Press-Republican

Columns

June 25, 2012

Gardening a tenacious endeavor

This month I want to commiserate with you. We all love to garden, right? 

Whether we grow vegetables, fruits, perennials, annuals, containers or fields full of stuff, we do it because we love it. From experience, I would say that we love gardening more in May and early June — when we are planning, planting and have high expectations for the success of our efforts — than we do in July and August, when it may be too hot, humid and uncomfortable to be outside working hard. 

Early in the season, it is a joy to see the progress our seeds or plants are making. The air is cool, the rain frequent, and we feel a sense of satisfaction that we are growing something worthy of our efforts. Come July and August, it’s a joy to go outside until we see the pests eating our plants, the weeds growing faster than we thought possible, and we feel we are fighting a battle to grow anything at all.

This week, you will probably see beetles, sometimes in large numbers. The Japanese beetles are hatching, the May beetles have appeared, and rose chafers have already been brought into our office for identification. Frequently, you won’t see the insects, just the damage: leaves that are skeletonizied, curled or discolored or that have holes chewed in them.  

We have also seen Septoria leaf spot on tomatoes. Fortunately, Septoria and early blight are not devastating to tomato plants and are quite common. They are not the same as late blight —something all tomato and potato growers dread — and treatment is not the same. If you are seeing damage to your tomato plants, bring us a sample for identification before you treat them.

Powdery mildew is putting in an appearance on some of the ornamental and vegetable plants now. The hot, humid weather we have experienced is perfect for mildew. You may also be seeing lots of caterpillars, including the gypsy moth caterpillar.

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