I stopped in to visit some friends recently, and they were trying to catch what they called "a weird-looking bug" to feed to a frog in their pond. They caught it, but before they fed it to the frog, they asked me if I knew what it was. It was a Wheel Bug. A beneficial predator that eats many bad bugs, including Spotted Lanternfly. They decided to let go. This reminded me of what I call my "Van Helsing principle." It is based on a scene in the movie Van Helsing starring Hugh Jackman, where the hero is a monster hunter and, upon entering a new village states that he only needs to know two things: "What is it and how do I kill it?" Notice the first thing is WHAT IS IT?
You should always ID before you spray, treat, or otherwise attempt to eliminate something.
I always try to identify new caterpillars, insects, weeds, etc. when I come across them. Once you start learning about beneficial insects, pollinators, and edible weeds, you'll want to know if they are "good" or not, too!
There are some events coming up but always verify before attending due to COVID.
Saturday, October 3, 2020 - FREE
A Path Less Taken: The Art of Labyrinth Walking
Hosted by Carriage House Landscape Design
Saturday, October 3, 2020, 10:00 am to noon
The Labyrinth at Pierce Memorial Garden,
Chrin Community Center Park,
4100 Green Pond Rd, Palmer, PA 18045
Have you ever wondered about labyrinths? A labyrinth is a spiritual tool for meditation or prayer with a single path winding into the center and out again. There is no "religious dogma" associated with the labyrinth. Whether used for meditation, prayer, or quiet moments, the circular nature of the labyrinth reminds us that life is a constant journey, rather than a destination.
Please join us to discover the history of labyrinths and how to use this ancient tool in modern times. Led by Marianne Michaels, www.mariannemichaels.com. This event is free, but registration is encouraged. Please call (484) 483-3495, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or register on Facebook. See you there!
September 24 to November 19, 2020
Landscape Design Essentials
Northampton Community College
I will be teaching landscape design certificate courses again this fall Thursday evenings beginning September 24th at Northampton Community College. For more information or to register, click this link. LNDSC100 - Landscape Design Essentials
The Black Dot
One day, a professor entered his classroom and asked his students to prepare for a surprise test. They all waited anxiously at their desks for the exam to begin.
The professor handed out the exams with the text facing down, as usual. Once he handed them all out, he asked the students to turn over the papers.
To everyone's surprise, there were no questions-just a black dot in the center of the paper. The professor, seeing the expression on everyone's faces, told them the following: "I want you to write about what you see there." The students, confused, got started on the inexplicable task.
At the end of the class, the professor took all the exams, and started reading each one of them out loud in front of all the students.
All of them, with no exception, defined the black dot, trying to explain its position in the center of the sheet. After all had been read, the classroom silent, the professor started to explain:
"I'm not going to grade you on this, I just wanted to give you something to think about. No one wrote about the white part of the paper. Everyone focused on the black dot - and the same thing happens in our lives. However, we insist on focusing only on the black dot - the health issues that bother us, the lack of money, the complicated relationship with a family member, the disappointment with a friend. The dark spots are very small when compared to everything we have in our lives, but they are the ones that pollute our minds. Take your the eyes away from the black dots in your lives. Enjoy each one of your blessings, each moment that life gives you. Be happy and live a life filled with love!"
September In Your Garden
- Now is a good tine to plan on what spring bulbs you would like to add to your garden. Many catalogs are arriving in the mail and bulbs are available at retailers. September and October are great for planting (or relocating) bulbs after the soil has cooled. Don't forget to save a few bulbs to force indoors in late winter!
- Autumn is a good time to add manure, compost or leaf mold to garden soils for increasing organic matter content.
- Monitor plants for spider mite activity. Reduce their numbers by hosing off with a forceful spray of water.
- Seasonal loss of inner needles on conifers is normal at this time. It may be especially noticeable on pines.
- Begin gathering indoor containers, drips tray, potting soil, and anything else needed to bring in your houseplants for the winter. On average our first frost is late September.
- Thanksgiving (or Christmas) cactus can be forced into bloom for the Thanksgiving holiday. Provide 15 hours of complete darkness each day, for instance, from 5 p.m. to 8 a.m., for approximately eight weeks. Keep temperature at about 60 to 65 F. Temperatures of 55 F will cause flower buds to set without dark treatment.
- If you have younger, newly planted trees and shrubs, now is the time to wrap them or give them some protection from deer rubbing.
- Pick apples as soon as they are ready.
- Blackcurrants planted the previous fall or early in the year will have developed young shoots from their bases. Cut out at soil-level the weakest of these. Shoots that are left will produce fruit during the following year.
- In dry seasons it is necessary to water soft-fruit bushes and plants, especially newly planted strawberries. Insure that the soil is thoroughly soaked, not just the surface lightly moistened.
- Continue to pick apples, as soon as their stalks part easily from the fruiting sprurs. Each stalk must remain attached to its fruit. Also, pick pears as soon as their stalks readily part from the spurs.
- Pick pears before they are fully mature. Store in a cool, dark basement to ripen.
- Cut out at soil-level raspberry canes that bore fruit earlier in the year. Space out the young canes, and tie them to their supports.
- Continue planting evergreens now. Continue to water until the ground freezes.
- Trim peony foliage now to reduce inoculum load of Cladosporium and powdery mildew fungi for next year.
- Begin readying houseplants for winter indoors. Prune back rampant growth and protruding roots. Check for pests and treat if necessary. Houseplants should be brought indoors at least one month before the heat is normally turned on.
- Except tulips, spring bulbs may be planted as soon as they are available. Tulips should be kept in a cool, dark place and planted in late October.
- Cuttings of annuals can be taken now to provide vigorous plants for overwintering.
- Herbs such as parsley, rosemary, chives, thyme and marjoram can be dug from the garden and placed in pots now for growing indoors this winter. Be sure to have a sunny location and a large enough container.
- Cool-season lawns are best fertilized in fall. Make up to 3 applications between now and December. Do not exceed rates recommended by fertilizer manufacturer.
- If soils become dry, established lawns should be watered thoroughly to a depth of 4-6 inches.
- Begin fall seeding or sodding of cool-season grasses. Seedbeds should be raked, dethatched or core-aerified, fertilized and seeded. Keep newly planted lawn areas moist, but not wet.
- Lawns scheduled for renovation this fall should be killed with Roundup now. Have soil tested to determine fertility needs.
- Dormant lawns should be soaked now to encourage strong fall growth.
- Verify control of lawn white grubs from earlier insecticide applications.
- Lawns may be topdressed with compost or milorganite now. This is best done after aerifying.
- Trim off the largest leaves from parsley to encourage the growth of fresh ones.
- Pick fava beans before the pods become tough. Also, harvest garden peas while young and tender.
- Pinch the growing tips of gourds once adequate fruit set is achieved. This directs energy into ripening fruits, rather than vine production.
- Harvest kohlrabi when the size of tennis balls.
- Harvest runner beans while they are young and tender. If left, they become tough and stringy.
- Egyptian (top-setting) onions can be divided and replanted now.
- Sowing seeds of radish, lettuce, spinach and other greens in a cold frame will prolong fall harvests.
- Plant spring cabbages 10-12 inches apart in rows 12 inches apart. A few weeks later, draw a little soil around their base to give protection from frost.
- As soon as crops are harvested, remove the debris so that the soil's surface is bare. Waste left on the soil encourages pest and diseases to linger and spread. Waste know to be contaminated with pest or diseases should be burned.
- Pinch out the top of Brussels sprout plants to plump out the developing sprouts.
- Harvest herbs now to freeze or dry for winter use.
- Tie leaves around cauliflower heads when they are about the size of a golf ball.
- Keep broccoli picked regularly to encourage additional production of side shoots.
BOLO - Pests and Problems
- Keep a watchful eye for Spotted Lanternfly egg masses and destroy any you find. There is one generation of SLF per year. The eggs are laid in the fall and hatch in the spring. Egg masses are laid on hard surfaces (trees, decks, houses, outdoor equipment, rocks, etc.) and protected with a mud-like covering. Each egg mass contains 30-50 eggs. Egg masses are live and viable from about October through July. You can scrape them off of trees or smooth surfaces with a putty knife, old credit card-anything can be used to squish them. Bottom line with SLF: Kill them if you can. Use recommended practices. Don't move them around.
- Now is the time to reseed dead areas in your cool-season lawn, such as fescue and bluegrass. These areas should be reseeded between September 1 and mid-October. If this also involves killing any existing grass, kill these areas with an herbicide at least 2 weeks before planting seed. Stop fertilizing, dethatching, and core aerifying of warm-season grasses now. Resume again after green-up in late spring next year.
- Monitor and treat for grubs in lawns if required. Treating is only necessary if 10 or more grubs are found in a one square foot area when grass is actively growing. If this threshold is met, treat with fast acting trichlorfon (Dylox) now. Treatment with imidacloprid (Merit) or halofenozide (Mach 2) should have been made in July as they take longer to act.
- Scorch is a common problem in hot, dry weather. Be sure and keep plants well watered during periods of drought. Stressed plants are more susceptible to attack by insects and disease. Many plants may also exhibit wilting leaves or yellowing foliage due to lack of adequate water. Water during dry spells.
- Galls are common on many plants throughout the season. Generally galls on leaves are just cosmetic and do little damage. Horned and gouty oak gall affects twigs and, although usually not a serious threat to the health of the tree, can be unsightly. Unfortunately, little can be done to control them. An arborist can remove them, but there is no guarantee that they will not recur. In mid- to late summer fall webworms may also be seen.
- To force poinsettias into bloom for Christmas they should be moved indoors by the 3rd week in September to a sunny windowsill. Each night, they must be kept in a cool, dark place where there is no light for 14 hours. Continue until proper color is achieved. This may take 6-10 weeks or longer. Water and fertilize on a regular schedule.
- Check your lawn for sod webworms now.
- Mushrooms and puffballs are commonly found in lawns at this time of year. Most are the fruiting bodies of useful fungi that decompose organic matter in the soil or exist in a beneficial relationship with the living roots of nearby trees. They cause minimal harm to grass. No chemicals are currently registered for control. Physically remove them and treat as yard waste.
- White pines normally shed old needles in the fall, usually beginning mid to late September. The yellowing and dropping of these interior needles is normal and should not cause concern.
- Powdery mildew may appear as a white coating on the leaves of lilacs, dogwoods, and other plants as temperatures cool in autumn. Damage to leaves this late in the season is purely aesthetic and is not harmful. No treatment is required.
- Moles may cause damage to lawns as they feed on earthworms, grubs and other soil inhabitants.
- Keep your eyes open for magnolia scale. Unlike most other species of scale, crawlers of the magnolia scale are present and active now. This is the ideal time for controlling the most vulnerable stage of this troublesome pest.
- Unlike many spider mites that are most active in hot, dry weather the spruce spider mite proliferates in the cool temperatures of spring and fall. They can cause substantial damage to spruce, hemlocks, and junipers. Examine yellowing needles on spruce now for these mites. Treat if necessary. Controls are the same as for other spider mites. Also check for whitefly, which can become numerous at this time of year.
- Rose rosette can appear at any time of year but frequently shows up on new fall growth. If witches'-brooms are found on rose bushes at this time of year, suspect rose rosette.
- Purplish-brown needles on blue and other spruces at this time of year is often caused by Rhizosphaera needlecast disease. Infection occurs in May and June long before symptoms appear. Fungicides are available for control but must be applied in spring before infection occurs.
- Both box elder and red-shouldered bugs are commonly seen in large masses on tree trunks and the siding of buildings at this time of year. They do little damage to trees but will feed on the seeds. Homeowners may find them objectionable especially when they migrate indoors.
- Be alert to the flight of peachtree borer adults that are active from July through September.
- August and September are the best times to implement controls for carpenter bees.
- Asian multicolored lady beetles may also be found at this time of year. For home gardeners they are beneficial but a nuisance. Control out of doors is not recommended, but insects found indoors can be vacuumed and disposed of.
Need help diagnosing plant problems, deciding treatments, or identifying plants? Call me - I'll be happy to help! Lori (484) 483-3495