Watch for the Lily Leaf Beetle
Keep an eye out for the bright red lily leaf beetle adults emerging from the soil around the new shoots of lily foliage. Check plants regularly and handpick the slow-moving beetles before they have a chance to lay eggs. The beetles drop from the plants when disturbed, so if you spread a piece of an old sheet below your lily before you go beetle hunting, it will be easy to see and squash these pests after they drop. If you're diligent at this time of year, you can prevent an infestation of the slimy, disgusting looking, and voracious larvae later in the season.
Foil Cutworms with Collars
Cutworms are fat, greenish-gray caterpillars that come out at night and chew through the stems of young seedlings right at the soil line. You'll find them curled up in the soil during the day. Protect vulnerable transplants by putting cutworm collars in place at planting time. I usually wrap the stems in multiple layers of newspaper. You can also make collars from old tuna fish cans, aluminum foil, cardboard, or small yogurt containers. Make sure the collars extend into the soil about an inch and rise a few inches above the soil surface.
Set Broccoli and Cabbage Transplants Deep
Start seeds of cabbage and broccoli for summer harvest about 6-8 weeks before your last spring frost date and set out hardened off seedlings a couple weeks before the frost date. When you plant the young seedlings in the ground, set them deeper than they were growing in the pot, so the soil level is just below the first set of leaves. And don't forget those cutworm collars! Try to locate plants in a new section of the garden on a three year rotation to help prevent disease problems.
Plant certified disease-free potatoes two or three weeks before your last spring frost date. By the time the foliage emerges, the danger of frost should be past. But be prepared to cover the young plants if freezing temperatures are in the forecast, as the foliage is not frost tolerant. If you plant whole seed potatoes about the size of an egg, rather than chunks of larger potatoes, you're likely to have fewer problems with rotting before sprouting.
Remove Winter Tree Trunk Wrapping
If you wrapped the trunks of young trees to guard against sunscald and frost cracking over the winter, now is the time to remove that protection. If left in place, these covering can trap heat, causing injury to the bark.