Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Pest Management for the Home and Garden

What is IPM - Integrated Pest Management ? 

Most times the idea of a pest is a bug that is not wanted -  the ants that invade our kitchens, or the flies that speckle the windows. However, the broad meaning of pest can include, insects, weeds, and diseases.
Integrated Pest Management is the application of the decisions we make to determine the steps we will take to insure the pests are less intrusive. The options are Prevention, Suppression, and Eradication.
Varying degrees of intrusion can indeed be problematic, but some pests are just doing what pests do, -eat, procreate, and die.


Pest Management can be classified into four categories – 1) biological controls, 2) chemical controls, 3) cultural controls, and 4) legal controls.  Chemical pesticides are not my remedy of choice, so my focus will feature biological and cultural control methods.

The Biological Controls methods are divided into three approaches, - 1) classical, 2) augmentation, and 3) natural.  Classical biological approach is to find and use a natural enemy of the pest.  If a pest has been imported, either on purpose or accidentally to an area, the idea is to go to the area of origin and find out what kept the pest in check.

 Augmentation methods are to release large quantities of natural enemies.
images (2) images (3)These cocoons are praying mantis.
Since these insects are mobile, the release in your garden does not guarantee they will stay to chow down your pests.

Other biological controls are available in the marketplace and are natural.   Bt (Bacillus theringiensis) is a toxin to many caterpillars.  The solution is sprayed on foliage and kills the eating caterpillars within a few days. This Bt is effective on bag worms found on evergreens.
images (6) images (5)

Milky Spore is another bacteria that is put into lawns.  Larvae of Japanese Beetles, the white grub, consume this substance when they are eating roots of turf.
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Cultural Controls for pest are available, but the success of them takes some planning.
1)  Use plants that have a natural pest resistance.  Native plants have overcome many of the diseases and insects in the area.  This survival has inbred this immunity into many wonderful plants that pests just don’t like.
2)  Choose plants appropriate to your hardiness zone.  This past year the hardiness maps have been redrawn, and many of our areas have changed. images (8) Plant hardiness insures less stress from unfamiliar temperatures. Less stress, the better able for your plant to withstand insect and disease damage.

3) Plant in the right place. Consider shade, soil fertility, pH, and drainage before you choose a plant.  Again, the less stress the healthier your garden.

4) Choose healthy plants from the garden center.   Check the soil in the container.  Is it loose, moist?  Gently pull root ball from container – are the roots full and white, or are they dry and brown?  Do the leaves have insect holes, or are the leaves dry, brittle, or yellow?  Only take home good quality plants.  If you buy from a catalog, apply the same standards and send poor looking plants back.

bad_roots Roots are white, but need to be loosened, gently before planting.

These tomato leaves are suffering. They are curled and pale.  Leave this plant at the garden center.
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Integrated Pest Management or IPM decisions are not difficult if you know your garden and plan for the fact that pests are out there.  How radical of a response you give the pests can depend on several things.  1) Can I live with this?  2) Can the plant live with this?  And 3) is the remedy worse than the problem?

What boundaries have you placed on pests in your garden?

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Witch Hazel – Blooming in the Winter Garden

Fantastic Winter Blossoms - Witch Hazel and More

100_0154 100_0157 The Winter Aconites at Wegerzyn Gardens, a Five Rivers Metro Park in Dayton.  The Eranthis hyemalis  blooms beneath the deciduous canopy where the sun reaches the ground.  Winter Aconite creates a golden carpet, and has even been know to bloom above a snow cover. 

The forty different Witch Hazel, a feature at this park, are beautiful.

100_0161 Witch Hazel, Hamamelidaceae,  is a deciduous shrub, or small tree which grows to about 15 feet tall.  

Winter Garden Colors - Garden Ideas for Your Yard


The Witch Hazel blossoms are not only colorful, but fragrant, as well.
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Dozens of hellebores were not to be outdone. Their leaves are semi-evergreen, and the blooms are some of the earliest in the garden.


Blooms  AND a 47 degree day in February, AND a clear blue sky.
Thanks for strolling along with me today.  c

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Six Invasive Plants We Should Never Take Home

Garden Centers Are Selling These Invasive Plants

Periodically, I receive alerts from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. The topics vary from the Emerald Ash Borer, to regional speakers who may be in my area.  But, the Invasive Plant alerts have had some startling information (at least to me) and so I wish to relay some of the plants that have become a problem.
First let me say that in my gardening history, I have paid good money on each of these plants. Little did I know that they would become a problem.

  Invasive plants become Invasive plants for several reasons. 
1)  They grow rapidly.  (That was one of the reasons I bought it. )
2)   They produce lots of seeds.
3)  They have no natural controls like diseases, or insects to inhibit their growth. 
4)  They grow well in a variety of conditions – soil – wet or day – shade or sun - ( Again, one of the reasons I bought these guys!)

So why are these attributes bad?  Let’s look at them.

berberis  barberry This Japanese  Barberry – Burberis vulgaris Japanese barberry I bought this (and still have it in my yard) because I like the burgundy leaf. I placed in with gold or light green evergreens as a nice color combination.  But look at the woods above.  This infiltration into woodlands is caused by this -  lots of berries – lots of seeds.
Japanese barberry with fruit Birds are actively spreading these berries and the plants are becoming invaders.
Another plant I have purchased is the Burning Bush – Euonymus alatus.  Again, it grows fast, and has great fall color – What’s not to like?

burning bush with fruit
burning bush invasivie As these plants spread, they choke out native shrubs, wildflowers, and understory trees.  Many wildlife creatures rely on the natives for food, and when their food become scarce, so do they.

calery pear The Calery Pear is really one I was so proud to plant in my yard.  It’s snowy blossoms in spring were breath-taking.

callery pear along roadside I regretfully take blame for this scene along many of our highways.  No matter which cultivar you see in the garden centers, they all have the potential to spread seed when pollinated by neighboring Calery Pears.  The ‘new’ variety along the hillsides are not intimidated and are truly invasive.

ohio%20dnap,%20purple%20loosestrife purple loostrife invades waterways Purple Loosestrife- Lythrum salicaria -  has been in my garden since the mid-seventies.  But because of the high seed counts, Purple Loosestrife is getting into ditches, and waterways.  Control of this plant is costly and time consuming. Just pulling it out does not seem to stop this and the damage to our wetlands is extensive.  Again natives that support the environment, are being squeezed out and effecting the eco-system of these areas.

priviet with blossoms privet with fruit Privet Hedge – Ligustrum - (my bad, again!) framed the front yard of many homes as I grew up.  This fence did not create a ‘good neighbor’ for our communities. 
Chinese privet Here is Chinese Privet in the woods.

This last invasive plant is really hard for me to come to grips with.  I have several, and the pollinators love it.  But this is just another example of how some plants were introduced into the landscape and have since become a problem.butterfly bush butterfly bush exscapee The Buddleia, or Butterfly Bush, has been so popular in the market place the past years that they quickly have shown us the down-side of them. They grow fast and spread easily.  If you are not willing to dead-head (remove) all spent blossoms, I suggest you leave this plant at the garden center, too.
Invasion of the plants I have mentioned today is affecting the bio-diversity of the natural woods, prairies, and wetlands in our communities.  Becoming aware of them is a good first step to controlling the problems they present. 
Controls using biological, mechanical , or chemical methods are costly to communities.  Volunteers are a key to management of these invasive plants.

Check with your local extension office, weed management office in your county, nature centers, and garden clubs to see what steps are in place to control invasives and where you can get involved.
Thanks for stopping by today.  c

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Miniature Gardens - Tabletop and Landscape

Winter is rearing its cold, snowy head today.  But we gardeners have our ways to garden regardless of the weather.
Local garden centers and garden clubs have workshops planned in the coming weeks to build terrariums and  dish gardens. So I thought we could take a look at this type of garden.   This muffin tin of baby's tears, a moss type creeper, is quite easy to grow if kept moist. Place on the kitchen counter under a florescent light and enjoy.

herbs on the windowsill is another small garden we can ease into the home. We can get our fresh herbs as well as our gardening 'fix'.  Parsley, basil, thyme, rosemary all at our fingertips.

Now who doesn't have room for this little guy?  Sempervivum , or a succulent known as Hens and Chicks, is so cute.

Now just imagine our little fairy friends come to visit.  Make a welcoming sitting area for them and surround them with mini-thymes. All of these dollhouse accessories can be found at the craft store or I've seen fairy garden sites on the web if you are searching for something a little different.

 Terrariums are a garden in a glass container.  These small plants can be inserted into potting soil with a base of charcoal and sand to filter the moisture and keep the plant material fresh. The houseplant section of the hardware store has a variety of plants that will do well in low light and a moist environment.

Cacti or succulents sitting in a sand base have a nice contemporary style. And with this one, keep the moisture to a minimum.

Fairy gardens can be incorporated in the outdoors too.  Using miniature herbs miniature herbslike thyme, or even mini hostas can make the setting charming.  Rocks offer an added dimension  to replicate caves where the fairies would live in the forest.  Dwarf conifers would also be appropriate in a mini-forest. This mini-hinoki is just one example.

Here the gardener has created paths and walkways with small gravel and pebbles. And, don't forget the door to enter the world of the fairy.

Succulents make a great dish garden.  The arid terrain can be copied with sandy potting mix, gravel, and the dry environment will need little water.  Succulents come in many colors, so you won't miss the blossoms - but wait!  They do bloom - too cool!

Here is that muffin tin, again. 

Conifers make a great small garden.  Evergreens make this one a year round event. I would suggest picking plants that will sit out year round, to be hardy to one zone colder than your area.  The above ground roots that are exposed to the winds will withstand the cold better.

Mini hosta make a great dish garden.  They come in shades of gold, green, blue, variegated and, in a container, they are not on the slugs radar.  A fresh little garden I enjoy.

Well, I hope you have time to create a mini-garden.  Whether it is a fairy garden, a succulent garden, a terrarium, or a tiny corner of your landscape,..... we can always smile and say the 'size' does matter.