For most parts of the country, the greatest concern in August
is Water, Water, Water! While brown grass and drooping flowers
will readily get our attention, trees may suffer serious water
deprivation long before we notice. Some trees may even start to
show fall color early due to the hot dry weather. They are not
about to die, but some extra water now will help to assure their
continued health through the winter and into the next spring. An
application of Bradfield Organics® Luscious Lawn & Garden™ 3-1-5 right
now will help promote the soil microbial activity which will benefit
newly planted or young trees still struggling to get established.
Since trees significantly increase the overall value of your home,
it pays to spend a little time and attention on their care. Observing
the fall foliage can help you select the right trees for your landscape,
and Bradfield Organics can help you care for them.
Question: I think my trees are dying. All the
leaves are falling off. What can be done?
Answer: July and August are usually hot and dry
and are the time of year when most trees are likely to suffer water
deprivation stress, especially if they are young trees or were
planted that season. When trees are stressed from lack of water,
they go into dormancy and shed their leaves. The more shallow-rooted
the tree (e.g., young and newly planted trees), the more likely
it will be affected. There is nothing to be done now except water
the trees when rain is lacking. Be sure to deeply water; more established
trees have deep roots, and a little surface watering will not be
of much use to them. Applying Bradfield Organics® Luscious
Lawn & Garden™ 3-1-5 now
or any time this fall will certainly benefit the tree. Remember
Bradfield Organics® Luscious Lawn & Garden™ 3-1-5 stimulates
microbial activity and not chemical growth.
Question: When is a good time to cut dead limbs
from a tree?
Answer: Dead limbs can be cut from a tree any
time of the year. Large heavy limbs should be removed in sections,
starting with an undercut partway through the limb; otherwise the
weight of the limb coming off may result in torn bark on the living
portion of the tree. Any other pruning should stop around the end
of August to allow the tree to gradually prepare for dormancy.
Question: How can I keep grasshoppers from eating
my blue spruce?
Answer: “Grasshopper” has become
a catch-all name for members of the Locustidae family, which includes
locusts, grasshoppers, crickets and katydids. These insects are
extremely desctructive, and you are probably experiencing severe
overpopulation if they are going after blue spruce. Grasshoppers
have three life stages: egg, nymph (young adult), and adult. Control
methods vary with life stage. The most effective stage to control
is the nymph stage. Nosema locustae is a one-celled parasite,
usually mixed with bran meal, that can be applied directly to the
ground (this product is available at many garden stores and through
mail-order). It kills nymph-stage grasshoppers that ingest it and
continues to kill those that eat the dead, infected bodies. Depending
on the grasshopper specie, it may take only hours or several weeks
to be effective. For control of adult grasshoppers, chickens, guinea
hens and ducks are your best defense. They will happily consume
a grasshopper buffet all day long. Certain plants (horehound, cilantro
and calendula) repel grasshoppers and can be planted as barriers
around more vulnerable plants.
Question: The Japanese beetles are eating my
roses. What can I do?
Answer: The only organic product available is
called Neem Oil. It comes from the seed of the Neem tree in India.
It contains a compound called “azadirachtin” which
acts as an anti-feeding repellant (it is very bitter) and, if consumed,
can actually disrupt growth and sterilize some insect species.
It is non-toxic to mammals, birds and earthworms and can be sprayed
on all fruits and vegetables. Neem oil has a very low incidence
of side effects in non-target species that do not consume plants.
It acts as a control rather than a toxin, and because it degrades
rapidly in the environment, you must apply it often. You will need
a good organic surfactant to get the oil to emulsify with water
if you wish to spray it. You can also purchase ready-to-apply products
containing Neem oil.
Early fall is a good time to take a soil sample to an independent
laboratory focused on organic analysis. Click
here for a list of suggested labs.
For more information on organic fertilizing techniques, visit www.safelawns.org.
Early Spring, 2007