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Breathe Life Back into Your Late Summer Garden

late summer garden

Your garden bloomed into color in spring but now as the late summer days begin, you realize the plants don’t look as exuberant as they once did. Lower leaves are turning brown and dropping off. Spider mites are spotting the leaves. There’s less new growth.  Those beautiful blooms are wilting in the heat of the afternoon. The fruit is ripening more slowly. Fewer new flower buds appear. The nutrients in the soil are being used up or washed away.

Mature plants need more water. The late summer garden certainly requires more effort, but fear not, all is not lost. You can boost your garden back to life. As late summer and fall arrive, atmospheric humidity declines. This causes soil moisture to evaporate more quickly. Your normal watering routine from June and July just won’t cut it and will need to supplement with regular soakings to support your late summer garden.

One way to supplement your watering is to set a dripping garden hose at the bottom of each plant for a couple of hours. Repeat this every few days. Try creating generous watering basins around the base of each plant. Make them big enough to hold a lot of water directly over the root zone so it may gradually percolate down into the soil. Soaker hoses and sprinklers will also help if left on long enough to penetrate deeper than the top few inches of soil.

As time goes on the nutrients in the soil begin to get used up adding a second helping of fertilizer in August can make a big difference.

Select a fertilizer carefully, too much nitrogen can sacrifice flower production. Rather than using a single form such as manure or compost, fertilizer blends that contain a diverse formula of minerals and nutrients. They are as easy to apply as any larger name brand. They are manufactured locally, so each region of the country will have its own brands. You’ll find them at quality garden centers.

Keep watering and fertilizing your garden through the late summer and you will see your garden spring back to life.

What’s with All of These Moths?

moths

Around this time of year, you may notice an abundance of moths when you’re out and about. You’ll see them stuck on windows and walls everywhere you go, and can’t seem to escape the seemingly endless swarms of them if you’re walking near trees.

So what’s going on with all of the moths? The answer is easy! Lots of moths around now means there were lots of caterpillars around before!

This spring there was a boom in the caterpillar population, so now we’re experiencing a heavy moth infestation.

Called Winter Moths, they originally came from Europe. They most likely hitchhiked to New York by attaching themselves to crates containing imported products, and since they have no natural predators here, their population is swelling.

The big problem comes in the spring though, when their caterpillars emerge and feast on leafy deciduous trees like maples, oaks, elms, and fruit trees. If it’s a weak stressed out tree to begin with, the caterpillar can kill it.

Your trees are at a much greater risk now than they used to be, because in addition to the Winter moth, other tree munching species, such as the Gypsy moth have also experienced soaring numbers.

Unfortunately, there’s nothing you can do to get rid of the moths now. Prevention is the cure, and the best cure is to spray for the caterpillars in the spring.

Experts say these moths will be around through the end of December.

To prevent a similar swarm from occurring again next year, you should schedule a tree spraying for early spring. Scheduling a spraying now will help make sure this  doesn’t happen again next year.

For tree spraying questions or if your trees have had damage by caterpillars call Aronica Plant and ask about tree spraying and tree care.

Tree Trimming Long Island

tree-trimming-pruning-sl

Tree trimming and pruning is important for healthy trees.

Although forest trees grow quite well with only nature’s pruning, landscape trees require a higher level of care to maintain their structural integrity and aesthetics. Improper pruning can create lasting damage or even shorten the tree’s life so tree trimming and pruning must be done with an understanding of tree biology.

Reasons for Pruning

Because each cut has the potential to change the growth of the tree, no branch should be removed without a reason. Common reasons for pruning are to

  • Remove dead branches
  • Improve form
  • Reduce risk to property and other trees
  • Increase light and air penetration to the inside of the tree’s crown or to the landscape below.

 

Routine thinning does not necessarily improve the health of a tree. Trees produce a dense crown of leaves to create the energy for growth and development. Removal of foliage through pruning can reduce growth and stored energy reserves. Heavy pruning can be a significant health stress for the tree.

There are many outside considerations, however, that make it necessary to prune trees. Safety, clearance, and compatibility with other components of a landscape are all major concerns. Proper pruning, with an understanding of tree biology, can maintain good tree health and structure while enhancing the aesthetic and economic values of our landscapes.

Inchworm Problems

inchworm

Having a few inch worms is not destructive to the natural habitat since many trees and plant life can survive minimal inchworm feeding. However, when the number of inchworms grows, they can become a destructive pest, often damaging vegetable crops and ornamental trees, shrubs and flowers. The inchworm can be particularly destructive once an infestation is present because female moths lay their eggs in both fall and spring cycles.

To find out if you have inch worms, you can lightly shake plants to check for worms and larvae, or you can carefully examine branches for signs of infection. Infected plants will have noticeable tiny and irregularly shaped holes between the veins. Generally reaching one inch in length, they can be any color from white to green or black and are smooth and hairless.

The diet of an inchworm varies by its species. Typical inchworms cause damage on apple trees, oaks, and sweet gums. Other species of inchworm prefer vegetable gardens and will feast upon almost any vegetable you plant, including tomatoes, celery, beans, potatoes, cabbage, and radishes.

The best type of prevention of an inchworm infestation is making sure your lawn or garden is hospitable to the inchworm’s natural predators like birds. Attracting birds with a birdhouse is a great way to get ahead of the problem.

However, if the infestation is large enough to present significant damage, you may opt to hire a professional to take care of the problem. A professional extermination company may use any number of treatment options.

 

Mosquito Control and the Zika Virus

 

Mosquito Control

With the mosquito-borne Zika Virus making its way up the coast the need for mosquito control. There are no treatments for mosquito-borne viruses such as Zika and dengue, so preventing mosquito bites is key.

There have been several dengue outbreaks over the last several decades. These infections can escalate to the point of causing severe pain, bleeding, shock and death. Other states have seen pockets of chikungunya in the last couple of years. It often afflicts the infected with debilitating joint pain. Another mosquito-borne virus, West Nile and can cause severe disease like chronic kidney disease and neurological problems.

The lack of antiviral medication and treatments for these diseases  makes prevention even more important.

While there have been reported cases of Zika Virus in New York, once the warm weather hits it is unknown how north the virus will travel. It is already not possible to entirely avoid dengue and chikungunya in the United States.

The good news is that all these viruses can be avoided by taking measures to prevent mosquito bites, which pass the viruses in their saliva.

Americans can take a break from worrying about diseases from mosquitoes in the winter because most mosquitoes are not active when it is cold, but summer is coming

You are more likely to encounter mosquitoes, which can carry West Nile virus, outdoors and at night. But you are at higher risk of bites from some breeds of mosquitoes, which can spread dengue, chikungunya and Zika, inside. That is because these types  are active and feed during the day. They come in the house for shade … they live very close to people.

The best thing you can do for mosquito control is tree spraying. There are plenty of organic insect control compounds that kill the dangerous insects, but are safe for your family and pets. Discuss your tree spraying schedule early to ensure a happy, mosquito free summer.

One of the most important things to do when the weather warms up is make sure you don’t have standing water outside your house, such as in a garbage can lid, birdbath or trays of potted plants. Anything sitting around for more than five to seven days can be a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

Dump standing water at least once a week on dry ground — any larvae in the water will die when the water evaporates and they dry out. You can also take a look at standing water to make sure it does not contain mosquito larvae, which are visible to the naked eye.

Spring Has Sprung!

spring gardening check list

Spring is around the corner! It’s time to break out the trowels and those gardening gloves.
Here is your spring gardening check list:
• Prune away winter-killed branches to make room for new growth. Cut back spent perennials and pull up old annuals if you didn’t get around to it last fall. Then look around. March is a good time to take stock of your yard and see if it’s time to thin out crowded beds and do some transplanting to fill in bare spots.
• Check for signs of growth-If the weather has been warm enough, some plants might have gotten started without you.
• Prep the beds-Remove winter mulch or, if it has been well composted, work into the top layer of the soil. Clear away any broken or damaged branches. Rake out fallen leaves and dead foliage. Also remove existing mulch to set the stage for a new layer once spring planting is done. Push heaved plants back into flower beds and borders. Spread a pelletized fertilizer tailored to existing plantings on the soil’s surface so that spring rains can carry it to the roots.
• Prune away dead and damaged branches-Where tree or shrub branches have been damaged by cold, snow, and wind, prune back to live stems; use a handsaw for any larger than ½ inch in diameter. Shape hedges with hand pruners, rather than electric shear.
• Divide perennials-Before plants have begun spring growth is a good time to divide many perennials. Prune flowering perennials to a height of 4–5 inches and ornamental grasses to 2–3 inches to allow new growth to shoot up.
• Where soil has thawed, dig up perennials, such as daylilies and hostas, to thin crowded beds; divide them, leaving at least three stems per clump, and transplant them to fill in sparse areas. Cut back winter-damaged rose canes to 1 inch below the blackened area.
• Perform basic maintenance-Check stonework for frost heaves. Check and clean the deck now so you don’t have to do it later; make any repairs.
• Start seeds indoors- Set your indoor seed planting now so they will be ready when the time is right.
• Plant veggies-Hardy vegetables, such as onions, potatoes, artichokes, and some lettuces, should be planted now.

Prevent Tree Trimming Emergency This Winter

Winter storms routinely dump ice and snow on trees and branches. Falling branches and trees can destroy cars, homes and knock out power systems. If a particularly bad storm hits, there can be a long wait for licensed tree service companies to take care of the damage.

Many Long Island tree service professionals agree that prevention is key to sparing your property from tree damage during a winter storm.

  1. Know the signs of a weak tree

You should routinely inspect your trees throughout the year, especially after a storm or heavy winds. Keep an eye out for any type of visible decay, such as mushrooms growing out of the base of the tree, or dead or hanging branches.

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  1. Not all trees are created equal

Certain trees are more likely to fall during a winter storm than others. Silver maple hybrids and fast-growing trees, such as poplars and cottonwoods, are more likely to fall during a winter storm due to their brittle wood. When planting these trees keep in mind that you should not plant them too near structures or powerlines.

For stronger, more storm-resistant trees, consider planting hardwoods, such as oaks and maples.

 

  1. Tree Pruning is Important

Regular tree pruning will keep problematic branches from endangering your property. If you notice a weak or broken branch, it might be a good idea to call a local tree trimming company or certified arborist before a storm to take a look at any potential problem trees

Pruning at an early age can help a tree build a strong foundation and prevent storm-related damage. However, homeowners often neglect pruning young trees because they assume there’s no immediate threat to their property.

Pruning can be done any time of year, but there is an advantage to assessing a tree while its leaves are off.