neighborhood garden for june 5, 2010



by gladys jeurink

            Every year I try to grow something I have never had before but Nebraska is not the easiest place for trials.  Last year I started seeds of “Love-In-A-Puff”        also known as Hairy Balls (Gomphocarpus) that were over 7 feet tall and covered with many hairy balls.  This summer I have found a number of tiny plants in that area.

          This spring I have a new purple lilac, not supposed to grow over 5 feet tall and blooms in the spring, rests in the heat of summer and then blooms again in the fall.  I planted it between several Caryopteris (Blue Spirea) that bloom in the fall.  The blue and purple should go well together.  The Lilac (Syringa species) name is Bloomerang.

          On the front parkway are the Iris (new last year) with stripes. Remember Mr. Ensminger who “invented” Batik, the deep blue with striped petals a number of years ago.  Now other hybridizers have developed stripes in various colors.  They are all tall bearded.

          In the backyard are plants from seed under lights that are called “Pumpkins On A Stick”. They are very tiny for pumpkins and actually an eggplant with little (2 inch) orange pumpkins on the stem.

          In my gray garden are some new Horehound plants (Marrubrium vulgare). Like others these plants are gray and fuzzy only about 18 inches tall.  Their description says they grow in sunny, dry, stony wasteland.

          Everyone has warned me to avoid mints but last summer I found some short ones with a little red to their foliage and they did quite well along one of my paths.  This spring something reddish was coming up in an area about 4 feet square.  I do have several kinds of hoes if needed.

          This is my second year for two huge pots of Blueberries.  In the fall I added a generous amount of granular sulfur to the potting soil to give it a winter to alter the pH to an acid level.  This spring, after being buried in snow all winter, the plants are covered with small blooms so perhaps I will have fresh Blueberries. I used pots because it should be easier to maintain a lower pH there than in a space in the garden. This approach required getting low bush varieties.

          The big Cottonwood has turned the entire yard into a soft white blanket as the cotton sticks to anything it meets on the way down.  In a week or so all the dried pods will make the yard crunchy as they fall.  Rain will sink the fuzz but I will have to rake up the pods.



          IPM-We see these initials or the term Integrated Pest Management all the time in garden magazines and articles but do we practice IPM? My own definition: “Use for my benefit anything to make the plants look better, but do as little harm as possible, while combining water used and the amount of rain and humidity so it is not wasted, and combining “good” bugs to keep the “bad” ones under control.”

          To some people it means no pesticides.  To other it means using them as a last resort.  IPM means to look at your entire yard to see if you have a problem and how bad it is, then deciding what will do the most good and the least harm.  For example, how many eaten leaves can you stand.

          Then you need to identify the enemy. If you have Mites, spraying with an insecticide might not be the best method. As with bacteria becoming resistant in people who take antibiotics too often, so to some of the bugs in your yard may become resistant to a pesticide. You need to learn as much as you can about the enemy such as how long does it live, and are there enough of them to do a great deal of harm. Plants will grow new leaves if the damage from an insect or disease is not too bad.  You will need to know the life cycle to know when it is more likely to be harmed if at all.  For example, if you spray an adult scale the pesticide will slide right off that umbrella type covering, but spray a baby scale that hasn’t developed that covering, and it will be fatal.

          How about eggs? Will your pesticide get through the outer covering? What about the beneficial insects? Remember your pesticide spray can’t tell the difference. My Cup Plants get what looks like an overwhelming infection of Red Aphids every spring but if I have seen a few Lady Bugs around and do nothing, in two days the Ladies and their hungry offspring have cleared my plants.

          Suppose you kill all the Aphids with your spray-what happens? Some minor bugs now have a breakfast plant free of competition and will move in. Many times you need to do very little.

          Mites like hot dry weather and like to drink juice from Dwarf Alberta Spruce, Hibiscus, and number of others. You will notice the leaves look a little speckled so put a white piece of paper under a leaf and tap it.  Mites will be those little specks of dust moving around on your paper. A good hit with water will do a good job and you won’t kill the good bugs in the neighborhood.


Copyright 2010