Preventing and Mitigating Summer Stress
The proactive gardener will always have an advantage. Armed with a basic knowledge of plants, and the potential problems presented by each new season, the wise gardener seeks to be proactive, not reactive. Knowing that our cold, wet spring will likely result in an increased incidence of disease, like powdery mildew and gray mold, leads us to explore defensive options. There are several ways to strengthen a plant's natural disease resistance. Applications of manure or compost tea is a time honored method. Foliar applications of kelp not only strengthen disease resistance, but bolster coping mechanisms during periods of heat, drought and cold. Foliar feed with Neptune's Harvest Seaweed, or their Fish & Seaweed Fertiliizer, on a weekly basis... that high-sucrose fish component discourages the constant drain on a plant's energies from sucking insects like spider mites. Introduce a system of disease prevention and/or mitigation with Bonide's Revitalize, a natural biofungicide/bactericide. Serenade is a natural biofungicide. The use of sulfur or copper may be indicated, both of which are used by organic gardeners.
Realizing that gypsy moth caterpillars, four-lined plant bugs, pine sawflies, scale insects, and spider mites may pose a real threat, has us arming ourselves with effective, but safer, controls.
While we may not be able to prevent every summer issue, we can at least mitigate any negative effects on the landscape. For prevention of sucking insect damage, weekly foliar feeding with Neptune's Harvest Fish, or Fish & Seaweed Fertilizer, is a great start to your preventative program. Insecticidal Soap, Neem Oil, Organocide 3-in-1 spray, Thuricide, Pharm Solutions products, horticultural oil, Spinosad, and whitefly traps are some of the safer controls we have at hand. This spring found many gardeners introducing native ladybugs, praying mantids, and beneficial nematodes into their landscape for truly natural control of insect pests.
Prevention starts on an even more basic level. Right plant for the right place! Be honest about your available light, soil type, and allotted space before choosing plant material. Research that tree or shrub thoroughly... will it truly thrive in your yard? Does it demonstrate a certain resistance, or susceptibility, to insects or disease? Will it survive your exposure, winter winds, or deer invasion? Go to this helpful section of the Corliss Bros. website (corlissbrothers.com) for planning, planting, and maintenance advice as you continue to embellish your home landscape... "How to Plant & Water" (http://corlissbrothers.com/installation.htm)
Hopefully, this discussion of prevention and mitigation leaves you filled with confidence about the tools at hand, proceeding to help your landscape survive summer stress with minimal environmental impact. Quick review? #1...Prevent. #2...Mitigate. #3...Get out there and enjoy those summer gardens!
Written by Deb Lambert for Corliss Bros. Garden Center & Nursery,