Just came in from some much needed weeding. This time of year my garden usually gets completely out of control, when the heat and humidity arrive, I tend to stay in the shade. We had a lovely soaking rain all day Friday, which makes me jump for joy at this point in summer when we're typically having drought conditions. And the nights and mornings have been cool and pleasant, so I took advantage of it this morning. Giant ragweed had taken over a bed, a bed that I had weeded well 4 or 5 weeks ago, and many of them were already nearly 6' tall! Why can't flowers grow that fast? LOL
Weeds that thrive in hot humid weather are the bane to my existance! Crabgrass, ragweed, and polk weed have been the worst for me this year, but so far I've managed to get them out before going to seed, so maybe next year will be a little better.
On a positive note though, bugs haven't plagued the garden much this year (knocking on wood). Japanese beetles are typically out in droves in July here, but I've only seen one so far. I applied milky spore powder to the beds in spring '08, and have had no real issues with JBs since. However, I've heard from other folks in the area that they haven't had the usual problems with them either. I've also read some conflicting info about milky spore, some sources indicating that it continues to thrive and multiply in the soil, and spread to surrounding areas, others indicating that it must be re-applied from year to year. I haven't found grubs while digging since I applied it.
The past couple of years my Columbines were all devoured, I think by saw fly larvae (I never saw the culprit, just woke up to skeletal plants, and read reports of others blaming saw fly larvae for the same problem). I very rarely use any form of chemical, but that really was ticking me off, so I did resort to one application of Bayer systemic this spring. It seems to have done the job, the Columbines have been left alone, even by leaf minors! The bottle says it protects for up to 30 days. Since we've gone past that and the plants are still untouched, I wonder if the time of year of application was the key? A big question in my mind that has prevented me from using systemics much, is can it toxify the nectar of the blooms? When it's a plant that I'm hoping draws hummingbirds and/or butterflies, I can't stand the thought of killing the very insects I want to attract! Or bees either for that matter.
Something has devoured some common yellow Lysimachia, I just noticed today. It's a tough perennial that I got a start of from a neighbor, and has multiplied really fast (as Lysimachias tend to do). I've only used it in crappy areas where it's hard to get anything to grow, so I'm not concerned enough about them to consider spraying, but I am concerned about the culprits moving on to something more desirable.
My typical attitude about pests and pest prone plants, is if it can take it and survive and perform, fine- it can stay. But if a plant won't survive without constant spraying and attention.....well, it just won't survive. There's plenty of stuff out there that will grow in central Kentucky without chemical warfare, so I'll seek those out.
A friend has been using Rosemary infusion as a spray for insects on veggies, and has had great success. I pointed out some tobacco hornworm activity to him on his tomatoes, and we found 4 of the culprits. He tried various home remedy natural sprays on them (garlic, cayenne, hot sauce, Rosemary), and the one that worked immediately was the Rosemary in oil. We then fed the fat caterpillars to his chickens, they were thrilled with worms marinated in Rosemary oil, LOL.