Coastal and Tropical South

July, 2010
Regional Report

Leaf footed bugs

Their hind legs have broad, flat, leaf-shaped feet and most have a white mark on their back. They use a sharp beak to pierce many vegetables, but fly away when disturbed. They account for much undiagnosed damage and build their populations over the summer to become a large problem in some areas in fall. Control with pyrethrin and good sanitation. Grow sunflowers to attract them away from vegetables.

Mushroom dilemma

A wave of mushrooms in the lawn can mean one of several things. Old tree roots rot in the ground, providing perfect places for mushrooms to spawn. Low areas may stay wet or leaf covered much of the year, favoring fungi over lawn grass. "Fairy rings" of mushrooms may form in the lawn unexpectedly. In any case, your job is to shift the balance in favor of the grass by liming the affected areas.

Flooded figs

Summer 2010 and flash floods seem to go together. When fruit trees stand in water for even a few days, many will drop any fruit that is present. This happens as the tree shuts down systems extraneous to its survival in reaction to the stress of flooding. Figs will likely recover and may produce a second crop of fruit. Keep an eye on pomegranates and pears for leaf loss and prune the tree lightly to help it recover.

Fresh grounds

The best use of a tree that must be cut down is its return to the garden as organic matter. However, do not be quick to add the raw grinding to soil nor use it as mulch. Until it has decomposed for 6-8 months, this material will take nitrogen from the soil around plants. Pile the ground tree parts up into 3 cubic foot piles and turn each one monthly to speed the process.

Aphids abound

Tiny aphids no bigger than a pinhead can suck the life out of flowers from squash blossoms to rosebuds. Use a hand lens if necessary but look for them now that summer has boosted their populations. Blast aphids off of plants first with a strong stream of water, then use a pyrethrin spray as directed at 8 day intervals if the problem persists.

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