Mid-Atlantic

May, 2003
Regional Report

Exclude Squash Beetles

Outsmart cucumber beetles by blocking access to your plants. Cover cukes and squashes at planting time with a floating row cover to keep the beetles out. Use a summer-weight cover designed for warm weather, and make sure to remove it daily when the plants bloom to allow for pollination, or else hand pollinate your crop.

Give Peppers the Heat They Need

Peppers need sunshine and warmth, meaning warm soil and warm nights (lows in the 50s) to grow well. If planted too early, they sulk and fail to thrive, the foliage may yellow, and leaves and early flowers may fall off. A sheltered location, quicker-to-warm raised beds, and floating row cover/night time frost blankets can help keep them snug and warm until the weather settles.

Control Black Spot

Use products containing sulfur to control black spot on roses (read and follow the label instructions carefully), or try one containing the plant-based insecticide neem. Or, try a homemade spray containing one part milk and two to three parts water. A baking soda-based spray, while potentially helpful especially as a preventive, may burn the foliage on some sensitive roses. Always test spray a few leaves several days before spraying the whole plant with anything.

Start Compost

It\'s never too early to begin accumulating materials for the compost heap, pile, or bin. Pulled weeds (seed free, please) and grass clippings (herbicide free, please) can be tossed in along with the trimmings and gleanings from spring cleanup and any autumn leaves you saved last fall. Smaller particles will compost faster, so shred or chop larger stems, if possible.

Be Prepared for Slug Attacks

Slugs work at night, leaving a trail of slug slime at the scene of the crime: devoured hosta foliage or seedlings. Lightly rake mulched areas to disturb them, hand pick them at night, use beer-baited traps, encircle your plants with a sprinkling of diatomaceous earth, or try one of the new iron phosphate-based products.

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