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Maddy: Garden musings

We have experienced something that hasn’t happened in several years, a wet June. Last year’s drought not only stressed out plants but also stressed out gardeners. Many gardens are lush and look great. With that in mind, we need to be on the lookout for water related issues.

If you like gardening without becoming a pin cushion for mosquitoes, keep an eye out for mosquito breeding grounds. Try to drain any containers that tend to hold water after a rain and if possible, clean the rain gutters out. These are prime breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Any container holding a teaspoon of water or more will increase the mosquito population.

Wet weather also encourages disease in the garden. Plant in open, sunny locations with good drainage. Plenty of air circulation encourages leaves to dry. Trellis tomatoes and cucumbers. Stake them well so they won’t fall and damage the plant.

Always select Southern adapted varieties that list the disease resistance on the plant or seed label. Rotate different crops with in the garden each year. Never plant tomatoes following peppers because they are in the same family and it will encourage disease. Rotate to different spots or different beds.

Limit the frequency of overhead irrigation. If possible, water the base of the plants and not the foliage. Wet foliage encourages disease. Drip irrigation works well. Don’t overwater. Each tomato plant needs only one gallon of water per week Keep track of the rainfall with a rain gage.

Mulch the base of plants to prevent excessive water evaporation and it will also lesson weed growth. Remove any dead or diseased leaves from the garden. Mow or weed eat the tall grass around the garden. They may harbor thrips which with their sucking mouth parts transmit disease.

If you have plants in containers, make sure they drain properly. Wet feet and plants do not make a healthy combination. If necessary, drill holes in the bottom of the container or around the bottom edge.

Curled leaf edges might be a symptom of lack of water but can also be a symptom of disease such tomato leaf curl. Curled or distorted leaves may also be a symptom of herbicide injury. Never spray 2,4-D containing products when the temperature is over 85 degrees. They volatilize very easily and the spray can drift. Any spray can drift in windy conditions as well. Be aware of spraying any product close to the garden.

Any time you see and egg mass on a leaf especially the underside, don’t hesitate to squash them. They are usually not beneficial insects.

Success in gardening is dependent many times on how observant the gardener is. An old adage is “The best fertilizer is the farmer’s own shadow.”

What’s going on in Extension?

Market on Main: Every Saturday at the AMC parking lot from 8 to 10 a.m. The freshest produce in Troup County.

July 17: Troup County Association of Beekeepers Meeting; 7 p.m. at the Ag Center; Topic: Pollinating Plants for Bees

Grassmasters Program:  If you are raising forages for sheep, goats, horses or cattle and want to improve your pastures and hay this class may be for you. Begins Aug. 31 and ends Oct. 26. This class will meet on Thursday evenings from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. for seven evenings. The cost is $25 per family. Call UGA Extension-Harris County to register. 706.628.4824 This is sponsored by Troup, Meriwether and Harris County Extension.

Brian Maddy is the ANR Agent for Troup County Extension. The Troup County Extension office is located at 114 Church Street, LaGrange, GA. 30240 (706) 883-1675. Monday – Friday/8 a.m. to noon and from 1 p.m. to 5 pm.