Western Mountains and High Plains

May, 2012
Regional Report

Add Water-Absorbing Soil Amendments to Containers

If you's like to cut back on your container watering chores, add water-absorbing soil amendments to the growing mix at planting time. These polymers are very effective in increasing the water-holding capacity of a potting mixture. When hydrated, the granules look like chunks of gelatin about a half inch in diameter. Read and follow label directions for the specific polymer that you select.

Prevent Aspen Leaf Diseases

To prevent leaf diseases on aspens, practice good sanitation by cleaning up last year's fallen leaves and other plant debris around the base of the trees. Dispose of promptly. Disease spores can carry over year after year and will splash up or be carried by the wind to reinfect the young leaves.

Use Row Covers for Pest Control

Flea beetles will soon be on the move, attacking radishes, turnips, spinach, and other leafy vegetables in the home vegetable garden. These insect pests riddle the foliage with holes overnight. An effective way to reduce damage from flea beetles without chemical sprays is to cover plants with floating row covers. This material is especially effective in excluding these tiny pests, but be sure the row cover fabric is securely anchored to the ground so the beetles can sneak in.

Don't Bring White Flies Home

When shopping for annual bedding plants, be sure to check the undersides of the leaves and along the stems for evidence of white flies. Impatiens, geraniums, fuchsias, tomatoes, peppers, and basil, are frequently infested with white flies. It won't take long for these pests to find their way to other plants in your garden. If you see plants that are under attack by bugs, pass them up and pick out healthy ones.

Remove Tree Wraps

If you haven't removed the tree wrap from the trunks of young trees, take time to do it now. If tree wrap is left on throughout the summer, it's a great place for some insects to set up housekeeping. Disease spores can find the perfect environment to start growing underneath the tree wrap. Bark needs exposure to sunlight and air circulation to stay healthy.

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