April Horticulture News Summer Pests, Soil Sampling
Healthy soil is the foundation of successful gardening. The first step to having healthy soil is conducting a soil test. Collecting soil samples only takes a few minutes and has many benefits. It can save you money in your landscape and can result in healthier plants by telling you which nutrients are already in your soil and which you need to add.
One of the most important things the soil test measures is soil pH, or how acidic or basic your soil is. Soil pH levels in NC range anywhere from 3.5 (very acidic) to 8.0 (basic) or higher. Most ornamental plants, vegetables, fruits, and lawns prefer to grow in soils where the pH is 5.5 to 6.5, though acid loving plants such as azaleas, camellias, and blueberries prefer a soil pH between 5.0 and 5.5. Soil testing is the only way to know if your soil is too acidic and if you need to add lime to raise pH. Many people apply lime incorrectly, which can raise soil pH too high, resulting in poor plant growth.
Soil test results will also tell you which nutrients you need to apply for the type of plants you are growing. If nutrients are needed, they can be supplied with either natural or synthetic fertilizers. Submit samples several weeks before you plan to plant. This allows plenty of time to receive results and amend the soil before planting. Soil samples can be submitted any time of the year.
Sampling is free from April 1 through November 30 each year. Soil sample kits may be picked up at the N.C. Cooperative Extension of Franklin County office, 103 S. Bickett Blvd., in Louisburg. For more information about horticulture contact Colby Griffin at 919-496-3344 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Homeowners may be able to use the recommendations from a previous year’s test to maintain their yards and gardens. Read more >>
If you notice a dark olive-green bug with speckles lurking around your home this spring it is probably the Kudzu Bug. Kudzu bugs are 4 to 6 mm long. They are “true bugs” meaning they have piercing-sucking mouthparts. Kudzu bugs are not a native insect having been introduced to the US from Asia in 2009.
Kudzu bugs feed on legumes – plants within the bean family, so soybeans and even wisteria are a delicacy. If you happen to live near a soybean field then you have an increased chance of spotting this insect. The flying adults congregate on the sides of homes and buildings as the weather warms in spring before their susceptible plant hosts are available to them. They will also congregate on homes and buildings during the fall as well as they move away from their plant hosts. As daytime temperatures and day length decline, kudzu bugs seek out protected areas where they can overwinter, such as beneath leaf litter and under rocks. They will find any small crevice around your home to seek shelter. This is also where they will lay eggs that will emerge next spring as adult kudzu bugs. As temperatures continue to warm during the spring they will migrate to their plant hosts. They are harmless to you but can be a nuisance around you home and garden.
Pesticides aren’t that effective at preventing kudzu bugs from gathering around your home. However, if you choose to use a pesticide be sure to follow the label and use as intended.
Read more >> Kudzu Bug – A Nuisance and Agricultural Pest >>
Pests and Disease of Summer Veggies
There isn’t much that can quite compare to the taste of home-grown vegetables. However, it takes time and dedication to achieve such a delicious bounty of produce. If you are an avid vegetable gardener then you know that growing vegetables isn’t just a stroll through the field and stumbling upon pungent peppers, scrumptious squash, or toothsome tomatoes. In addition to maintaining a steady supply of water and fertilizer there are many pests and diseases that can be the bane of any gardener’s existence.
Vegetables such as squash, zucchini, and cucumber all reside in the cucurbit family.
These vegetables have several pests and diseases that can otherwise burden healthy growth. One such pest that attacks squash and zucchini is the squash vine borer. Read more >>