Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Keeping your fuchsia fabulous.


There’s nothing quite like a fuchsia hanging basket. The colors are incredible. Keeping your fuchsia hanging basket beautiful all summer long depends on the location of your hanging basket, watering, feeding and deadheading. Fuchsia need shade in order to thrive. They can handle early morning sun, but do best when they are in the shade all day. Watering fuchsia is fairly simple. They generally like to be kept evenly moist. Hanging baskets are especially prone to drying out quickly, so this time of the season, you should check your fuchsia hanging basket twice a day, once in early morning and again in early evening.
A simple way to see if your basket needs water is to lift it from underneath. If the basket feels light, it needs to be watered. If it feels heavy, it doesn’t need to be watered.  When you water, give your plant enough so that it starts to drain out the bottom.  Keep up with removing spent flowers on your fuchsia.  As soon as a blossom starts to fade, remove it so the plant can re-direct its energy toward producing blooms, not seed.
Feed your fuchsia every 10 days to 14 days with water-soluble Fertilome 20-20-20.  
Fuchsias are generally insect and disease free but can have problems with aphids, thrip and spider mites, especially this time of the season. Aphids will show up along the flower stem and the plant leaves will be sticky. Spider mite damage will show up on the leaves of your plant. Affected leaves will discolor and eventually fall off.
Apply Safer® Insect Killing Soap to control these insects. Thrip will also cause leaf and flower damage.
To control thrip, as well as aphids and other insects, use Bonide® Eight, which is a stronger insecticide. Another problem which may cause leaves to discolor and fall off is the disease called rust. If your plant has rust, the underside of the leaf will be orange colored.
Rust can be controlled with Bonide® Sulfur fungicide. Sometimes, leaves get old and drop off. It’s part of the process and there’s nothing wrong with your plant. If your fuchsia has a problem and you’re not sure what it is, bring us a sample. We’ll figure out what’s going on and help you find a solution.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

“My tomato flowers keep falling off. What can I do?”



A number of factors can cause your tomato plant to not set fruit, including water, temperature, poor pollination, fertilizer, not enough sunlight, stress from insects or diseases.  Recently, we’ve gone from warm and dry conditions to cool temperatures and rain, then back to warm and dry again. Fluctuations in the amount of water your tomato plant receives can cause a lot of problems, including blossom drop.
You may notice the new blossoms wither right on the vine. When you do water, irrigate your plants, don’t sprinkle them. You want to water at the base of the plant, not the top. If you can, water in the early morning so the plant doesn’t sit wet overnight. Take into account any rain fall we might have had as part of your plant's weekly water needs. It’s better to water less frequently and really soak the soil.
If you don’t have a lot of bees in your garden, you may have to be your own pollinator. Hand pollination will help your blossoms set and produce more tomatoes.
Simply take the flowering branch and give it a gentle shake. This will move the pollen and help the flower develop. Make sure your plants are receiving plenty of sun. If they get less than 6 hours of sun a day, they may not bloom.  
Go easy on the fertilizer. Too much Nitrogen (the first number on the package) can cause blossom drop. Steamed Bone meal is a great product to use now that your plants are flowering.
You can also use Fertilome Tomato and Pepper Set to help your tomato plants set fruit.
This is a natural plant hormone product that you spray directly on your tomato plant to help promote flowering, increase blossom set and increase fruit yield. Insect and disease problems will stress your tomato plant and reduce flowering and blossom set. Catching a problem early gives you the best chance of controlling bugs and disease and keeping your plant healthy.  If you’re not sure what the problem is, bring us a sample. We’ll figure what’s going on and help you decide the best solution.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Summer lawn care tips.


Two things to do to keep your lawn looking good this summer: mow more often and water less often.
First, set your mower as high as it will go and leave it there for the rest of the growing season. Next, mow your lawn more frequently. Follow the rule of thirds, that is mow often enough you that you take off about 1/3rd of the grass blade per mowing.  Keep your mower blade sharp and don’t mow when the grass is wet. You want as clean a cut as possible and wet grass and dull lawn mower blades tear and pull the grass rather than cutting it.  Change your mowing pattern every 2 weeks, so you don’t wear patterns into the lawn by mowing the same way every time.
Consider using a mulching mower instead of bagging your lawn clippings.
This helps return nutrients to the lawn and does not add to thatch problems.
When it comes to watering your lawn, it’s best to water early in the morning, after midnight and before 6 am or 7am. You want to run your water system for longer periods of time and do it less frequently. Watering the lawn daily makes the root systems lazy. Watering less often forces the grass roots to grow longer, looking for water. Stronger roots mean healthier grass and fewer weeds. 
Apply Revive® granular to your lawn at least once during the summer months. Revive® is a wetting agent so it helps water get deeper into the soil.
Along with Revive®, add some Natural Guard Soil Activator to your lawn. Humic acid applied now increases the organic material in your soil and encourages better root development.  Better roots means a good looking lawn, with fewer weeds and less disease.
 Sometime in late July or early August, fertilize your lawn with Fertilome’s Lawn Food Plus Iron. Doing these things will help your lawn stay healthy through the summer months.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

It's time to nip it in the budworm.

Keeping your beautiful geraniums healthy and blooming all summer requires more than water and fertilizer. You have to be on the lookout for bugs, especially this little guy. He can cause lots of problems for your hanging baskets and patio pots.  
The Tobacco Budworm starts to show up in your garden around this time of year.  
Signs that your plants have been attacked by budworm include tiny holes in the flower buds and small dark specks on the leaves and stems. 
The little dark specks are really the worm’s waste. The budworm caterpillars usually go after the geranium flower buds. The damaged buds won’t open and you notice your geranium has stopped blooming.
Sometimes there is a ragged look to the plant. If you can find them, pick them off by hand. Budworms blend in with the plant colors very well, so you have to look closely to find them. They like to hangout along the flower stems so follow the stem back from the damaged bud and often you’ll see them.  You can pick them off by hand and dispose of them. You can prune off any damaged flower buds you might find. You can spray the plant using a biological product called Bacillus Thuringiensis or simply BT.
You can buy BT in a concentrated form called Thuricide. You mix Thuricide according to directions and spray your plants thoroughly. It’s best to use all of the insecticide, because BT that been mixed with water does not store well.
If you don’t care to mix the concentrate, buy the ready-to-use product from Monterey. 
Dipel is a powder form of BT.  You can dust your plants to get rid of budworms.
Systemic insecticides such as this one from Hi-Yield can be applied directly to the soil and then watered in. Systemics  will help protect your plants for up to 8 weeks against chewing insects. Doing these things now, along with regular fertilizing and watering will help keep your geraniums blooming all season.