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Your USDA Hardiness Zone

Featured Articles!

Building a Scarier Scarecrow

If you have a garden, it’s more than likely that you also have a pest or three. It should be no surprise that pests and critters like our yards and gardens as much, or more, than we do. We are encouraged to invite wildlife into our yards and gardens because we love seeing them, and, in theory, they help balance our desire for our garden and nature to coexist. But what happens when they go rogue and start eating, digging and destroying all of our hard work?

Scaring them away, or we could say gently discouraging, wild and sometimes not-so-wild critters to “Step away from the garden,” is always a first and sometimes successful option.

>> read “Building a Scarier Scarecrow”       #Decorating   #Fall   #Pests
Gardening is for the Birds

Patience is a virtue, especially in the gardening world. I learned this lesson in a profound way one season while on a morning walk through the garden. As I scouted for disease and pests and checked the ripeness of various fruits and vegetables, I discovered my lush and heavily laden tomato plants nearly covered in aphids. Or so it seemed. Never in all my years had I been the victim of such a harsh attack by these horrid creatures. I’m sad to say that my initial response, despite being an organic grower, was to think I needed some chemical to treat the infestation. Fortunately for my garden, my more rational side suggested I wait patiently to see which of my garden helpers would come to the rescue. And as always, I was not disappointed.

>> read “Gardening is for the Birds”       #Birds   #Pests   #Wildlife
Midsummer Checkup

Tall, multicolored ‘Granny’s Bouquet’ zinnias flourish in the sunny border. We’ve been clipping them regularly for the table, which encourages new flowering. Heritage garden roses are into their second or third flush. Landscape roses continue strong and brighter than ever. Grape, patio and large luscious tomatoes are at peak production. Yellow and green summer squash are so prolific that neighbors walk the other way when they see you carrying yet another vegetable.

July and August also can bring out the worst in marginally healthy plants. Plants are a collection of living cells, just like us. We’re more susceptible to going downhill fast when stressed, underfed, dehydrated, injured, too hot or too cold.

>> read “Midsummer Checkup”       #Advice   #Pests   #Summer
Natural Repellant

It’s summer, and that means war … on mosquitos! In 2014 Bill Gates called the mosquito “The Deadliest Animal in the World.” They carry a host of debilitating and often fatal diseases. Yes, we can douse ourselves with chemicals, light some incense, or plug in the bug zapper … but rumor has it that plants can also keep mosquitos at bay. The essential oils in some plants and flowers have been said to repel mosquitos, while you should not rely on plants alone to protect you from mosquito bites, you may want to include a few in your landscape or garden.

>> read “Natural Repellant”       #Beneficials   #Insects   #Pests
Squish the Squash Bug

The squash bug is common throughout the United States, and it is one of those creatures that truly has a logical name. The Anasa tristis is a true bug, and you surely want to “squash” it when seen.

>> read “Squish the Squash Bug”       #Insects   #Pests   #Vegetables
What? Me Worry?
Symptoms that aren't as serious as they look

As an arborist, I work with a lot of people who care deeply about their trees and shrubs. Almost once a week, I will get a call from someone who is alarmed that something new they’ve noticed on their tree might be a major problem. Sometimes it is a problem that needs help, but often it is something that looks bad, but isn’t. Here are some of the common issues that arise.

>> read “What? Me Worry?”       #Disease   #Pests   #Trees
Control Caterpillar Pests

Caterpillars are vexing pests to many of the plants we grow in our home landscapes and vegetable gardens. There are numerous different species of pest caterpillars, most of which specialize in feeding on a particular group of plants: azalea caterpillars sometimes defoliate whole plantings of azaleas; heavy infestations of bagworms destroy arborvitae trees; tobacco hornworms strip the leaves from homegrown tomatoes; squash borers kill squash and pumpkin vines. And the list goes on.

>> read “Control Caterpillar Pests”       #Advice   #Insects   #Pests
Where Are They Now?

People don’t often think about insects in winter. Frankly, most people don’t think about insects at all except when they are being tormented by mosquitoes in the summer. As gardeners, we tend to consider insects and the natural world more frequently than other people, but what happens to the pests that drive us crazy and the other bugs that fascinate us during warmer months?

>> read “Where Are They Now?”       #Insects   #Pests   #Winter
Stop the Vampires!
Gardening Practices to keep mosquitoes down in your yard

Besides ruining a day in the yard, certain mosquitoes can transmit West Nile and other diseases in their quest for the blood needed to produce eggs. In fall, mosquitoes mate and the males die. The females spend the cold months hidden in protected places, such as hollow logs and in the cracks of buildings. So it is a good practice to clean up debris and caulk buildings in fall.

>> read “Stop the Vampires!”       #Beneficials   #Health and Safety   #Insects   #Pests
Douse the Flames
Yes, you can control fire ants.

Fire ants. Just hearing the words will make most Southern gardeners anxiously check their shoes and the ground where they are standing. These non-native stinging ants are established in portions of 12 southeastern states, and six of these states – Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida and South Carolina – have fire ants from border to border.

Fire ants prefer treeless grassy areas such as pastures, roadsides, parks and lawns, and densities can reach 50 to 200 mounds per acre in areas where they are not controlled. Fire ant mounds are unsightly, but it is their stings that make them so notorious. Unlike honeybees, fire ants do not have barbs on their stingers, and this means they can sting more than once. A single fire ant sting is painful, but unsuspecting gardeners sometimes sustain dozens or even hundreds of stings as a result of unknowingly stepping in a fire ant mound. The raised white pustules that result usually persist for about a week.

>> read “Douse the Flames”       #Advice   #Insects   #Pests
First Aid for Summer Squash

As we enter mid-July with August right around the corner, there are some pretty rough-looking summer squash patches that I have visited around the state in my role as a vegetable specialist. From backyard gardens to commercial growers, everyone that has grown summer squash knows the challenges that the late season can dish out ...

>> read “First Aid for Summer Squash”       #Advice   #Disease   #Pests
The Perils of Beneficial Insects

So you think that beneficial insects are the answer to all your pest problems? Then gather 'round, my children, and hear the twisted tale of "The Praying Mantises that Almost Took Over Evansville ..."

>> read “The Perils of Beneficial Insects”       #Humor   #Insects   #Pests
 
 
 

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