Monday, July 26, 2010

Using Garden Chemicals

Organic lawncare is less expensive in the long run but sometimes you have diseases or insects that require a chemical control or the weeds are running rampant and you just need to deal with them.  Garden chemicals are expensive but if you use them correctly they will be alot more effective and won't cost as much to use.

Before you spray make sure the plants, even the target weeds, are thoroughly watered in.  For the weeds, you want them actively growing so that they will take up all and use the herbicide more effectively.  Onamentals and vegetables should be actively growing so that they can withstand the stress of having chemicals applied to them.  Many chemicals require some period of no rain or water for the chemical to work its way into the plant. If the plant hasn't been watered before chemical application it may become stressed from lack of water.

Always spray when it is cool and expected to stay cool for a few days after application.  For herbicides this is especially important because plants take in the chemical through pores in their leaves.  In the heat these pores close up and the herbicide cannot be taken in by the plant.  Also, plants tend to slow down their rate of growth in the heat so if they are not actively growing they are not actively dying.  Leaves have a waxy coating or even a coating of dust that also impedes chemical takeup.  You can add a "spreader/sticker" to the chemical mixture that cuts through this wax and dirt and again increases the chemical's effectiveness.

Spray early in the morning so the chemical has time to dry before the sun hits it.  The beads of liquid can act like a magnifying glass and burn the leaves.  Spray when the wind is calm so that you don't have spray drift and accidently take out some of your perennials when you were spraying for other broad leaf weeds.

As always read the label and make sure it will treat the problem you have.  If you have questions about any chemical stop by Countryside and ask one the ICN professionals to help you determine what the problem is and how best to treat it.  And follow the label directions--more is not always better.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Blossom End Rot

I was really bummed this week to discover that some of my tomatoes have blossom end rot. I have probably pitched 7-8 tomatoes. I grow my veggies and herbs in containers because I don’t have a lot of room where there is full sun. I was really happy this spring to discover that the thyme had survived the winter and I replanted the rosemary I had taken inside last fall and it has done really well. This year I planted a bush Early Girl and it has grown and produced quite a few blossoms that will eventually turn into tomatoes.

Blossom end rot pretty much tells you what the disease does in tomatoes. The blossom end turns black and eventually the whole tomato rots. It is caused by a lack of calcium and is due to irregular watering. Too little water and the plant cannot take up enough calcium, too much and the nutrients are diluted. I think it is exacerbated in container gardening because there is only so much soil to hold water and nutrients and the roots can only go so far before they reach the side of the container. When the tomatoes are in the ground at least they can send the roots farther out to search for nutrients and water.

The most immediate remedy (besides correcting the water issue) is water soluble calcium that you can spray on the leaves of the tomato. It is available at Countryside and is called Blossom End Rot Stop.

Planting tip: If for some reason you are having to plant or transplant in this heat, use an anti-transpirant such as Wilt Stop or Wilt Pruf. This will keeps the plant from losing moisture and will make your planting more successful. Plants need about an inch of water a week and prefer to be watered deeply and infrequently rather than frequent shallow waterings.