Slimy slugs

Laura Jesse, of Iowa State University Extension’s Plant & Insect Diagnostic Clinic, wrote the following about garden slugs:

 

Slug photo by Laura Jesse of ISU Extension

Slug photo by Laura Jesse of ISU Extension

    There seem to be plenty of slugs in my garden, but I hope not in yours. Slugs leave small, irregular holes all over the leaves of plants. They especially seem to like my hostas but they are not picky feeders. Slugs are difficult to detect because they feed only at night. Slugs look like snails without a shell. They vary in size from less than an inch up to 2 inches in length, grayish colored, and a bit slimy to the touch. In fact as they crawl along they leave a slime trail.

    Slugs need moisture to survive and are found under mulch, rocks, logs, and other damp locations. My hostas tend to be eaten because they grow in a garden that is shaded and holds the moisture longer.

    Reducing slug damage is not an easy task and nothing will fix holes already there, so your first question should be – how bad is this and can I live with the damage? If you do decide to try to reduce the slug population you should combine several tactics. First, remove mulch and reduce moisture from around the base of afflicted plants as much as possible. Remove slugs you find either by using a trap such as a board on the ground that slugs will gather under or pan traps with beer as a bait. I assume cheap beer works fine and would not waste expensive beer on this. Remove dead slugs daily or it will get pretty disgusting. Finally there are commercially available slug baits available containing a molluscicide, but they are best used in the spring or fall.

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Mini garden walk

The following is by Linn County Master Gardener, Claire Smith:

What a great idea, visiting other people’s gardens! Amazing!  Awesome!  (and, with planning) Affordable!    If you were gadding around and missed the Master Gardeners’ Garden Walk or if you didn’t take the plunge for the Pond Society tour, do make a concerted effort to mark your 2010 calendar to attend both! One of the stops incorporated all manner of garden art, mostly primitive farm equipment and several unusual birdhouses.  The other end of the spectrum was a beautiful English garden.  Ponds fed by babbling brooks created mesmerizing atmospheres. 

                My neighbors have even planned a mini-garden walk involving just a few families.  It’s an opportunity to get better acquainted with your neighbors and visit about something besides the weather.  It’s too late for a vegetable garden this summer, but there’s still time to start a flower garden involving the whole family.  My favorite daughter’s second garden is a family affair reaping benefits far out weighing the harvest of peas and pumpkins.   Charlie has beans on his beanstalk (Two year old Charlie planted a good share of an envelope of beans in one hill.)  Catie is planning on several jack-o-lanterns.    Daddy grills home grown potatoes, tomatoes and onions.  

The long range forecast for July is cooler and wetter weather so get in sync with Mother Nature and go for it.  New beds do need to be religiously watered this time of the year to establish root systems.  It’s okay to fertilize from now through the end of August.  Your new garden needn’t be huge.  It can be containers on the porch.  If the kids are still bugging about a pet, put in a pond and get some goldfish.  The fish we saw at the walks were huge and survived there through the winter.  Your water feature could be a whiskey barrel size container adjacent to the deck. 

Now is a good time, too, to do some rearranging.  We didn’t get the new strawberry bed organized quite soon enough this summer so I’m going to remove the weeds that have sprouted and cover the bed with mulch.  I’ll soon be transplanting several Iris and a few Hosta over to the seeder wagon area. Some of the Tiger Lilies are moving from the ditch there to surround the mailbox in the newest zeroscape area.  A horse ate the top off the sapling in that bed.   I’ll need to install a taller barrier than the garden gate that I thought was such a nifty idea.  Oh, well, the garden gate can become home to a climber in another location.  That’s the great thing about plants and gardens.  Nearly everything is portable and/or potable.

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Good vs. Evil: Asian lady beetles and Japanese beetles

Asian lady beetle

Asian lady beetle - a good bug (photo/Cindy Hadish)

Their names are similar and they’re from the same region of the world, so I can see why some people are still confused about Asian lady beetles and Japanese beetles.  But when it comes down to it, there’s really no comparison. The bug pictured here – the reddish/orange lady beetle, is a beneficial insect. It feeds on aphids and other plant pests and doesn’t destroy anything, though I realize some people resent their intrusion in homes in the fall. On the other hand, the copper-colored Japanese beetle, a recent foreign invader in Iowa, is known to devour at least 300 plants, including hollyhocks, roses, raspberries, linden trees and grapes. If you see your leaves turning to lace, the likely culprit is the Japanese beetle.  Japanese beetles have no known predators here, other than me. So feel free to get rid of as many as you can. As mentioned previously, the most environmentally friendly method is to knock them into a bucket of soapy water when they’re sluggish – early evening seems to be the best time. If you have other suggestions – maybe from our East Coast readers and others who have learned to cope with Japanese beetles – please add your comments below.

Japanese beetles (photo/Cindy Hadish)

Japanese beetles - not a good bug, or just plain evil? (photo/Cindy Hadish)

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Weeding Party!

Cheryl Hoech, volunteer coordinator for Friends of Noelridge Park Greenhouse and Botanical Center, sent the following:

We are having a party and you are invited.

What:Weeding in prep for the Open Garden on Wednesday

Who: 40 volunteer hours needed

When: Monday July 13, 8 to noon come and go as you please

Where:  At the demonstration flower beds at Noelridge

RSVP: Please let me know if you can come on Monday so I can have enough treats for all of you. Noelridge Friends can be reached at: noelridge@gmail.com

You can find more about Wednesday’s open gardens by clicking on the events category at the right.

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Sweet corn has arrived (sort of)

   It’s a mixed bag on Iowa’s sweet corn season. Some of the farmers I spoke to today have it ready, but the crop is delayed in other areas. If you’re early, you might find sweet corn at Saturday’s farmers market in Cedar Rapids. Expect to see more sweet corn at area farmers markets in the next week.

  You can find a list of many Eastern Iowa farmers markets on this blog by clicking on the farmers market category at the right.

   Bob Shepherd, market manager for the Washington Farmers Market, said vendor Tom Vittetoe sold out of a pickup of sweet corn in 20 minutes at Thursday night’s market.

    Bob sent the following report from the market in Washington:

    Ears of succulent fresh picked sweetcorn are one of the special events at the Farmers’ Market; along with strawberries, vine ripened tomatoes, and the first tree fruit  – nothing attracts attention like that first offering. Central Park will hum with the excitement generated by this Iowa treasure.

   The selection improves with each Thursday Evening Market. Expect to see beets, carrots, potatoes, cabbage, kohlrabi, green beans, onions, lettuce, peas, turnips, tomatoes, summer squash, cucumbers and chilies displayed by the local growers. Black raspberries and cherries have added their appeal as we anticipate the first apples shortly.    

   Farm fresh brown eggs have a definite ‘country’ appeal.

  An exceptional selection of fresh baked breads, pies, cookies, cupcakes, sweet rolls, bars, and short breads add their aromatic, mouth watering presence.

   The sound of a sharpening wheel means another fine tool has been keenly touched by John Moore, Bits ‘n’ Blades. Local artists display beautiful glazed ware, stitchery and jewelry.

  A couple of Markets ago samples of BB-Q’ed pork chops were tasted by Market goers. The rub used was a new technique and so successful the recipe is following for all to try on their home BB-Q.

                Cumin and Coriander spice-rubbed Pork Chops

Mix 1 Tbs. brown sugar, 2tsp. ground coriander, 2tsp. ground cumin, 1 1/2tsp. garlic powder, 1tsp sea salt, 3/4tsp. ground ginger, and 1/2 tsp. ground turmeric in a small bowl. Preheat grill to medium high. Lightly coat both sides of 6 3/4in. thick boneless pork loin chops with olive oil, and rub with the spice rub. Grill (uncovered for charcoal; covered for gas)until the pork forms impressive grill marks on one side, 2 to 3 minutes. Turn and continue to grill until meat is just firm to touch and just cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes, depending on thickness. Transfer to serving platter and let rest for 5 minutes.

   The thick style chops are a favorite to BB-Q and the rub makes them even more delectable.

   The Washington Farmers’ Market starts at 5pm but the downtown square is home to entertainment until 9pm. Thursday Night Live at 6:30 and the Washington Municipal Band at 8pm extend the evening enjoyment under the lofty trees of Central Park. Join us downtown………..see you there!

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The deadly juglone of black walnut trees

The following is by Linn County Master Gardener, Claire Smith:

    The seeder wagon is in place.  The lawn mower towed it out of the shed down to the water way and then with two planks and my favorite son’s strong back we pushed and pulled it to the other side of the ditch.  With the addition of an old wire garden gate staked behind a sapling, a hand pump from my parent’s former home and a rock lined pseudo fire pit filled with Petunias that were on the end-of-season sale, the area reflects the peaceful primitive atmosphere I was striving for.  This is the area I mentioned in an earlier blog that became inaccessible to mow due to last year’s flood.  Hosta, native grasses and prairie perennials will grace the space next year.  We continued our zeroscaping to include a part of the road ditch that I learned is also impossible to mow after the mower and I suffered a close encounter with the culvert.  Now that waterway is filled with large rocks and what was a sloping grassy space is mulched. 

            Hosta will ring the two Black Walnut trees in the roadway ditch.  Hosta is a plant of choice there because I have some that need transplanting and they are not sensitive to Juglone, a chemical secretion from Black Walnut Trees. 

             Discovered in the 1880s, Juglone is produced in the fruit, leaves, branches and root system of several trees with Black Walnuts exhibiting the highest concentration.  The greatest intensity in the soil exists within the tree’s drip line, on an average 50 ft. radius from the trunk of a mature tree.  Plants susceptible to Juglone display yellowing leaves, wilting and eventual death.  Plants sensitive to Juglone include Peonies, Hydrangea, Asian Lilies, and Lilacs.  There are multiple choices that will withstand close proximity to Walnut trees such as most grasses, Phlox, Sedum, Daylilies, Iris and Hosta.

            Now my challenge is to determine plants that are not only resistant to Juglone, but also to the deer population in this neighborhood.  Unfortunately, Hosta is one of the critters’ favorite choices.  They have already decimated the Hosta and Bee Balm in the ditch on the other side of the lane.  A great winter  pastime will be comparison shopping perennials and grasses that are both deer and Juglone resistant as well as low maintenance for those landscapes. 

             I actually enjoy mowing.  And I like the challenge of creating and maintaining flower beds, but the  simple clean lines of zeroscaping does appeal to me.  A few plants and shrubs easily embellish the area without overstating the purpose of low maintenance.

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Answers to your questions and what about those tiny worms??

Cyndi Lee asked the following: I have found a large trail of what at first looked like sawdust, but upon closer examination are very tiny worm like things. They are falling from the large tree I have which overhangs our deck. Any idea what these are? They are very tiny and are falling in clumps. They are a pale yellow in color.

 If you know what the worms might be, please leave a reply below.

 Linn County Master Gardeners have answered some of the other questions you’ve been asking:

 Q: We have a small vine-like weed that is taking over the gardens and flower beds. they are small leafed the stems are strong and grow upon the plants and choke them off. I pull them constantly but they continue to grow back. Is there anything that I can spray them with without killing off the flowers and garden plants? I would appreciate your input.

ANSWER: Cut and paint cut end with undiluted Round Up.  Use a small foam brush.

 Q: I found a large worm on my mom’s apple trees and what to know if they are good worm or bad. where can I take then to find out? I can take them to Ames but where in Ames?????

ANSWER: Bring sample to Linn County Extension Office, 3279 7th Ave., Marion.  We’ll try to identify it here, or give info to ISU.

 Q: I am in need of help to get rid of the seedlings from my pear tree. I need to know when and how to manage them as I have a flowerbed under my tree. I did not put these in but inherited them from the previous owner. They are a nightmare to deal with. Thank you for your help.

ANSWER: They will need to be pulled out.

 Q: I have a beautiful Walnut tree but it has been sprouting branches near its bottom and just does not look right. Can I prune them now ? If so what angle? And should I put something on the exposed ends? Some of the branches are approx. an inch in diameter. I surely don’t want to harm my tree!

ANSWER: The tree is under stress for some reason.  Prune now.  Do not paint anything on wound.  It will heal itself.

 Linn County Master Gardeners also answer questions on Iowa State University extension’s horticulture hotline at (319) 447-0647.

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