htm

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Parsley in the Garden- many uses

The first time I planted parsley in my garden was in Florida. I did it to have on hand to feed my husband’s cockatiels. At the time we had an aviary of breeding birds and they liked to eat parsley as a source of greens. Caterpillars found it and ate more than half of my plants!

Then we moved to Georgia and no longer had the birds. This time I planted the parsley as a landscape plant in my garden. Both times I had plenty of extra to use in cooking. Then we moved again this time to South Carolina. This time I was working on a Backyard habitat for birds and butterflies and wanted to attract the black swallowtail butterfly caterpillar I planted a lot of parsley including curly, flat leaf and cilantro along with dill, fennel and Queen Anne’s lace from seed. Once again I had a lot of extra for cooking but no caterpillars this time!

Most of my plants over wintered and were really huge. One day in late spring I went to pick some parsley for cooking and discovered my plant was stripped and I saw 5 or 6 fat caterpillars. Checking my other plants I discovered caterpillars on most of my plants. Since that time I always plant extra parsely, dill and fennel just to feed the caterpillars. Once in a while I’ll see a Black Swallowtail Chrysalides, and when I’m really lucky I see a butterfly recently emerged and drying its wings before flying off to find a flower.

Butterfly Gardening: A host plant for the Black swallowtail butterfly

Landscape uses: For small gardens, parsley makes a great edging for flowerbeds and borders. When used for this purpose, it is best to sow parsley seed thickly in late October or November in twin rows close together (3 or 4 inches apart).

Kitchen uses: Parsley is perhaps one of the most commonly used herbs in the kitchen. From a culinary standpoint, parsley can be used as an ingredient or garnish for most any dish.

Parsley Root: Parsley root can be served as a boiled vegetable.

Leaves: Whether fresh or dried, parsley leaves can add a touch of flavor and color to most any dish. Minced green leaves are often mixed with other vegetables just before being served. Parsley transforms plain, boiled potatoes to a new level particularly when young, red potatoes are used.

Whether you like to cook or just attract butterflies parsley is a good choice for your garden.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Sweet Peas – For a Fragrant garden

For the 3rd year in a row I planted Sweet peas and for the first year I got some to not only grow but also bloom. This year I planted them earlier (in February) and that could have been the difference since blooming is curtailed by heat. Mine are planted on trellis right outside my screened porch and what a wonderful fragrance every time I step out the door to let the dogs in or out! These annual climbers bear clusters of flowers in a wide variety of colors including red, pink, blue, white and lavender. They will bloom late spring into summer and in cooler climates, they can bloom through fall. Sweet Peas lend a cottage feel to gardens and can be grown on bamboo tripods. They are great in a vegetable garden as they attract bees and other pollinators needed in the vegetable garden.

Sweet pea vines have tendrils and will attach themselves to most any type of support with meshing or lines. Regular deadheading or cutting for display will keep them blooming longer. Sweet peas require regular watering, especially as the temperature increases.

If you love Fragrance in your garden try sweet peas.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Water Lilies in a Water Garden

I had my first water lily bloom in our backyard pond. I enjoy our pond but it does take a certain amount of upkeep. Now that our pond is established I usually just have to worry about cleaning filters and adding water. On occasion I need to add some algaecide but the UV filter is a great help controlling algae.
A water garden opens up a new world of planting and landscaping possibilities. A pond can be a point of interest or provide a soothing sound in your garden. You can start small, with a hollowed-out stone that catches rainwater or jump right in with a half-acre pond that has water lilies, fish and a fountain.
Before building your water garden, it is best to do a little homework. Unlike regular gardening, where you can bungle your way through almost any trial and start fresh the following year, a water garden often involves a greater investment of time and money.

A natural-looking water garden should have sloped sides with planting terraces that step down toward the deepest area of the pond. Remember:

· Place in a location that receives at least 5 hours of sunlight a day.
· Avoid low spots or areas that accumulate runoff.
· Don't put the garden under large trees.
· Find a level spot.
· Provide easy access to electrical power and fresh water

My pond is fishless at the moment thanks to a snowy egret but fish are a nice addition to a pond. You don’t have to start out with expensive Koi. Our small pond of 250 gallons supports Comets with no problem. We’ve had 6 at one time and they grew to about 18”. They eat algae, tadpoles, and mosquito larva so I only supplemented their diet with pond fish food.

Pot Some Plants
Although your water garden will have a few floaters, you will need to pot up other varieties of aquatic plants before sinking them in the water container. Use sturdy plastic or terra cotta pots. Those black plastic pots that regular nursery plants come in can also be used - and they're free. Water plants must be grown in high-quality topsoil or potting soil made specifically for water gardens. Never use a commercial potting mixture. It's too light for aquatic planting.

Beauty in a barrel
You don’t have to dig a hole in your backyard to have a water garden. A barrel water garden is perfect for inexperienced gardeners or gardeners with space limitations. Start by purchasing a sturdy whiskey barrel that has been cut neatly in half, sits steadily on its base and has tight metal hoops. Scrub inside and out thoroughly, then wire-brush and repaint the hoops. Be sure to use marine grade paint if you decide to paint the barrel.
You can also buy a preformed plastic liner or PVC pond liner cut-to-fit from a gardening center or the gardening section of a home improvement store. Some ready-made barrel liners are even available with a drain near the top as an overflow in rainy weather.

Add a few fish to your water garden for extra appeal. Guppies, mollies, swordtails, mosquito fish and small gold fish are commonly available and live happily in a small container. These little fish not only add interest, they help keep plants healthy by eating aphids, mosquitoes, and other insect pests.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Garden Appreciation

As I was setting out my sprinkler this morning (not trusting the 40% chance of rain forecast) two women walking a dog stopped to tell me how much they enjoyed seeing my garden on their daily walks. Nice to know someone enjoys my garden as much as I do. But they can enjoy without all the work! Nice to know all the hours in my garden are paying off!
"It is utterly forbidden to be half-hearted about gardening. You have got to love your garden whether you like it or not. ~W.C. Sellar & R.J. Yeatman, Garden Rubbish, 1936


Saturday, May 14, 2011

Garden Makeover

The rising cost of everything has me looking for ways to save money in the garden. So this year I making more use of’ volunteer’ plants, dividing perennials, relocating plants, and pots to fill in bare areas in the garden. I also check the clearance shelf every time I visit Lowe’s home improvement stores. Today I found 4” pots of salvia, celosia, & zinnia’s for $.50 and all they needed were to be deadheaded and a little Miracle Grow to get them blooming again soon. The pots by my front door were looking a little faded so I took the old plants out, scrubbed the pots and painted them. When the paint is dry I’ll replant them with large leaf coleus, begonia and licorice (the thriller, the filler & the spiller) started from cuttings in my mini-greenhouse. Imagine what I could do with a larger greenhouse!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Now Blooming (early May)

What you’d see blooming in my yard if you came for a visit now:

Petunia, dianthus, daylily, (Easter) Lily, Roses, Hydrangea, salvia, Silver Sage, coreopsis, Rudbeckia, coneflower, Amaryllis, Iris, Flowering Tobacco, Impatiens, Sweet peas, Hostas, Magnolia, snapdragons, & Shasta Daisy.