Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

Middle South

August, 2010
Regional Report

Watch for Armyworms

More than the usual number of fall armyworm infestations have already been reported this year. Early detection is essential, so keep a close watch for these large caterpillars named for their habit of marching in troops and devouring everything in their path. The fall armyworm relishes a wide variety of garden vegetables, such as corn, beans, cabbage, and tomato, and can polish off a lawn in a single night.

Untangle Root-Bound Plants

When planting woody ornamentals, it's important to loosen the circling roots of pot-grown plants so they will grow out into the soil. If you can't tease the roots apart with your hands, use a water hose to spray some of the soil away and then uncoil the roots. If that effort else fails, make vertical slits in the root ball with a knife. New roots will grow from the cuts.

Leave the Limbs on Young Trees

Resist the urge to prune the lower branches from young trees, as they shade the trunk from sun scald, protect it from injury, and help the tree develop more quickly. Once the trunk is two or more inches thick, remove unwanted branches gradually, over a period of years.

Eradicate Established Poison Ivy

Immature poison ivy is relatively easy to kill in spring by spraying or brushing glyphosate (Roundup) on new foliage. Established plants, especially those growing up trees, are a different story. To eradicate mature plants, roots and all, garb yourself in protective clothing to pull the vine away from the tree. Then fill a large bucket with water and add the recommended amount of glyphosate. Put as much of the ivy in the bucket as you can and leave it for several days, allowing time for the ivy to carry the solution to its roots. This method can also be used on other hard-to-kill vines.

Maintain Wooden Tool Handles

Tools with wooden handles will last a lot longer and be more comfortable in your hand when they are kept clean and oiled. For a quick clean, wipe wooden handles with a soft cloth after every use. Then once a year, lightly sand and coat them with boiled linseed oil, applying a second application if the first soaks in completely. Finish with a quick buffing.


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