GARDENER COLUMN: Enjoy July’s blooms while scouting for pests – WiscNews

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GARDENER COLUMN: Enjoy July’s blooms while scouting for pests

Different types of daylilies.

JEANNIE MANIS/Contributed

Jeannie ManisSauk County Master Gardeners Association president
“A lily or a rose never pretends, and its beauty is that it is what it is.”—Jiddu KrishnamurtiThis past week has been a busy one for my gardens. My daylilies have started to bloom, and it looks like it going to be a spectacular display this year. They started a little earlier this year, so I’m hoping there will still be plenty of blooms for my daughter’s bridal shower being held in our garden at the end of the month. After they are done blooming, the daylilies can be cut back and divided if needed. If you still have perennial seeds you want to plant, finish up by the end of July. I want to accomplish quite a bit more in my garden before the end of the month, but we will see – sometimes I run out of time.I had my first sighting of Japanese beetles on my roses and my kale. They always love my roses and tend to show up there first. This makes it a little easier for me to find the scouts if I deadhead regularly. The beetles also tend to like plants with red colored foliage such as our cannas, smoke tree and ninebark shrubs. They also really like our basswoods. Raspberries and grapes are quite susceptible as well. My floribunda roses have already had their first blooms so there are not many roses for them to munch on at this time. It’s best to take a multi-part approach to control beetles. Go out in your gardens in the cool of the morning with a cup of coffee and a bucket of soapy water and a spray bottle with neem oil mixed in it. While you are walking and enjoying coffee in your gardens, you can also look for those pesky beetles. Handpick the beetles, drop them in the bucket of soapy water, and then spray neem oil, an organic insecticide, on the affected plants. I purchase the concentrate and mix it up in a spray bottle, read the directions for the right concentrate-to-water ratio. To prevent future generations of Japanese beetles, you can apply Milky spore, the bacterium Paenibacillus papillae, in late summer/early fall. The soil should between 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit when the grubs are actively feeding. Apply right before it rains or water it lightly, so it soaks into the ground. Milky spore is safe for humans, animals, and plants. I don’t recommend using the traps; they are designed to draw in the beetles and if you have a small yard, you’re asking for more trouble.We have a mole problem in our lawn, but I tend to tolerate them, as I know they eat Japanese beetle larvae. I typically just stomp down their tunnels instead of using traps and other means of removal. Our granddaughter has a different technique. Recently when she was mowing our lawn, she noticed the ground was being actively disturbed – it was a mole. She dug it out, pick it up by its’ tail, and released him in the woods. She says her gardening services also include humane pest removal.I haven’t discovered Japanese beetles on our patch of wild blackcap raspberries yet. I’m hoping to pick enough to make my husband a cobbler. They are just starting to ripen, so maybe the beetles are simply waiting to eat them before we can.If you have a vegetable garden, check it daily. I’m still picking peas and watching for various insect pests. That’s how I discovered the Japanese beetles on my kale – I didn’t even know they liked kale. If you started any broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower seeds for a fall crop, transplant them into the garden. You can also plant Swiss chard. Keep an eye on your tomatoes—water regularly and deeply to help prevent blossom end rot and replenish mulch to help retain moisture. Keep pruning your indeterminate varieties of tomatoes. If you prune determinate varieties—other than the leaves that touch the soil, you can reduce the harvest. Indeterminate varieties grow and put on blooms all season. They produce fruit along the stem. Examples include, Pink Brandywine, Cherokee Purple, Sun Gold and Sunrise Bumble Bee. Determinate variety reach a certain height and then stop their shoot production once flowers form on the shoot ends. Examples include, Celebrity, Patio Choice Yellow, Martino’s Roma, and Bush Early Girl. Prune out the suckers to improve airflow and reduce disease, get bigger fruit, and enjoy earlier ripening. The Sauk County Master Gardeners will be discussing how to care for your tomatoes to prevent disease and demonstrating how to prune them at 2 p.m. Friday at the Sauk County Fair FAME stage in the Commercial Building. We’re also presenting on how to attract pollinators to your garden at 2 p.m. Saturday and managing invasive garden weeds at 2 p.m. Sunday. During those presentations, we’ll have our new book on sale, “Sauk County Gardener.” It’s a compilation of 16 plus years’ worth of articles written by Phyllis Both, former Horticulture Extension educator for Sauk County and the original columnist of the Sauk County Gardener. I hope you stop by to watch our demonstrations and learn about the Sauk County Master Gardener’s Association.For more information or gardening questions, the University of Wisconsin Madison Division of Extension Sauk County office at 608-355-3250 or email [email protected]

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