New England

August, 2010
Regional Report

Keep an Eye Out for Aphids

The melon aphid is a pest of cucumbers, melons and squash that can also infest peppers and eggplant. In hot, dry weather its numbers can build up rapidly, so check the undersides of leaves for these soft bodied, light green (or less commonly, white, yellow or dark green), pear shaped, sucking insects. Knock them off with a strong stream of water from a hose; control severe infestations with sprays of insecticidal soap.

Cut Back Faded Flower Stalks

Cut back the spent flower stalks of delphiniums, globe thistle, salvia, Shasta daises and dayliles to their base once bloom is finished. Leave any new basal foliage that has emerged.

Control Magnolia Scale

The popular star magnolia (Magnolia stellata) and saucer magnolia (Magnolia x soulangiana) are both susceptible to magnolia scale. The adult female scales look like shiny, brown bumps up to 1/2 inch in diameter scattered on the branches. Under its protective shell, the insect feeds by sucking out the plant's juices. While this weakens the plant and can lead to branches and even the entire tree dying, the most noticeable symptom at first is often black sooty mold covering the tree that grows in the sugary honeydew secreted by the scales.

The best time to control magnolia scale is when the mobile crawler stage is active. The adult females lay eggs in early June that hatch out in late August in our region. Control the newly hatched crawlers with a spray of insecticidal soap or horticultural oil in late August or early September, making a repeat application 10-14 days later. Because the crawlers are only vulnerable until they settle down and cover themselves with a protective shell, timing of sprays is critical. For the most accurate timing information for your area, contact your local Cooperative Extension Service or Master Gardeners program. It may also be helpful to spray trees with dormant oil in March before the buds open to smother overwintering insects.

Sow Some More Herbs

Sow seeds now for a late summer or early fall crop of dill and cilantro. For best flavor, harvest the leaves in the morning after dew on them has dried, but before the heat of the day.

Pick Cantaloupes at their Ripest

Pick melons at the peak of their ripeness for the best flavor. Cantaloupes are ready when when the rind under the netting changes from green to tan and the netting itself becomes more pronounced. The stem should start to "slip' or separate from the fruit if you lift the melon and pull gently on the stem. The melon will also have a nice aroma and the blossom end will have a little give when you press on it.

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