Control Squash Bugs
These dark, greenish gray, 1/2-inch-long bugs are often found on the undersides of cucumber, melon, squash, and pumpkin leaves. The young are lighter colored than the adults but still have the characteristic shield on their backs and emit a stinking odor when crushed. They suck plant juices from the stems and leaves and, if numbers are high enough, they can kill the plants. Control this pest by crushing the masses of shiny, brown eggs found on the undersides of leaves, or by picking and destroying the young or adults. The botanical insecticide, sabadilla dust, is effective against these pests.
Pamper Your Flowers
Flowers need loving care during their first weeks in the garden. If you pamper them now, you'll be rewarded with beautiful blooms in midsummer. To produce sturdy, vigorous plants, side-dress with compost or diluted fish emulsion. Pinch plants back when they're 5 to 6 inches tall to encourage compact, bushy growth and a large quantity of flowers. Water deeply once each week, and mulch the soil to suppress weeds.
Caring For Spring Bulbs
As the blooms fade on spring-flowering bulbs, cut off the flower stalks to prevent seed formation, but allow the foliage to remain. The health of this year's foliage will determine the amount of carbohydrates that will be stored in the bulb. These stored reserves determine the strength of the blooms for next spring's display. Some gardeners hide the foliage by interplanting with perennial and annual flowers. Plants such as candytuft and phlox can provide a colorful screen to mask fading bulb foliage.
Plant Tuberous Begonias
Transplant sprouted tuberous begonias into single pots or hanging baskets, covering the tubers with 2 inches of potting soil. Begonias prefer light shade so place them where they'll receive morning sunlight and afternoon shade. Keep the soil moist but not soggy, and feed every two weeks with a half-strength dilution of liquid fertilizer. No pinching or pruning is necessary; faded blooms will fall away on their own.
Watch Out for Poison Ivy and Poison Oak
"Leaves of three, let them be" is the old saying for identifying poison oak or ivy in your yard. These shiny leaves grow in groups of three and turn bright red in the fall. To remove the plants without getting the oil that causes an irritating itch all over your skin, wear long sleeves and gloves. Cut the vines down to soil level and water the area well; then dig out the roots by hand. After working with poison ivy or oak, wash exposed skin thoroughly with soap and cold water and remove and launder all clothing.