Soils are warm enough now that tomatoes can benefit from mulching. Tomatoes prefer even levels of soil moisture and mulches provide such by preventing excessive evaporation. Other benefits of mulching include weed suppression, moderating soil temperatures and preventing the formation of a hard crust on the soil. Crusted soils restrict air movement into and out of the soil and slow the water infiltration rate. Hay and straw mulches are very popular for tomatoes but may contain weed or volunteer grain seeds. Grass clippings can also be used but should be applied as a relatively thin layer – only 2 to 3 inches thick. Clippings should also be dry as wet clipping can mold and become so hard that water can’t pass through. Also, do not use clippings from lawns that have been treated with a weed killer until some time has passed. With most types of weed killers, clippings from the fourth mowing after treatment may be used. If the lawn was treated with a product containing quinclorac (Drive), the clippings should not be used as mulch.
Control of prostrate spurge
Prostrate spurge is one of the more difficult broadleaf weeds to control. It is a summer annual that must come up from seed every year. If caught when young, it is easier, though still difficult, to control. Correct herbicide selection is important. Mature plants are almost impossible to control, even with selected herbicides. Several years ago K-State Research and Extension conducted a study on the phytotoxic effects of certain herbicides on buffalo grass. During the application, we noted the presence of a large number of small prostrate spurge plants. As the study progressed, plots were rated for percent control of spurge. The results were interesting. We found that Drive (quinclorac) provided more than 90 percent control. Until recently, Drive was only available to commercial applicators. Now homeowners have additional products that contain Drive. Those products are:
* Ortho Weed-B-Gon Max + Crabgrass Control,
* Bayer All-in-One Lawn Weed and Crabgrass Killer,
* Drive in Monterey Lawn and Garden Fertilome Weed Out with Q,
* Trimec Crabgrass Plus Lawn Weed Killer,
* Bonide Weed Beater Plus Crabgrass & Broadleaf Weed Killer,
* Spectracide Weed Stop for Lawns Plus Crabgrass Killer.
If you choose to use any of the above products, do not compost clippings or use them as mulch.
The quinclorac can harm certain broadleaf plants. Clippings should be either returned to the lawn or discarded. Dimension and Turflon Ester offered more than 80 percent control, and Trimec 78 percent. Dimension results were surprising because it is a pre-emergence herbicide with some post-emergence activity that is commonly used for crabgrass control. Turflon Ester should only be used on cool-season grass such as tall fescue and Kentucky bluegrass; not on warm-season grasses such as bermuda, zoysia or buffalo.
Page 2 of 2 - Aphids on Daylilies
We have seen beds of daylilies that have a very high aphid infestation at the base of the plants.
What is interesting is that there is also a large population of ladybug beetles and larvae. Most people are familiar with ladybug adults. However, ladybug larvae look very different from the adults and resemble very small alligator-shaped insects. The larvae are covered with spines, about three-eighths of an inch long, and black with orange markings. Neither the adults nor larvae will feed on the daylilies but rather on the aphids. Therefore, in our case, there is no need to control the aphids because the ladybugs will decimate the aphid population. Daylilies with browning foliage should be checked for aphids. If aphids are present, look for ladybugs. The presence of ladybugs means there is no need to try to control the aphids. The ladybugs will do that for you. Remember that drought can also cause daylily foliage to brown.
Watering Houseplants While on Vacation
We are approaching the time of year when many people take vacation. In the rush to get everything done before leaving, don't forget your houseplants will probably need watering while you are gone. The best alternative is to have someone water them for you. However, if this is not possible, there are alternatives.
1. Well-watered plants can be placed inside a plastic bag. Prop up the bag by using wooden dowels or something similar to keep the plastic off the leaves. Make sure the enclosed plants will not receive full sun as heat buildup may cook them. Bright, indirect light is best. Plants should keep for about a week with this method.
2. This method requires an old dish-drying rack, a bathtub in a bathroom with some natural light and some shoelaces. Place the drying rack upside down in the tub and add several inches of water. Push one end of a shoelace through a drainage hole on the bottom of a pot and into the potting soil of your houseplant. The other end of the shoelace dangles into the water. What you have made is a wick system that will replace water in the pot as the plant uses it. Plants can last a couple of weeks if you have enough natural light.
3. There are numerous commercial products that can be used to automatically water houseplants in your absence. The advantage of these products is that the houseplant does not normally need to be moved. All require a reservoir from which water is either siphoned or pumped to individual houseplants. Houseplants should last as long as the water holds out.