Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

Western Mountains and High Plains

August, 2009
Regional Report

Leaking Poplar Trees Not Uncommon

Cottonwood, aspen, and various poplar trees will often "bleed" liquid ooze from bark cracks and wounds. This is often associated with an infection of bacterial wetwood which is common in fast-growing trees. The oozing slime is a favorite food source for various flies and beetles. They are not tree borers, but are present to feed on the fermenting liquid. No controls are warranted.

Pincher Bugs on the Move

If your flowers are being eaten alive, don't just blame it on the slugs. It could be pincher bugs or earwigs. These insects are noted for their distinctive set of fierce-looking pinchers on the rear end. The pinchers are not for biting. Earwigs hide during the day and roam and eat at night. Common hiding places include underneath mulch, garden debris, in tree wounds, and behind loose boards. They are considered as beneficial insects since they are predators of many harmful insects. However, if large numbers of earwigs exist, they can cause damage by feeding on our flowers and flower buds. Organic gardeners can hand pick earwigs in late evening. Drop them in a pail of soapy water. Or use moistened, rolled up newspaper to trap earwigs. Collect the newspaper in the morning and dispose of it.

Get Grasshoppers While Theye Still Small

It's much easier to control grasshoppers while they're in their young stages of development. If you live in the country and want to get rid of the hoppers organically, raise guinea fowl, ducks, and geese because they love to feed on the invading pests. There are some biological controls (such as Nosema locustae) that are placed as bait around t he garden to ward off the invasion of grasshoppers.

Lawns Need TLC During Hot Weather

Don't let your bluegrass lawn become stressed by overwatering during hot weather conditions. Clay soils will hold moisture if watered deeply and infrequently. Avoid the urge to water daily since this can waterlog the soil and drive oxygen out. Mow the lawn at 2-1/2 to 3 inches to keep the soil cool and conserve water. Avoid high-nitrogen lawn fertilizers in the heat of summer. Use a lower analysis, slow-release lawn fertilizer and preferably one formulated for the region.

Keep Tomato Diseases and Pests at Bay

You can keep tomato leaf diseases in check if you apply an organic mulch at the base of your tomato plants. Also, avoid overhead sprinkling which is more likely to spread disease spores. Tomato insect pests such as aphids and whiteflies will suck plant juices while hornworms strip the plants of foliage. Soap sprays are effective against aphids and hand-pick the pesky hornworm offenders.


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