Saturday, November 15, 2008

June in the Garden

Well I have stopped praying for rain. And then I think back to the drought a few years ago and refrain from asking for the rain to stop, if we truly get what we ask for I had better think very hard before I make my next wish. The good news is that this wet spring has extended the bloom time of many plants this season, giving us a wonderful display of Iris germanica, Rhododendron and Syringa (Lilacs) among others. But it has caused some late season bloomers to “sleep in” and many shrubs like Clethra, Hydrangea and Itea may be just leafing now. If you haven’t seen any signs of life, I would give those plants one more week to before proclaiming them garden casualties.  

Poison Ivy (Toxicodendron radicans) has also been thriving in this weather, so keep an eye out it can act like a vine or ground cover and I have seen it cropping up all over Dedham. When in doubt remember, “Leaflets three, let it be” it is not always tinged with red and if you have had bad reactions to it in the past, consider hiring a professional to help you eradicate the Poison Ivy. Things to keep in mind while dealing with Poison Ivy: Every part of the Poison Ivy plant is toxic, bruising of the plant releases an oil called “Urushiol” and individuals have varying reactions to this toxin. This oil persists in dormant and dead plants so protect yourself by wearing gloves, a long sleeve shirt and long pants (tuck your sleeves into your gloves and your pants into your socks) and be sure to thoroughly wash all your clothing and tools when you are done! Do not burn this plant the toxin can be inhaled! If you touch Poison Ivy by accident, wash the area immediately with soap and COLD water (warm water may open up your pores and allow the oil to penetrate your skin faster). Consult a physician if the reaction is severe. At this time of year herbicides are your best option for killing/controlling Poison Ivy, look for herbicides containing glyphosate or triclopyr and be sure to follow the directions carefully, repeat applications will almost certainly be necessary. There is a silly but helpful website with lots of images and helpful information.

Lawns grow so fast in this wet weather, and at times it may seem hard to keep up with mowing. When this happens don’t be tempted to mow the grass to its ideal length all at once or you will stress the grass blades. Keep in mind the 1/3 rule, cut no more than 1/3 of the blade of grass in a single mowing, wait a few days and repeat until you get your lawn back to the desired length.
After harvesting your spring lettuces and radishes, Plant fall harvest crops such as beans, turnips, late cabbage and Brussel Sprouts. It is also a good time to mulch your garden to help keep the weeds down and the moisture levels up (not that moisture is a problem this year!).
The Red Lily Beetle is active and laying eggs. This beetle eats the leaves of all true lilies (Lilium spp) and Frittillaria, and they can decimate those plants. They do not eat Day Lilies (Hemerocallis spp). You can easily hand remove the bright red beetles from the Lilly leaves and dispose of them, but also check under the leaves for the slug like egg masses and remove those as well.

Thank you to everyone who has sent in ‘Questions for Cory’, keep those great questions coming. I will try my best to answer those questions here.

Q. I read in your article about the “Invasive Plants” which we are not supposed to use in Massachusetts anymore, but I still see Barberry for sale at some Nurseries. Are they selling these plants illegally?

A. No, but that is a good question and I get asked about his new ban often so I think it will take a while for everyone to get used to these new restrictions. To reiterate, the Department of Agricultural Resources enacted the Massachusetts Prohibited Plants ban January 1, 2006. This ban includes 140 plants considered “Invasive or Noxious” in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and it prohibits the sale or importation of those 140 plants. However, there are some “phase-out” caveats for some of the more prodigious plants like Barberry (Berberis thunbergii), in this case Barberry can be imported into Massachusetts until July 1, 2006 and if it is already being propagated in this state, those specimen can be sold until January 1, 2009. This does not guarantee that you the consumer will be able to find these plants through 2008; I am very interested to see how quickly our local nurseries sell off their existing stock, how this is managed and what happens to demand. But enough of my musings: For more information and a complete list of the 140 plants on the Massachusetts Prohibited Plant List visit the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources Web site

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