New England

June, 2009
Regional Report

Watch for Tomato Hornworms

Keep an eye out for tomato hornworms on tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and potatoes. These large, green caterpillars feed voraciously on the leaves and fruits and can cause serious damage in just one day. The caterpillars are easily controlled by hand-picking. However, if you see white, egg-shaped sacs on the hornworm's body, don't kill them. The caterpillar is being parasitized by a tiny wasp, which will kill the caterpillar and help control these pests.

Control Rose Slugs

Rose slugs are pale green worms that skeletonize rose leaves. If you see dried patches on rose foliage, examine the undersides of the leaves. Rose slugs are the larvae of sawflies. To control them, hose off foliage in the morning, concentrating on the undersides of the leaves. (Don't wet foliage at night or you'll encourage disease problems.) Natural enemies often keep them in check; if infestation is severe, spray the undersides of the leaves with insecticidal soap.

Include Some Foliage Plants

There are some exciting new -- and not-so-new -- annual foliage plants available. Varieties with dark foliage combine well with light-colored flowers, as well as bold reds and chartreuse. Those with silvery foliage look great with jewel-tone flowers. Plant fuzzy-leaved varieties where you can reach to caress them and enjoy their irresistible texture. Coleus foliage is so colorful it can stand on its own.

Harvest Frequently

You may know that removing spent blooms keeps annual flowers blooming longer. A similar concept holds true for fruiting crops. By harvesting peas, beans, and cucumbers frequently, you'll signal the plant to continue producing. However, if you allow one monster cucumber to fully mature, the plant will have fulfilled its destiny -- to produce mature seeds -- and will begin to die back. So harvest daily, freezing or giving away excess, rather than letting it remain on the plants.

Leave Clippings

Mow your lawn frequently so you're removing just an inch or two off the height, then leave the grass clippings right on the lawn. As the clippings decompose, they'll release nutrients back into the soil. Clippings don't cause thatch -- that's a different problem. If there are large clumps of clippings that threaten to smother the grass underneath, rake them out to scatter them or gather them up for the compost bin.

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