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Archives for July 17, 2014

Tips to avoid summer gardening problems

Summer is a great time to work in the garden or yard to make it look as beautiful as possible. However, problems can crop up and limit a yard’s overall potential. Here are some tips from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach on ways to avoid those issues or correct them when they occur, with help from ISU Extension horticulturists. To have additional questions answered, contact the ISU Hortline at 515-294-3108 or

How can I control powdery mildew on my garden phlox?

Powdery mildew is a common disease of garden phlox (Phlox paniculata). The fungal disease produces a grayish white coating on the leaves. Infected leaves eventually turn yellow and then brown. Initial symptoms appear on the lower leaves with the disease progressing upward.

Powdery mildew is most commonly found on plants growing in shady areas and in crowded plantings with poor air circulation. 

Cultural practices can reduce the severity of powdery mildew on garden phlox. The amount of disease inoculum can be reduced by cutting off and removing diseased plant debris in fall. Plants growing in shady locations should be moved to a sunny site. 

While cultural practices are helpful, fungicides may be necessary to control powdery mildew on garden phlox. To be effective, fungicides should be applied at the first sign of the disease and repeated on a regular basis.

The best way for home gardeners to avoid powdery mildew on garden phlox is to select and plant mildew resistant cultivars. ‘Shortwood’ (rosy pink flowers), ‘David’ (white flowers), ‘Katherine’ (lavender blossoms), and ‘Robert Poore’ (reddish purple flowers) possess good resistance to powdery mildew. 

How do I control peony leaf blotch?

Typical symptoms include glossy purple to brown spots or blotches on the upper surfaces of the leaves. The disease may cause slight distortion of the leaves as they continue growth. Leaf symptoms are sometimes most apparent on the edges of older leaves. On stems, symptoms appear as long, reddish brown streaks.

Peony leaf blotch is best managed through sanitation. The fungus survives the winter in infected plant debris. Diseased plant material should be removed in fall or early spring (before new shoots emerge). Cut off the stems at ground level. Remove the plant debris from the area and destroy it. Proper spacing and watering can help to minimize the severity of the disease. Space peonies three to four feet apart. When watering is necessary, avoid wetting the peony foliage. Fungicides can be used as a supplement to sanitation and good cultural practices.

How can I control black spot on my roses?

Black spot is a common fungal disease of roses. Black spot is caused by the fungus Diplocarpon rosae. Symptoms of black spot are circular black spots on the leaves. Infected leaves turn yellow and drop prematurely. Initially, symptoms develop on the lower leaves and gradually move upward. By late summer, severely infected plants may be nearly defoliated.

The black spot fungus overwinters on fallen leaves and infected canes. Spores are splashed onto newly emerging foliage in spring. Black spot development is favored by warm, wet weather.

Careful rose selection, cultural practices, and fungicide treatments can be used to control black spot on roses. Rose cultivars differ widely in their susceptibility to black spot.

When purchasing roses, select rose cultivars that are resistant to black spot. When selecting a planting site, choose an area that receives six or more hours of direct sun each day and provides good air movement. Sunny locations and good air movement promote drying of rose foliage and discourage black spot infections. Reduce the amount of overwintering fungi by carefully cleaning up the leaf debris in fall. When watering roses, apply water directly to the ground around the plants. Do not wet the foliage. Fungicide applications must begin at the first sign of disease symptoms.

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This week’s gardening tips: cut back stressed bedding plants, raise flower … – The Times

Numerous bedding plants, such as impatiens, begonias, salvias and geraniums, may look a little stressed now. Blame the heat.

Many bedding plants (especially the tender perennials we grow as annuals) can be cut back in late July or early August. They will revive as the weather cools and provide color until November or longer.

Container plants should not be placed directly onto wooden decks. The moisture underneath can damage the wood (saucers do the same thing). Boost pots off the surface an inch or two with pieces of brick or terra-cotta pot supports (called “pot feet”) available at some local nurseries and garden shops. The pot feet may also help the drainage holes to function better and can prevent dark stains under pots on concrete.

I’m also getting numerous reports of lantana lace bugs. Often the first sign of lace bug infestation is a plant that will suddenly stop blooming; the insects attack the flower buds first.

When they move on to the foliage, their feeding causes light-colored spots in the leaves, which continues until the leaves look scorched and tan. The backside of the leaves generally have numerous small brown spots (these are fecal deposits). Although a damaged plant may look dead, it’s still alive, only the foliage is damaged. Cut the bushes back about half way and bag up and dispose the trimmings as you cut them. Then, spray the plants twice with permethrin (Bonide Eight and other brands), Malathion or Orthene (Acephate) following label directions.

As the new growth comes out it should be healthy. If you see any signs of lace bug damage, spray again. Treat anytime you see the symptoms showing up in the foliage.

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Gardening Tips: Organic Fertilizing & Pest Control

WTNH– Farm Manager Shannon Raider Ginsberg from Common Ground High School, Urban Farm, and Environmental Education Center shows us how to grow using sustainable, organic practices on Common Ground’s urban farm – and how you can learn to do the same at home.

Some people know Common Ground for their charter high school, or for their summer camps and other community educational programs. They are also an urban farm, in the City of New Haven, right at the base of West Rock.

They grow a huge variety of food on our farm  from garlic, to eggs, to tomatoes, to bok choy. The food they grow goes into our school lunches, and is used a lot in our children’s and community educational programs. They also share it through the mobile farm market that CitySeed runs in partnership with Common Ground, and at an on-site farm stand that is open every Wednesday this summer from 3 to 5:30.

Common Ground is located at 358 Springside Avenue in New Haven. For more information, go to

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Garden Tips: That bug, mildew isn’t what you think it is

I recently overheard a woman in a local store asking for a spray to kill the little green worms on her lettuce. I had to restrain myself from offering her unsolicited advice. I, too, had just found little green worms on my lettuce, but I recognized them as syrphid fly larvae.

Syrphid flies are also known as hover flies, or flower flies, because they are usually noticed when hovering over flowers. They may cause alarm because they have a black and yellow striped body, resembling a bee or wasp. However, syrphid flies are benign and do not sting or bite.

The adult flies eat flower pollen and nectar. They are also valuable pollinators. You should not be afraid when you see a syrphid fly, but any aphids present should be afraid. That is because many types of syrphid flies are predacious. These syrphid flies lay their eggs near colonies of aphids. The eggs hatch into hungry larvae that will eat hundreds of aphids in a month.

If you see a “little green worm” on a plant infested with aphids, take a close look. Syrphid fly larvae have a tapered body with no legs. They blindly move over the leaf surface searching for aphids to eat. When they find one, they use their piercing mouth to suck out its bodily fluids.

So if you find a little green worm on your lettuce or see a bee-like fly hovering around your flowers, it is likely a syrphid fly larva or adult. Syrphid flies are beneficial insects that do double duty, eating aphids and helping with pollination. Encourage them instead of buying a spray to kill them.

For more information, read about “Beneficial Insects, Spiders, and other Mini-Creatures in Your Garden — Who They Are and How to Get Them to Stay” by going to for your free downloadable copy written by Dr. David G. James, Associate Professor, WSU Department of Entomology.

— Powdery mildew

Several gardeners have come to me recently because they were worried about the silvery patches on the leaves of their zucchini plants. They wondered if it was powdery mildew, a fungus disease that is fairly common in area gardens. It first shows up as small white powdery spots on squash leaves. These spots grow larger until the fungus covers the entire leaf and stem, killing the infected tissues. It typically shows up on squash late in the growing season, about the time the plants are finished producing fruit.

Luckily, what these gardeners have encountered is the natural silvery blotchy variegation characteristic of some zucchini cultivars (varieties). It is not a problem, and the plants are healthy for now, but it is advisable to watch for signs of powdery mildew on squash, cukes and melons.

Avoid powdery mildew by doing a few simple things:

— When possible, plant cultivars that indicate they are resistant to powdery mildew.

— Don’t plant your squash or other cucurbits where they will be in the shade of other plants or structures for part of the day.

— Provide good air circulation by not crowding the plants.

— Finally, rotate your crops so cucurbits are not planted in the same location for at least two years.

For more information, go to WSU’s Hortsense website at

— Marianne C. Ophardt is a horticulturist for Washington State University Benton County Extension.

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Gardening Tips For Spring


Gardening Tips For Spring

Following these tips will take you a long way in evolving the perfect garden. So, enjoy witnessing the visual spectacle of healthy plant growth.

First up, the kind of soil that is going to nourish your plants.

If you are planning on using clayey soil, it is important that you raise your planting bed by a minimum of eight inches with rich and nourished top soil. If this isn’t possible, you must ensure that at least 2 inches of the root ball is above level of clayey soil.

Next, when planting in clayey soil, make sure you dig a hole that is deeper and wider than the root ball. Around, the plant, make sure you place organic material. Don’t pack it too tight, for it erodes the capability of the plant to optimally absorb oxygen.

Make sure the soil is well drained. During the months of spring, make sure you do this often. It aids healthy plant growth and allows you to worry less when summer approaches. This is because if the soil is well drained, the roots become porous, thereby making it easier for water to pass through.

Now here is another tip you can incorporate. Growing container plants during the months of spring are way easier. There are many plants that grow well on containers, so choose wisely. Also, make sure you remove the plant carefully when you want to shift it outside the container. Tile the container upside down and give the plant a shake, it will come off easily. Do not try pulling it outside, for it will severely damage the roots.

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Garden Tips: Quickly diagnose tomato diseases

Tomatoes are the most popular vegetable growing in most home gardens. However, tomatoes plants can easily become affected with disease.

Since the garden is fully into its growing season, you may start to see some problems affecting your tomato plants. If you are aware of some of the symptoms, you can diagnose and correct some problems before they become major. Here are some common problems you may find:

Early blight: The leaves near the bottom of the plant turn yellow and begin to die. The disease moves rapidly up the plant, weakening or killing the plant. This disease can be controlled with a fungicide. Check with your local nursery or garden center to learn the best fungicide for this disease, and read and follow label directions. Next year, rotate your tomatoes to another location in your garden.

Blossom-end rot: This is a common problem, where the bottom of the tomato turns dark and hard. This is caused by a lack of calcium in the soil, which can be controlled by adding lime. The only way to know how much lime to add is through a soil test. Tomatoes need a soil pH between 6.0- 6.5.

Bacterial wilt: The entire plant can rapidly collapse and die. Bacterial wilt is most common in moist soil, hot weather and high soil pH. The best control for bacterial wilt is to remove and destroy infected plants and to rotate your locations.

Septoria leaf spots: This is one of the most common leaf disease on tomatoes. The disease first appears as small, water-soaked spots on the leaves. The leaves gradually develop grayish white centers and dark edges. The best control for septoria leaf spots is to avoid working in the garden when the foliage is wet, and to remove as much plant debris from the garden as possible in the fall.

The best ways to protect your tomato plants from some of these diseases are to inspect your plants once or twice a week and to water early in the morning. This will give the leaves time to dry off before night.

Booker T. Leigh is an extension agent for Shelby County Extension office. For more gardening information, call the Shelby County office at 901-752-1207.


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She’s going to dig the HERShovel, a garden tool scientifically designed for women

It’s about time that farm and garden tools broke out of the ‘one size fits all’ model, and these two women farmers are bridging that gender gap with tools designed specifically for women.

We may all be equal, but we’re not all equally sized or proportioned, and because of the differences between women’s bodies and men’s bodies, the tools that work well in a man’s hands may not be nearly as useful to a woman. According to Green Heron Tools, women’s bodies tend to have a lot less upper body strength, less lower body strength, a lower center of gravity, proportionally shorter limbs, smaller hands and less grip strength than men’s bodies, which means that a ‘one size fits all’ shovel isn’t nearly as efficient or easy to use for a woman.

But thanks to the work of the two women farmers behind Green Heron Tools, women now have another choice when it comes to farm and garden tools, in the form of the HERShovel, which was scientifically and specifically designed for women’s bodies. The company’s tools and other equipment are not just ergonomic, but are hergonomic®, and designed to be “easiest, safest, most comfortable and most effective for women”.

After years of farming and talking with other women farmers, and sharing frustrations about the tools they used, Ann Adams and Liz Brensinger saw an opportunity to bridge the gender tool gap by developing a line of tools and equipment that would work better for women, because they were designed with women’s bodies in mind.

The two applied for, and received, a series of grants (Small Business Innovation Research grants) through the U.S. Department of Agriculture to develop their ideas, and as part of the process, they arranged to videotape women farmers as they shoveled, which revealed that women tended to use tools very differently than men did.

Everything from the angle that women put the shovel into the ground to the amount of energy expended while shoveling was analyzed, and the result of the research was the development of the HERShovel, which weighed less, was angled differently, had a large D-shaped handle, and required less energy to use.

According to an interview at Modern Farmer, this new tool was the first ever shovel to be ergonomically designed for women.

For two years, the partners and their researchers pulled shovels off the shelf at places like Lowe’s and Home Depot and sent women into the fields with them to monitor how they used them, including measuring the CO2 exchange in their breathing to determine the calorie burn required of different shovel types. They ultimately designed a shovel with a large definition, angled blade, and large D-handle (available in three sizes) that weighs only four pounds. “Our shovel required the least energy to use,” Adams remarks. “There was real science behind it.” – Modern Farmer

The HERShovel is sourced and made in the USA, with the blade made from recycled steel, the ash for the handle coming from a Appalachian Hardwood Verified Sustainable forest, and because the shovel is designed and built to last, it also comes with a 10-year limited warranty. The shovels come in three sizes (because even among women, one size does not fit all), and sell for $64.99.

© Green Heron Tools

Since the launch of the HERShovel, this tool has been Green Heron Tool’s best selling item, with great feedback from its users, and the company now carries and sells other ergonomic tools for women that were designed outside the company. The team of Adams and Brensinger is currently getting ready to bring about another renaissance in ergonomic farm tools for women, this time with a new type of lightweight battery-powered tiller, which uses conical blades instead of the conventional tines. The new design is said to not vibrate as much, as other tillers do, and to be gentler on both the soil and the user.

You can find out more about the shovel scientifically designed for women, and other handy hergonomic® farm tools, at Green Heron Tools, and if you have any anecdotes about frustrations with ‘one size fits all’ tools, please leave us a comment below.

[H/T to Grist]

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Wallingford Garden Club showcases floral and sculputral designs at Gallery 53 – Meriden Record

MERIDEN ­— The Wallingford Garden Club and Middlefield’s Mid-Lea Garden club joined forces to put on an exhibit at Gallery 53 consisting of floral and sculptural interpretations of paintings using fresh and dried flowers.

The show premiered July 11. Gallery 53 president Christine Webster said the turnout for the show so far has been very positive. This is the second year the Wallingford Garden Club has collaborated with Gallery 53, 53 Colony St., for the exhibit. According to Webster, last year the gallery featured 12 artists. This year, 18 artists contributed work, which included floral arrangements and sculptures.

Garden club members were asked to pick out a painting from the gallery and create their own floral or sculptural interpretation of it. A combination of art and adaptation, Webster said that this year, the club has taken their arrangements, “to a new height with the creativity and color,” of their creations.

Wallingford Garden Club president Shirley Lagerstrom said that the project was important to the club because many of the members lack experience with design. For many members of the group it was “a stretching exercise,” getting them out of their comfort zone and forcing them to get creative with their subjects.

The club’s Floral Design Chairman and former president Barbara Bruce helped organize the collaboration with the gallery, and according to Lagerstrom, is the expert designer of the bunch.

One of the pieces Bruce designed was a sculpture mounted in a blue wicker boat with different types of dried foliage spray painted vibrant colors.

The painting she chose to interpret was of a man taking off his shoes and dancing.

“It made me happy,” said Bruce, and she wanted her design to match the paintings light-hearted feel.

Sandy Frederick, President of the Mid-Lea club, said putting together her arrangement was an emotional experience for her. When she first saw the painting of a field in early spring still patched with snow, she said it made her feel nostalgic for the style of paintings her sister used to do.

“It just called to me,” Frederick said.

She chose to interpret the painting using an old copper bean scoop and foliage with soft white and wheat colors to match the painting’s color scheme.

Frederick said her sister can no longer paint due to Multiple Sclerosis. Seeing Frederick’s interpretation of the painting brought back positive memories for them both.

Max and Annette Bailey, of North Haven, were struck by the variety of art on display during a Tuesday visit to the gallery.

“I think it’s lovely, there are so many different mediums,” said Annette Bailey, “such a variety of subject matter.”

Max Bailey said it was a “great show,” saying that he enjoyed both the variety of the art and vibrant color scheme of the exhibit.

The Wallingford Garden club has been in existence for 84 years and has about 80 members. According to Lagerstrom, the group’s mission statement is, “to stimulate interest in horticulture, to aid in the protection and conservation of natural resources, to preserve heritage, to promote civic duty and to advance the art of floral design and landscape design.”

The exhibit will be open until July 25. The gallery is open to the public Tuesday – Friday from noon – 4 p.m., and on Saturday from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

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Dundalk garden designer takes home gold at London flower show

Award winning Dundalk garden designer Paul Martin scooped a gold medal in the Show Garden category at the Hampton Court Flower Show in London last week.

Paul who is from Mount Avenue impressed the judges with his smart, modern garden called ‘Vestra Wealth’s Vista’ which was designed for a contemporary home and elegantly caters for outdoor dining.

Various levels and layers of planting and hard landscaping surround a dining terrace with a cantilevered 13 foot cedar table.

Gabions are surrounded by copper and packed with split timber, which helps to encourage wildlife.

Clipped box lawns are used as alternatives to grass, with one of the lawns supporting a cedar water channel that cascades into a copper pool beneath.

The planting has large drifts of verbena, nepeta and lavender, with a colour palette of purples and blues to create a cool atmosphere on a hot summer’s evening.

Paul, who has been designing gardens for 27 years, also added a nice touch by edging the whole garden in a copper trim to give a slug/snail proof plot.

The multi award winning Dundalk gardener has also designed gardens for Bloom in the Park and won a gold medal and Best Concept Garden at Bloom in the Park last year.

The Dundalk man also won a gold medal in 2012 and took home gold for two years running in 2007 and 2008.

Paul also won gold for two consecutive years running in 2004 and 2005 at the RDS Garden Heaven Show.

He has also designed gardens for the Louise Kennedy Garden and the Chelsea Flower Show in London where he was a sliver medalist in 2003.

Paul graduated from the National Botanic Gardens in 1986 and has since gone on to design gardens in Ireland, America and Europe, while specialising in town and city gardens where attention to detail is of the utmost importance.

Some of his other projects include many hotels, commercial projects and state commissions.

To view more photos of Paul’s gold medal garden ‘Vestra Weath’s Vista’ visit

For further information on Paul and his designs you can visit his web site at

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A garden tour with drought in mind

Posted: Wednesday, July 16, 2014 5:00 am

A garden tour with drought in mind


It’s hot and dry, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a colorful garden or landscape. Mark Saturday, July 19, on the calendar to attend the 12th annual Xeriscape Garden Tour where ideas for drought-tolerant planting are abundant.

The Sierra Club-Big Bear Group sponsors the free, self-guided tour. Participants have eight different stops to tour. All stops feature landscaping designed around low-water, drought-tolerant plants. With California in the midst of a state-declared drought emergency, the ideas for landscaping will be valuable.

The tour begins at Emingers Mountain Nursery in Big Bear Lake where participants pick up a tour booklet, map and other information about gardening in the mountains. Experts will be stationed at each of the homes on the tour to explain the ins and outs of creating landscapes while conserving water. 

Tour sponsors will also be at Emingers throughout the day to answer questions on composting, tree care and artificial turf. Drought-tolerant plants are on sale at Emingers.

Midway through the day, Hunter’s Nursery offers native plants for sale. Orchid Black, Hunter’s Nursery’s native plant expert, is also available to answer questions. 

The tour is from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Emingers Mountain Nursery is at 41223 Big Bear Blvd., Big Bear Lake. Hunter’s Nursery is at 42132 Fox Farm Road, Big Bear Lake. 

For more information, call Christie Walker at 909-547-2237 or visit

© 2014 Big Bear Grizzly. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Wednesday, July 16, 2014 5:00 am.

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