By Brent Gray
Be on the lookout for azalea lacebugs, spider mites, and leaf miners. Lacebugs and spider mites suck sap from the underside of the leaves, causing the upper side to turn a mottled yellow; leaf miners make tunnels in the leaves, killing tissue as they feed. To learn how to manage and control infestations of these pests read the Extension publication 2369, Insect Pests of Perennial Plants in the Home Landscape. You can access it by going to the site: http://msucares.com/pubs/publications/p2369.pdf.
Popular as always, these annuals offer plenty of choices. In addition to the many colors available, you can choose either solid or white-centered blossoms; some selections have double flowers. The leaves may be solid green or banded with burgundy or white. Ger-aniums do best in a location that receives full sun in the morning and filtered sun the rest of the day. Even then, they may cease flowering temporarily when the temperatures climb above 90 degrees. Incorporate a slow-release fertilizer into the soil when you plant, and pinch the stems monthly to maintain a compact form. Re-moving faded flowers will keep the plant looking neat.
Cabbages should be making heads now. The head can be harvested at any time, but the best quality cabbage will have a head that is firm when squeezed. The outer leaves are edible but are very fibrous and strongly flavored.
Many tomatoes that were fortunate to be planted between rains are fruiting now. Examine the new fruit and see if there are distortions in the structure. Cold temperatures frequently in-terfere with pollination and the fruit is often misshaped. For reasons I can only attribute to folks who dislike cats this is called cat facing. Distorted fruit seldom develop into something you would like to eat, so remove them.
Strawberry harvest is stretching into late May since the temperatures have been so cool. Continue harvesting as long as the fruit quality remains good. Strawberries tend to get soft quickly once temperatures are consistently above eighty five degrees. Slugs have found several strawberry plantings in the state. There are commercial slug killers you can use around the garden. Be sure to read the label on all pesticides.
Start shopping for pumpkin seed now. The crops should be seeded by July 4 to meet fall decorating plans. Try one of the new powdery mildew resistant varieties.
Sweet corn has had a difficult spring. Seed planted now will not be ready for harvest until late July or August. Corn ear worm pressure is extreme at that time. Gardeners should make arrangements to have more than one type of insecticide to use to protect the ears.
Mowing at the right height and frequency is very important now. Keeping the one third rule will probably mean mowing more than once a week for actively growing bermudagrass lawns. If rains have prevented proper mowing intervals, take the grass down to the correct height gradually. The lawn should still be green after mowing.
Horticulture Tips – Lelia Kelly, David Nagel