Western Mountains and High Plains

August, 2009
Regional Report

Mulch Tomato Plants

If you haven't already applied an organic mulch around the base of your tomato plants, now is the time to do so. Mulches will help to keep the maturing fruit from touching the bare, moist ground and this will prevent the rot spots on the bottom of the ripening fruit. Mulches will also keep the tomatoes clean and reduce the invasion of pests and diseases. A good mulch for tomatoes is clean straw or partially dried grass clippings.

Watch for Tobacco Budworms

Annual flowers including petunias, geraniums and nicotiana will stop blooming if they're attacked by tiny worms called tobacco budworms. The caterpillars will tunnel into the developing buds and leave an accumulation of black droppings on the lower foliage. One of the safest controls is to watch the plants carefully and hand-pick the culprits when spotted. Drop in a pail of soapy water.

Hose Down Evergreens

This is a good time to hose down foundation plantings of pfitzers, junipers, and other evergreens in your landscape. Use a forceful spray of water to knock off infestations of spider mites and get rid of the dead foliage. You can even mix up a homemade soap spray to cleanse the foliage of dust and other city particulate pollution.

Fertilize Annual Flowers

Give your annual flowers one last application of all-purpose 5-10-5 plant fertilizer to give them an added boost. They'll produce more blooms as the end of summer approaches and into the fall. If the soil has started to compact around the plants, get out the scuffle hoe and give the soil a light cultivation to allow better moisture penetration and oxygen to the root system.

Be on the Lookout for Squash Bugs

Check squash, pumpkins, and cucumbers for attacks from bugs that feed at the base of the plant. They can weaken the plant and reduce production. Look on the undersides of the leaves for masses of eggs laid in neat rows. If you find them, crush the eggs to prevent them from hatching. Young bugs may also be found at the base of the plant and they can damage the stems. Hand-picking is an effective control and drop the culprits in a bucket of dishwashing soap.

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