New England

April, 2012
Regional Report

Control Lawn Grubs without Chemicals

A healthy lawn can tolerate a moderate level of feeding by grubs, so keeping your turf grass robust with sustainable practices that focus on healthy soil will help keep grub damage below the threshold where treatment is needed. Enriching the soil with organic matter and avoiding the use of chemical pesticides and herbicides will encourage the thriving populations of soil organisms that help keep grub numbers in check in the soil ecosystem. Milky spore disease powder, a microbial insecticide for the control of Japanese beetle grubs, has not been shown to afford very effective control in colder northern soils. Beneficial nematodes offer more promise, but need to be selected and used properly. Contact your local Extension Service for more information on the nematodes species to use and the timing and method of application for best grub control in your area.

Use Correct Timing When Using Pesticides to Treat for Grubs

If you're considering treating your lawn with a pesticide to control white grubs, be sure you are using the right product at the right time. In the spring, you may see lawn damage from creatures like skunks digging up turf to reach grubs, but the almost full-size grubs present now feed for just 4-6 weeks and are usually too mature to be controlled effectively with pesticides at this time. Grub control pesticides work best against small, newly hatched grubs, so the time to apply them in our region is in August to September. Applying these types of pesticides in spring will have little to no effect. Before putting down a summer treatment, roll back a square foot of turf in several spots in your lawn and count the number of grubs you see. If you find fewer than 8-10 grubs per square foot, you don't need to treat your lawn. If you do decide to treat, be sure to read pesticide labels carefully and follow all instructions and precautions. Consult your local Extension Service for information on the most appropriate products and timing for your area.

Divide Perennials

Mature perennials that are bare in the center, no longer bloom well, or are taking up too much territory, as well as those you wish to propagate, are all candidates for division. Spring is a good time to divide most perennials, when the new growth is 4-6 inches tall. Some perennials with taproots or woody roots, such as goat's beard (Aruncus), globe thistle (Echinops), and snakeroot (Actaea or Cimicifuga), do best if divided even before the top growth emerges.

Sow Sweet Pea Seeds Early

Sow seeds of cool weather-loving sweet peas directly in the garden six weeks before your last frost date. Soak the seeds overnight prior to planting. For even earlier blooms, seeds can be started in peat pots four to six weeks before planting out. Well hardened-off seedlings are tolerant of light frost and can go in the ground a couple of weeks before your last frost date. When plants are 6-8 inches tall, pinch them to encourage denser growth, which will result in more flowers. Be sure to give sweet pea vines a support to climb up.

Plant Arugula for an Early Greens Harvest

Fast growing, cold tolerant arugula is one of the earliest greens ready for harvest. Sow seeds in the garden as soon as the soil can be worked in the spring and begin picking tender, 2-3 inch baby leaves in about a month. Make repeat sowings every couple of weeks for a steady supply of the piquant leaves. The white or yellow arugula flowers are edible, with a mild flavor, and can add interest and color to your salads.

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