New plant tag could be a referral discount for you!
plant-tagIf you have taken advantage of my spring planting service, you may have noticed the new plant tag and stake in your planters this year. In previous years, the tags frequently blew away in the wind, so I've amended the stake to include little silver spirals on either side of the tag. The tag is split, like a bread-bag tie, so you can just pull it off. This way, when your friends are admiring your pretty flowers, it is easy for you to give them my name and number and you'll earn a $25 referral bonus, too!

I'm still planting all this week and next so if I haven't made it to your house yet, please be patient! I'll be there soon! If you're not on my schedule, but you'd like to get plants put in -- please contact me right away.

By the way, if you've misplaced your instruction manual for the hose-end timer, you can find programming instructions on my website.

Now, on to this year's newsletter series: "Insects: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly."

The Good: Big-eye Bugs

This tiny 1/8” oblong bug is aptly named for its wide-set bulging eyes.  It is usually gray, brown or black; adults have clear wings.  These bugs can live 3-4 months and hunt their prey on plants and on the soil surface; they then stab and suck out the insides, leaving only the exoskeleton behind. The big-eye bug is helpful in controlling aphids, caterpillars, flea beetles, spider mites, thrips, whiteflies and more.

In this photo, the helpful big-eye bug is feasting on aphids.

The Bad: Thrips
Nearly microscopic, thrips rasp or scratch leaf tissue and drink the plant’s juice; heavy infestations can cause leaves and flowers to fail to open, appearing twisted or stuck together and discolored.  These common greenhouse pests breed rapidly so always inspect plants before purchasing. Thrips are very hard to see on the plants so look for their damage or gently shake the plant over a piece of paper and then inspect the paper for moving specks.  Interestingly enough, thrips are attracted to white and pink flowers, especially gladiolus and peonies.

Thrips have a multitude of natural predators. If the damage is significant, try controlling them with horticultural soap or oil. If you must resort to pesticide, don't use the same chemical twice in a row -- thrips quickly develop resistance to pesticides.

The Ugly: Slugs

Really a mollusk (not an insect) like a snail without a shell, slugs can be brown, gray or black and have a slimy coating. Attracted to the scent of decaying plant matter, they tend to feed at night or on overcast rainy days. Slugs can chew through your plants amazingly quickly. Diatomaceous earth sprinkled on the soil around your plants will discourage slugs. If a pond is nearby, frogs, toads and salamanders may eat these pests. You can also set beer or vegetable traps or hand-pick the slugs early in the morning and drop them into a dish of soapy or salty water.

If you're really interested in bugs, here are a few good resources:
  • "Insect." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 27 Apr. 2013. Web. 29 Apr. 2013.
  • Walliser, Jessica. Good Bug, Bad Bug: Who's Who, What They Do, and How to Manage Them Organically: All You Need to Know about the Insects in Your Garden. Pittsburgh, PA: St. Lynn's, 2008. Print.
  • Sunset Western Garden Book. Menlo Park, CA: Lane, 1988. Print.
  • Leatherman, David, and Whitney Cranshaw. Insects and Diseases of Woody Plants of the Central Rockies. [Fort Collins, Colo.]: Colorado State University Cooperative Extension, 2000. Print.