by Mark Anderson, owner, Anderson’s Seed and Garden
Most everyone in Cache Valley jumped for joy when the rain came down in April and didn’t let up for weeks. We really needed the water, and six weeks of rain contributed to our empty reservoirs and helped build up needed ground water that had been depleted with the dry winter.
Prolonged, wet spring weather can also bring some unexpected consequences that might just plague us through the summer. Diseases and insects have all flourished in the cool temperatures and moist conditions, while many nutrients generally available in the soil (especially iron) may have leached away due to the excess water. Keep an eye out for these common problems, and you will be half way to fixing them in your own yard.
Plant diseases flourish in humid conditions, and this spring the humidity in Cache Valley was off the charts. Common problems this summer will include powdery mildew (affecting squash, cucumbers, melons and many ornamental trees and shrubs), leaf spot (tomatoes were especially damaged with bacterial spot last season) and rust.
For an organic option to control disease, try a fresh batch of compost tea. The natural microbes and microorganisms from the compost tea will break down many common diseases, consuming them before they take hold of your plants. I brew a new batch every weekend if you want to try a gallon or two.
If the volume of boxelder bugs in June are an indication of what the summer has to offer, we are in for a long parade of insects this season. Expect hordes of grasshoppers in the veggies, sticky aphids all over the maples and plums, squash bugs under every leaf of the zucchini and grubs devouring the lawn.
Rest assured, there are simple solutions to almost all of our common gardening pests. It is just a lot easier to find those solutions if you know what the problem is in the first place.” – Mark Anderson
Fortunately, there are both organic and synthetic options to help combat even the most difficult insect species. Personally, I’m not afraid to share a little of my harvest with the insects, but when they start taking more than their fair share, then I have to resort to more drastic measures.
Weeks on end of rainy weather washed away much of the available iron in our soil. Iron Chlorosis (or deficiency) shows up in the newest growth of plants first, often displaying much lighter green leaf tissue with dark green veins running through the leaf. As chlorosis progresses, the leaves turn very pale yellow and can even turn brown around the edges. Maples, burning bush, raspberries and many other plants commonly display these symptoms. To correct an iron deficiency, use a chelated iron product that has been formulated for use in soils with a high ph (all of Cache Valley has a high ph). How much to use depends on the type of plant and how chlorotic it is. Just remember, if you use the wrong kind of iron, it just won’t work, but if you use the right kind of iron (chelated), it will work every time.
A little familiarity with some of the common issues to plague Cache Valley this summer will help you combat these problems as they arise. Rest assured, there are simple solutions to almost all of our common gardening pests. It is just a lot easier to find those solutions if you know what the problem is in the first place.