Thursday, May 20, 2010

Buckeye Lawn & Garden Website Offers Great Free Advice

Another great website listed on the right-hand side of this site is Buckeye Lawn & Garden. The website lists a weekly newsletter which is published every Thursday morning during growing season based on a Tuesday morning conference call on Ohio growing conditions, pests, diseases, etc. between OSU faculty, OSU Extension Educators and other contributors throughout Ohio. It specifically lists average soil temperature for Central Ohio and growing days, lawn care, flower care, tree and shrub care, posts pictures, etc. It also links to useful fact sheets published by OSU faculty and the Extension Service.

For instance, last week’s BLG newsletter contained the following useful information about why my zucchini always dies back in July:

D. WILT PREVENTION OF CUCURBITS AT PLANTING? Many growers have experienced wilting of cucumbers and zucchini in June or July. After vine crops begin to run, gardeners and farmers often notice individual leaves with severe wilt symptoms on sunny days. Within a week or two the condition spreads to entire vines which do not recover from the wilt. This disease, called bacterial wilt, is especially common with cantaloupes and cucumbers. Squash and pumpkins may not wilt as rapidly, but may be dwarfed with extensive blossoming and branching. Watermelons are rarely affected. This disease is caused by a bacterium (Erwinia tracheiphila) that overwinters in the odies of the striped and 12 spotted cucumber beetles. In the spring, the beetles merge from the ground and feed on young plants, introducing bacteria into the leaves or stems. The bacteria reproduce in the water conducting vessels, producing gums that interfere with water transport. The beetles and bacteria are so intimately related that controlling the beetles will control infection by the bacteria. Once infection has occurred, however, no control is possible and wilting plants should be removed, if practical. The disease is not seed borne.

The only practical management measure is to use an insecticide when seedlings first emerge to control the black and yellow cucumber beetles. Early infections are most severe, but total control depends on applications continuing at frequent intervals as allowed by the label on the insecticide during the growing season. In some cases, if insect pressure is heavy, it may be necessary to apply an insecticide when plants are just cracking the soil, but have not yet emerged. Management of this disease is completely linked with preventing feeding by cucumber beetles on susceptible hosts.

Two weeks ago, the BLG newsletter contained the following useful information about growing vegetables:

VEGETABLE - CARROTS (Daucus carrota). A great source of vitamin A can be planted in the vegetable garden now and harvested in 60-80 days. The most important factor to success with carrots is a loose, well-drained soil. Carrots are not happy if the soil is compacted, therefore, put a little extra time in prepping the soil for growth. In fact, carrots do quite well in containers or raised beds because of better soil quality. Another tip for great carrots is to make sure the crop gets ample moisture. Prolonged hot weather in later stages of development may retard growth and affect flavor; provide a consistent amount of moisture during the season. Carrots can be harvested as soon as they reach finger size; the smaller carrots are usually tender and juicer. Popular varieties (and maturity rate) include Red Cored Chantenay (70 days), Nantes Half Long (70 days), and Little Finger (65 days). Also try some of the interesting and different colors, shapes, and sizes of carrots including, Purple Dragon (purple), Rainbow Blend (all colors), and Thumbelina (small and round).

B. WARM SEASON VEGETABLES.Vegetables can be grouped into warm season and cool season crops. Warm-season vegetables require warm soil and air temperatures to germinate, grow and mature properly. They will not tolerate any frost and may be severely damaged by prolonged temperatures as much as 15 F above freezing. In Central Ohio, mid-May is normally considered "safe" to plant warm season vegetables. It might be one week early in Southern Ohio and one week later in Northern Ohio. Common examples of warm season vegetables are cucumber, eggplant, pepper, snap beans, squashes, sweet corn, and tomatoes. These plants can be transplanted around mid-May. The hope is that there will not be a last frost after May 15. Garden centers are well stocked with plants and seeds. It is time to purchase plants and seeds and get ready to plant!

For more information, see: OSU Vegetable Fact Sheets

C. CAN BLUEBERRIES BE SUCCESSFULLY GROWN IN HOME GARDENS? Blueberries are very tasty to just about everyone. A common question is, "Can I grow them successfully in my home garden?" The answer is, "it depends," which is a standard answer to nearly all of the questions that come to Extension offices. Blueberries require very acidic soil. The soil pH needs to be around 4.0-4.5. In addition, blueberries need an organic matter content of 4-7%. A soil test is needed to determine where the soil pH is. If soil pH is in the 4.0-4.5 range, blueberries can be planted. If soil pH is higher than 4.5, elemental sulfur or soil sulfur is needed to lower soil pH. This acidifying process can take up to 3 months. The answer is "yes" to blueberry growing in home gardens, if the gardener has acidic soil with high organic content in full sun, or is willing to lower soil pH by applying soil sulfur or elemental sulfur. Refer to OSU Extension Bulletin 949, "Midwest Home Fruit Production Guide," which can be purchased from OSU Extension offices throughout Ohio. Call to check on its availability. The bulletin is also available at OSU Extension's eStore at . The search word is "940."

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