Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Japanese Beetle Blues 2017

If you're a regular reader of my blogs (thank you very much), then you know I've become a one-note-Charlie when it comes to writing about the very destructive pest insect - Japanese beetle. It would be much more pleasant to write about eating delicious home grown vegetables, summer outdoor gatherings, or our trip to Vancouver B.C. Wait, some of those experiences have happened and the Canadian trip is planned for the fall in celebration of a certain someone's milestone summer birthday.

Over the past couple of years I've written about the Japanese beetle life cycle, their destruction to landscape plants in the Denver area (including lists of plants they like and mostly avoid) and some of the false information that is out there roaming the local internet community bulletin boards. This is one pest insect that garners lots of discussion most of the summer season, right up there with Emerald Ash Borers, which are plaguing Boulder County (they haven't been detected in Denver...yet).

Click HERE for the spring larvae control blog. We're beyond killing their spring larvae at this point. Instead, we need to focus on emerging adults and their next generation as females lay eggs in to September. In the spring blog there are links to earlier writings with more information about Japanese beetles and research-based control options (for larvae and adults).

Japanese beetle adults have emerged around me, I haven't locked onto one yet, but that will happen any minute. My friend Peggy spotted six beetles on Father's Day. In a couple of weeks, the number will rise to seventy, or seven hundred or more, depending on how long they've been visiting your garden and the meals you're serving, or shall I say growing. They've been in my garden for a good six years so they know my street address.

I decided to be proactive before they arrived and sprayed CEDAR OIL on our most vulnerable plants. One area in our garden that gets most of our attention is a mono-culture of silver lace vines (that can't easily be removed or replaced) without losing our valuable privacy from the alley.

Very recently I learned from a PhD professor in ornamental pathology at the University of Tennessee (Knoxville) that JBs eat in groups, not because a crowd of beetles attract more numbers to the plant, but because once a plant is chewed, volatile oils are released and beetles are strongly attracted to the scent of the plant oils from leaves and flowers. 

That opens up some defensive possibilities for gardeners - how about spraying your plants before beetles arrive in the garden? Maybe early action will reduce numbers, maybe it might deter them so they go to the Virginia creeper next door. Maybe it won't be hot on the fourth of July? That's a a whole lot of maybes, but what Dr. Windham said makes sense. Keep them from chewing and releasing plant oils in the first place and just maybe.... 

He also stressed the importance of consistent, daily hand removal by flicking or tapping adults into soapy water. He has graduate students at the University of Tennessee who tap beetles off the research roses twice a day. We don't have that kind of help, but try to work in some flick time early in the morning or late evening when the beetles are more sluggish and taking a break from their constant chewing, scr_ _ _ _ _ and egg laying routine.

I try to avoid any spray contact with bees and other pollinators in my garden, so I spray well after the sun has set - while it is still barely light outside. I don't spray in the morning because pollinators are often active before first light. I have found that my home brew spray (2-3 times a week) kills just as well as any organic product sold over the counter plus it's easy to make and low cost. This is no infomercial for my home brew (I don't sell it), I'm just letting you know my control methods. It has not been tested by any university or company and I don't guarantee that pollinators or plant foliage will be unaffected.

Time to retreat to the basement or pack the car and head to the mountains or anywhere where it's cooler - it was 99 degrees today, the first day of summer. Unlike me, Japanese beetles love hot weather.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Garlic Harvest and Composting

Can you believe it, summer officially begins this week - just in time to focus on your fall planted garlic, harvest is any day or minute. Plus, get your compost pile started or stoked. Here's the first few bullets from my most recent Denver Post Punch List column, click on the link to continue reading.

Just like growing garlic, harvest is easy.  These few tips will guarantee a tasty pesto.
Cut garlic scapes (flowers) two weeks prior to harvest
  • Garlic is putting on lots of bulb growth in the weeks before harvest, so regular watering is important.
  • Hardneck garlic produces scapes (flower stalks) that should be cut off two weeks prior to harvest so bulbs grow bigger. Use scapes in stir fries or pesto, grill them like asparagus.
  • Refrain from watering garlic plants a few days before harvesting to transition the bulbs to their final maturation and to prevent staining of the papery cover that wraps the bulbs.
  • Continue reading.... 

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

June Rose Blooms and The Rocky Mountain District Rose Show

June is always a busy month for gardeners - seeding, planting, and getting the containers all prettied up and anything else that needs to be finished before ninety-five plus degree days kick in. When it gets that warm I pin shade cloth to the tomato cages and head to the cool basement for a nap.  

This is also the month to enjoy roses in bloom (any many other plants, no dissing them, honest). But roses are America's national floral emblem after all, and most gardens have a rose bush or two. This season I'm noticing many 'Dr. Huey' roses blooming heavily all over Denver. These are the dark crimson, once blooming large shrub-climbers that are growing in vacant yards, alleys, cemeteries, in parks and possibly in your own garden. Not that there's anything wrong with 'Dr. Huey,' but in case you don't know - he is the most popular root stock used for grafting other rose varieties. He first started out as an own root rose grown and enjoyed for the dark red blooms with bright yellow stamens back in the early 1900s. Over the years he came to true fame as a very hardy root stock that growers and rose breeders use to graft such well known beauties like 'Peace,' 'Chrysler Imperial.' 'Gemini,' and 'Queen Elizabeth.'

If you planted one of these named roses (or any grafted rose) and down the road the bloom color changed, then the upper grafted rose died (usually from improper planting) and you know who - 'Dr. Huey' took its place! He didn't die below ground, he just continued growing above ground like any own root rose. This happens all the time with grafted roses and it will probably be happening five hundred years from now.

'Dr. Huey' overtaking another rose, possibly 'George Burns'
There are no landscape violation police, thank goodness, otherwise I would have been cited often through the years, but the 'Dr. Huey' rose is, shall I say, almost a rose weed (please don't yell at me). A couple of years ago I noticed he was growing outside my hairdresser's shop window and mentioned his provenance. Without any hesitation she said she liked the rose and had no desire to remove it and plant whatever was planted there originally, which she couldn't recall. 

Warning to anyone who tries to remove 'Dr. Huey,' you'll be working and digging quite awhile and if you leave any roots it will respond like bindweed and grow back again shortly. I admit, I'm quick to say "shovel prune" him to put in a different equally handsome or pretty rose that you'll enjoy all summer and fall. But it's your call.

Another reason to toss - 'Dr. Huey' usually comes down with a bad case of black spot later in the summer. Maybe Japanese beetles don't like 'Dr. Huey'... doubtful.

Almost dead grafted rose, the graft should be 2-3" below soil
I took this recent photo of 'Dr. Huey' at the Longmont Memorial Rose Garden, worth a visit by the way, very, very nice roses and lay out. But even in a well tended public garden he can show his mighty strength. In the same garden I noticed a couple of close to death grafted roses. 

They avoided becoming future 'Dr. Huey' roses because the whole plant died. The graft was more than two inches above the ground. The Denver Rose Society keeps spreading the word that the graft on any rose must go under the soil when planted (2-3 inches), not above, which is fine if you're living in the south. 

Speaking of roses, you probably won't find any 'Dr. Huey' roses submitted for judging at the Rocky Mountain Rose District Rose Show this Sunday, June 18 at Denver Botanic Gardens in Mitchell Hall. If he is submitted, he'll be in perfect health and shape for judging, just like all the other entries. This show is not to be missed. A district show always means lots of entries, beautiful roses and many varieties on display for judging and public viewing.  

You can enter too, there's a novice class for first timers, plus junior classes for people eighteen and younger. Find out all you need to know on this link - Rocky Mountain District Rose Show. Scroll down and click on the show schedule for information on the classes and sections to enter. In a show there's all sorts of fun ways to display roses for judging - vases, bowls, picture frames, floral arrangements and photography. 

If you're not the exhibitor type, come by Mitchell Hall at Denver Botanic Gardens to view the winners from 1:00 pm to 4:30 pm. It's free to view with paid admission to DBG. And if you get in to the whole rose exhibiting spirit, there's always next year. 

Feel free to visit with anyone from the Denver Rose Society who will be on hand to answer questions. I'll be there taking photos and videos. And maybe, just maybe, I'll take home a blue ribbon. 

Working on the bud, getting it posed just right to go in to the vase!

Judges viewing rose arrangements
Best in Show 2015, Dave I. 'Veteran's Honor'

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Plant the Warms and Everything!

Oh dear, it's already past Memorial Day weekend and there's still so many plants that need to be purchased and put in the ground or in containers. I feel your need to rush so they can get growing, July 4th is next week (not really, but blink and it will be here). I just returned from a garden center, the shelves were nice and full and being stocked as I shopped. Does that rhyme?

No need to fret, this is the perfect time to purchase and plant your warm season vegetables and herbs, plus all perennials, shrubs, trees and anything else living on the list I missed, again with a rhyme!

Below is a re-posting of my warm season vegetable chart which may help you with the planting windows. Keep in mind that maturity dates on vegetables like tomatoes or peppers range from 55 to 85 days, so be sure to read the plant tag and look for shorter season maturing crops if planting later in June or early July. Plan ahead too - some short season vegetables are perfect for a second planting mid-summer like beans and summer squash. 

Oh boy the joy of summer begins! 

Monday, May 29, 2017