Saturday, June 8, 2013

Moths and Maggots and Aphids, oh my!

This post will cover four categories of pest and disease prevention and treatment in the garden, including cultural, physical, biological and organic chemical.

I. Cultural

  •             Soil testing and appropriately amending your soil is an easy way to prevent "abiotic diseases", which are caused by deficiencies in micronutrients. UMass is a great place to send your soil (University of Maryland no longer does testing.) UMass will email you back with the results of your test along with very clear instructions on how to correct any nutrient deficiencies you may have. Not all testing sites give the appropriate reference ranges and recommendations. Go to: to get information on how to send in your sample. It takes about 10 minutes, costs $10 and will help you produce better, healthier plants, as well as reduce overuse of fertilizers that will run into the Bay. It is recommended to test every 3-4 years.
  •             Garden diary should include type of plants, when planted, weather, plant date, harvest date, when you had first insect damage. If you have aphids in mid-July, for example, and the weather is similar the following year, you will know when to watch for them.
  •              Plot garden prior to planting taking into account distance needed between plants. (For example, tomato plants should be 3 feet apart to prevent fungal disease). Plan for plants that grow well in our local area- Zone 7. Zone 6 plants may not be able to take our hot summers.
II. Physical 
  •             Fertilize appropriately with organic materials as directed per your soil test. Keep in mind that a vegetable garden has different requirements than blueberries, raspberries and strawberries, so if you are growing berries, do the test specific for them.
  •            Trap plants can be used as decoy plants to attract insects away from the plants you don't want to be eaten. For example, amaranth, pictured above can be used as a trap plant for cucumber beetles as well as making a great cover crop.
III. Biological 
  •            Biodiversity means planting a wide variety of crops which will help attract "good" insects to control "bad" insects. 

  •            Don't bother buying ladybugs unless you have aphids, otherwise ladybugs will have nothing to eat and most likely fly away.
  •            Praying mantises are not necessarily helpful as they eat good insects as well as bad, so do not purchase them. However, if you find them in your garden, it is a sign of a healthy garden.
IV. Organic Chemical
  •           Neem insecticidal spray

  •           Bacillus thuringiensis (BT)- for gypsy moths     
  •           Spinosad
  •           Note- I will talk more about these sprays and their safety in a future post

******This information was adapted from a talk given by Master Gardener, Norman Cohen at the last meeting of the Rodgers Forge Garden Club. He will be available at the Towson Farmers' Market to answer gardening questions from June 13 thru September, 10am-1pm on Allegheny Ave near Fader's. No sessions on Sept 5 and 19 and Aug 8.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Monkton Train Station Gardens to Feature Workshops June 7 and 9

Just wanted to pass along this info if anyone was interested-
 Did you know there are kings, witches, and spiders in Monkton?
 The Gunpowder Garden Club will introduce you to the special characters in its gardens at the Monkton Train Station at 1820 Monkton Road during National Garden Week, June 1 through 8. The club will be offering free workshops and tours of the gardens on the Torrey C. Brown Trail. The brief workshops will show you how to bring character to your own gardens and containers. Children are welcome to attend (the characters are looking forward to meeting them!)
 During the workshops, club members will demonstrate how to turn the ordinary into the extraordinary by replacing familiar yet common plants with more unusual ones that will dress up the landscape palette.
 Train station workshops will be held on Friday, June 7 at 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. and on Sunday, June 9 at 2:00 p.m. You will go home with a list of plant material that can help you enhance the colors and textures of your gardens, and plot a course to the extraordinary.
 This workshop is quite timely. A long-time staple of the colorful garden, garden impatiens (Impatiens walleriana), will be less available this year due to impatiens downy mildew that is affecting this area and may continue to do so for the next seven to ten years.
 After the workshop, gardeners young and old will be treated to a tour of the train station gardens, meeting live costumed characters giving voices to their places in the garden. We will end the tour with a 'Garden Boogie' led by 'Kindersinger', Pam Minor. Please join us young and old for a great time!!
 Gunpowder Garden Club is a member of the Federated Garden Clubs of Maryland, District III and a member of the National Garden Clubs, Inc., Central Region, which provides education, resources, and national networking opportunities for its members as well as promoting the love of gardening and floral design.

 For more information, contact
> Elyssa Baxter,