To every thing there is a season and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die: a time to plant and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew, a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
Ecclesiastes, Chapter 3
I know we've all heard that one, thanks to Pete and The Byrds, but it is worth revisiting, especially when we are dealing with a time of challenge. Most of us are looking constantly to improve our lot: eat better, get more exercise, beautify our home, learn something new....(your list goes on from here). Our gardens are an excellent example of this impulse, with our vows to weed, to figure out a full season of perennial color, to plant more pollinator plants, to fight back when your garden is in the Pest Time.
No matter what we do, though, the cycles of life continue unabated. Every year the insects come, the fungus comes, the storms, the drought, the heat, the frosts, they all happen and will always happen. And on the other side, the flowers will bloom, the sky will clear, the breeze will be soft, the fruit will ripen. So this year, before my impulse to FIX IT kicks in completely, I will observe it, I will accept it and I will (try to) embrace it and acknowledge its time. I may not like it, but it is what it is.
So in this spirit, let's look at the Gallery of June Garden Woes. These are real live picture from right here in the Twin Cities!
Pictures from the top, and then left to right:
Four lined plant bug damage - This has been a really intense year for this beetle's voracious appetite. If you look quietly and closely at your damaged plants, you will see a small beetle with black and yellow vertical striping. Their larvae, which is red and black, starts the party, using its proboscis to suck the uniform little holes in the leaves. It's easier to rid the plant at the immature stage, because they can be picked and squished. The adults can fly and are more challenging. The strategies for dealing with them range from Tolerate and Ignore to using an organic pyrethrin spray for the adults, which you have to hit with the spray. This should really only be used in extreme situations because it can also harm predator insects and other bugs you want in your garden. If you are constantly plagued by these bugs, clean up the host plant and throw away the refuse. The eggs are laid in slits in the stems of the host plant and overwinter there.
Aphids on Honeysuckle - Aphids are spreading to a number of plants in my yard this year; they used to be very happy to stay on the indestructible honeysuckle. Spraying the plant with water set on "jet" can help if done frequently. Lady bugs (which should be arriving at the shops any day now) love aphids and are a tremendous help in controlling. Insecticidal soap can be sprayed in situations where you have infestations. Ants on a plant can be a sign, black ants "herd" aphids to feed on the sugar they secrete.
Imported cabbage worm chowing on the Savoy cabbage - look on the underside of the leaves for a very well camouflaged wormy, almost fuzzy, pale green caterpillar. Roll it off and chuck it into the grass or compost pile. Some children like to squish them. The white moths you see flying around are laying eggs on your cabbage, kale and other brassica, which are turning into these ravenous caterpillars. If you have a giant garden of brassica, consider using BT (Bacillus thuringiensis).
Japanese beetle, upper leaves of plum tree - There really is no organic elimination method for this beautiful and hungry beetle. Using beneficial nematodes in your turf will affect them at the larval stage, as will Milky Spore. You can also cover your shrubs in kaolin clay. (We sell it as Surround WP) It is a mechanical barrier that a number of pests dislike, but it covers your plant in a grayish white color. It literally is clay, is completely non-toxic, and many people swear by it. Japanese beetles are attracted by crowds of beetles, so if you can pick them off and drop them in soapy water every morning in late June and July, you disrupt their crowding tendency and therefore the damage. Tough one.
Mount Royal plum damage- I'm working on this one now - I have gotten information that it may be fruit fly damage or plum curculio, a weevil. That little bite mark is the entry point for the egg that turns into a worm, that eats the plum, that drops to the ground, that pupates in the soil, that makes more weevils, all in the house that Jack built. More later...
Our advice where all of these pesky critters are concerned always starts with Tolerate and Ignore. Use the smallest possible gun you can get away with. The big guns can be effective, but remember that they are often effective against lots of other creatures, too, which can disrupt the delicate balance in your garden, or even in all of our gardens.
And since we are talking about the big guns in the insecticide world, we wanted to add a little clarification about neonicotinoids and their use in the home gardening business, and at Mother Earth Gardens in particular. As most of you have heard, neonicotinoids are a the most commonly used class of insecticides in the world, and are routinely used in both the agricultural and horticultural industries. "Neonics" have been implicated as a cause, along with several other potential causes, in the decline of bee populations. An article was brought to our attention recently that implied that annual bedding plants with the Proven Winners brand with were all treated with neonics.
We were perplexed by this, because our trusted annual growers grow organically. It turns out that the Proven Winners label is just that: it is a brand only, not a grower. Proven Winners "brands" certain plants and certain growers grow the liners, or small cuttings for finishing growers. Those liner providers can grow them neonicotinoid-free if they choose, or they can grow them with neonics. Our growers only source plants from "safe" Proven Winners providers, then grow them organically. Short story: NO neonics on our annual Proven Winners brands, or on any of our annuals.
This is a complex topic, it is definitely worth digging if you want a nuanced answer. Thanks for hanging with us as we navigate the maze.
Enjoy the FOURTH of JULY! We are CLOSED, so stock up on July 3rd. Remember, we stock herbs, annuals, perennials, fruit and shrubs ALL SUMMER! We also just got a whole buncha new decor, so stop by. The crowds have thinned and you can wander in peace...
Take good care.