Winter Garden Prep Checklist

Posted by Green Acres Nursery & Supply on Nov 25, 2015 11:27:59 AM

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Winter Prep Checklist  

Top 5 Tasks for Winter Garden Care

 

As plants begin to prepare for dormancy, you may be tempted to head inside and hole up until spring. First, take some time to make sure your garden is ready to weather the cold months ahead. 

 

Frost Protection

  • Citrus, Avocados, Tropicals, Succulents and other tender plants will need to be protected with frost cloth when temperatures dip below 40°F. 
  • Frost cloth must reach all the way to the ground to help capture the radiated heat from the day. Click here to learn more about proper frost cloth application. 
  • Water plants before periods of freezing weather, except succulents which should be allowed to dry out. 
  • Spraying Bonide® Wilt Stop on the foliage can help protect plants from hard freezes. 
  • Stringing C7 or C9 Christmas lights around sensitive trees and shrubs to create heat is a great way to deter frost damage. 

Irrigation

  • Unless you have a smart timer like Hunter® Solar Sync, which automatically adjusts watering depending on climactic needs, you will need to reduce or turn off your controller as soon as temperatures drop.
  • Turn on/open sprinkler control valves.
  • Protect valves and exposed wiring with pipe wrap or valve covers. 

Drainage

  • Clear drainage systems and gutters of debris, and make sure they drain away from the foundation of your home.
  • Need to make some upgrades? You'll find a large selection of drainage supplies and pipe fittings in our Landscape Supply department. 

Plantings

  • New plantings will need to be protected from erosion due to heavy rainfall, apply a 2-3" layer of mulch. To prevent crown rot, be sure to keep the mulch 4-5" away from the base of the plant. 
  • Check the stakes on young trees and make sure they're still secure. 
  • Aerate your lawn. This helps with permeability when the rains come and gets much-needed oxygen to the roots. 

Azalea_Encore_Autumn_Belle-335971-edited.jpg

 

Have your Encore® Azaleas finished their second bloom of the year? Follow these steps to get them ready for another round of beautiful blooms in the spring:

  • Test the soil near your Azaleas, it should be slightly acidic (ideal range is between 4.5- 6). If you need to lower your pH, add E.B. Stone® Naturals Sul Po Mag.
  • A 2-3" layer of mulch is essential for insulating the roots in the cool months, and it adds nutrients as it breaks down. 

 

 

 

 

Pest Prevention

  • Now is the time to clean up and remove debris from around trees and shrubs. If the plant matter is disease and weed-free, be sure to add it to your compost pile. 
  • Keep an eye out for slugs and snails. Copper tape or Sluggo® are both great deterrents, but Sluggo® will need to be re-applied after rainfall. 
  • Pull weeds now, before heavy rainfall. If weeds are allowed to go to seed, the rain can spread them throughout the garden, causing problems next spring. 
  • When fruit trees go dormant, begin the first of three dormant sprays to kill overwintering insects and prevent diseases such as peach leaf curl, or shothole fungus on Carolina Cherry Laurel. 

Topics: Pest Prevention, Winter, Tips for Winter

Crop Rotation: What, Why & How

Posted by Green Acres Nursery & Supply on Nov 3, 2015 9:38:44 AM

Raised_Veggie_bed-152108-edited-274982-editedCrop rotation is a technique almost as old as agriculture. People have been doing it since before we understood the scientific reasons behind its benefits. Essentially, it is the practice of rotating which types of annual fruit & vegetable crops you plant in specific areas of your garden (not to be confused with companion planting, which involves planting certain crops alongside each other in a garden in order to enhance flavor, deter pests or provide shade or structure).

Two primary reasons people rotate crops:

  • To ensure the soil is not depleted of the same nutrients over and over again
  • To reduce the risk of pests/diseases of plants that are susceptible to the same pests/diseases

Nutrient Retention

In the wisdom of crop rotation, plants are lumped into four different categories depending on what they produce: fruit, leafy greens, root, and legume. These categories of plants uptake different levels of major nutrients, and if you plant a crop which is a heavy feeder of a specific nutrient in the same location year after year, your yield will eventually suffer. Fertalizer_NPK-01-542778-editedThe major plant nutrients that every plant needs to survive (the three numbers on the fertilizer box) are nitrogen, phosphorous & potassium, abbreviated by their elemental symbols as N-P-K. The numbers are listed in order of importance, meaning nitrogen is the most heavily utilized. This is why it's a good idea to alternately rotate all your planting areas with leguminous cover crops, which fix nitrogen from the atmosphere and enrich the soil.

Garden Tip: October is the last chance to plant cover crops in this climate. 

  • Leafy and fruiting crops are heavy feeders which use nitrogen rapidly
  • Root vegetables and herbs are light feeders
  • Legumes add nitrogen to the soil, but they deplete it of phosphorous

Knowing this, it would be wise to balance out the heavy feeders by following them with light feeders. It also makes sense to follow nitrogen-fixing legumes with crops which are heavy nitrogen feeders.

In one bed you might choose to grow tomatoes ---> beets, carrots & radishes ---> beans ---> lettuce, kale & spinach. That would be 2-year rotation where the first year you plant a heavy feeder in the summer, followed by a light feeder in the winter. Then, the following year you plant a nitrogen-fixing legume in the summer, followed by a heavy feeder in the winter. 

Pest Prevention

Plants in the same family tend to be susceptible to the same pests, so it's a good idea to know your plant families and avoid planting them in the same places too often. Here are some common crops grouped by their families:

  • Alliaceae
    Garlic, Onions
  • Apiaceae
    Carrots, Coriander, Dill, Fennel, Parsley, Parsnips
  • Brassicaceae (Cruciferae)
    Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Kale, Kohlrabi, Radishes, Turnips
  • Cucurbitaceae
    Cucumbers, Gourds, Melons, Pumpkins, Squash, Watermelons
  • Fabaceae (Leguminosae)
    Beans, Clover (cover crop), Peas
  • Poaceae 
    Corn, Oats, Wheat
  • Solanaceae
    Eggplant, Peppers, Potatoes, Tomatoes

If you grow both a summer and a winter vegetable garden, think about where you planted members of the same plant family last season, so you can avoid creating a pest paradise.

It is easiest to rotate your crops if you have multiple planting beds, but depending on space, this may not be possible. Four planting beds is ideal, because you will always have a place for one of the four crop categories (fruits, leafy greens, root vegetables and legumes) and you have plenty of room to separate the plant families which may share pesky pests. If you are limited on space, be sure that you are thoroughly amending your soil after each growing season, to improve structure, fertility and feed the micro-organisms which live there. 

Now that you know the basics, you're ready to plan your next veggie garden with crop rotation in mind! Take the time to learn about the vegetables you like to grow at home and be amazed to see your yields increase, diseases decrease and the health of your soil improve. Check out our vegetable planting calendar below to find out what you can grow now:

Veggie Calendar

Topics: Pest Prevention, Edibles, Organic, Veggies and Herbs, IPM

Pest Alert- The Bagrada Bug

Posted by Green Acres Nursery & Supply on Oct 5, 2015 9:10:52 AM

Bagrada bugs (Bagrada hilaris) are a type of stink bug and rapidly spreading invasive pests. They are native to Africa, and were most likely introduced to the U.S. via the Port of Long Beach in 2008. Since then, they've migrated eastward and have been found in Arizona, Nevada, and New Mexico.

bagrada_bug_distribution_map_large-551671-edited

Bagrada_Bug-903670-edited-458765-editedDescription: Bearing a strong resemblance to Harlequin Bugs, The Bagrada bug is only 1/3 to 1/4 of the size, with adults reaching 5-7mm. Nymphs start out small, round and red-colored, then black with red marking. Adults are shield-shaped and black, with symmetrical orange markings. 

Host Plants: Members of the mustard family Brassicaceae, including crops such as arugula, Asian greens, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, radish, cabbage and turnip. It has also been known to feed on grasses such as corn, and Bermuda grass as well as ornamental plants such as candytuft and sweet alyssum. It prefers to feed on brassicauceous weeds, and usually seeks out the plants listed above when the mustard weeds die back in late summer.

Damage: They have sucking mouth parts, which they use to pierce plant tissue. The resulting damage presents as discolored, irregular blotches on leaves and stems. They can also cause wilting, stunting, tip dieback and can kill seedlings. 

Control: Bagrada bugs, like other stink bugs, can be difficult to control by chemical methods alone. Insecticidal soaps can help suppress nymphs, while pyrethrin-based insecticides are somewhat effective at controlling adults. They are easier to eradicate if caught early, so monitoring is important. To prevent a possible infestation, clear your garden of weeds, especially those in the mustard family. They are heat-loving, so when monitoring for them be sure to inspect plants when temperatures are above 75°F. If found, hand-pick and destroy. 

Bagrada bugs have no natural enemies in this country, so they are spreading rampantly. The best way to control them is to practice IPM and keep a close eye on your garden for unfamiliar insects before the populations get out of hand. If you think you've identified this pest in a county where it was previously unreported, contact your local UC Cooperative Extension office. 

Intro to IPM

For more pest control tips, check out our 3 Part Pest SOS series.

For more information on the Bagrada bug, check out the UC Davis IPM Pest Notes

 

 

Topics: Pest Prevention

Pest SOS: 12 Most Common Summer Pests Part 3

Posted by Green Acres Nursery & Supply on Jul 31, 2015 6:09:51 PM

Pest SOS: Top 12 Summer Pests faced by Sacramento Gardeners
Part Three

Pest SOS: Part One  &  Pest SOS: Part Two 

Don't see what ails ye? Find more garden solutions in our blog:

Stink Bugs

Stink_bug_credit-765795-editedDescription: Approximately half-inch-long grayish brown shield-shaped bugs.

Damage: Stink bugs have sucking mouth parts which they use to feed on fruit, leaving indentations or discolored spots behind. 

Common Hosts: A large variety of fruits and vegetables. 

Prevention

  • Eliminate weeds- Stink bugs overwinter on weeds, so eliminating weeds in your landscape will eliminate their main food source in the winter and keep populations down. 

Control: Planting a variety of flowers which bloom during all seasons to help attract natural predators such as green lacewings, assassin bugs and damsel bugs. Chemical controls are generally not very effective against Stink Bugs. 


 

Whitefly

Description: Extremely small (~1mm) white flying insects. Whitefly_credit-849077-edited

Damage: Whiteflies have sucking mouth parts which they use to suck the juices out of a plant's foliage. Damage appears as many small pale-colored dots on the foliage known as 'stippling'. Occasionally leaves will look crisp or dried up, and may fall off completely. They also leave behind a sticky excrement which can cause sooty mold on the leaves.

Common Hosts: Almost all plants are susceptible, some species prefer specific hosts. They breed almost year-round in California. 

Prevention

  • Attract Benficials- Planting a variety of flowers which bloom at all times during the year will attract natural enemies of whiteflies, such as Ladybugs and Green Lacewings. 
  • Reflective Mulch- Whiteflies can become confused when plants are mulched with a reflective material. 

Control: Insecticidal soaps and Neem oil can be an effective method of smothering the insects to keep populations down, however it is difficult to completely eradicate whiteflies by this method alone. Sticky traps placed near the affected area can also help reduce populations, be sure to replace them often. 


 

Yellowjackets

Yellowjacket_credit-936077-editedDescription: Medium-sized flying insects with segmented torsos and yellow and black stripes. They are distinguished from bees by their aggressive behavior and hairless bodies. 

Damage: Yellowjackets, as well as many other species of social wasps, can be considered both a beneficial insect and a pest. If aggravated, they can sting people or animals. 

Common Hosts: In early summer, they usually seek out sources of protein and feed on other insects, making them beneficial. In the late summer, they are attracted to sugar and can become a nuisance by feeding on dropped fruit, picnics, pet food and trash cans.

Prevention

  • Sanitation- If you see a nest beginning to form, eliminate it with chemical sprays as soon as possible before it gets too large. Also clean up dropped fruit, seal trash cans to eliminate their food sources. 

Control: Pheremone-based traps are the most effective method against yellowjacket infestations. Be sure to replace the lure, and empty the traps frequently. Chemical sprays applied to the nests can be effective, but take caution to wear protective gear, as agitated wasps are particularly aggressive. 


 

Budworm

Description: Small (1mm-1cm) caterpillars, can be variable in color ranging from green to brown. Budworm_credit-999059-edited

Damage: Small holes in flower buds, occasionally tiny black excrement that resembles poppy seeds is present. 

Common Hosts: Geraniums, petunias and many agricultural crops such as tobacco and cotton. 

Prevention

  • Attract Beneficials- Natural predators of budworms include big-eyed bugs and several egg parasites are good methods of control. To keep them in your garden, practice IPM. 
  • Hand-picking- Budworms can be hard to control by chemical methods because they tend to hide inside the flower buds and be difficult to reach. 

Control: Bacillus thuringiensis or B.T. is a natural bacteria which is toxic to all types of caterpillars. Unfortunately, the caterpillars must consume it in order to perish, so the damage will continue for awhile after treatment. 

Want to learn more about seasonally relevant garden topics? 
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Topics: Pest Prevention, Beneficial Insects

Pest SOS: 12 Most Common Summer Pests Part 2

Posted by Green Acres Nursery & Supply on Jul 23, 2015 1:08:14 PM

Pest SOS: Top 12 Summer Pests faced by Sacramento Gardeners

Part Two

If you are battling pests in your garden this summer, check out part one of our Pest SOS series here.

Earwigs

Description: Approximately half inch dark brown/black bugs with a segmented torso and pinchers.Earwig_credit-927705-edited-999039-edited

Damage: Earwigs have chewing mouth parts which can cause irregular holes from feeding on soft new growth, seedlings and fruit. They also feed on other small, soft-bodied insects such as aphids, and can be considered a beneficial insect. 

Common Hosts: corn, berries, stone fruits, flowers, and the seedlings of all types of plants. 

Prevention:

  • Sanitation- Earwigs tend to congregate in cool, moist places during the day and come out to feed at night. Avoid creating a pleasant environment for them by cleaning up dropped fruit, eliminating debris piles and using a drip system rather than spray irrigation to eliminate excess moisture. 
  • Traps- Create a trap for earwigs using a rolled-up newspaper, placed low to the ground near the plants which are being damaged. In the morning, dump the earwigs which have congregated in the newspaper into a bucket of soapy water. 

Control: Baits such as Sluggo Plus are an effective method of control. Begin surrounding the host plants with bait as soon as the fruit begins to ripen, or just as the seedlings sprout. Reapply often for best results. 

 


 

Harlequin Bugs

Description: Harlequin bugs are a type of stink bug with a shield-shaped black body and red markings. 

Harlequin_credit-070357-editedDamage: All types of stink bugs have sucking mouth parts which they use to bite off plant tissue and suck out the juices, leaving discolored blotches behind. 

Common Hosts: All plants. They are especially fond of plants in the mustard family when other food sources are unavailable. 

Prevention: Eliminate Weeds. All stink bugs feed on weeds in the winter. Eliminating weeds as a food source will help keep populations down. 

Control: Stink bugs are hard to control, as most pesticides are not very effective against them. Most pest control programs recommend attracting natural predators to your garden, such as green lacewings, damsel bugs, assasin bugs, spiders and minute pirate bugs to name a few.

For more information on attracting beneficials to the garden...

Attracting Beneficials

 

 


 

Leafminer

Leafminer_credit-157112-edited

Description: Leafminer larvae are small yellowish maggots, the adults are striped black and yellow flies which resemble syrphid flies. 

Damage: Adults lay their eggs on the leaves, where they burrow under the surface and chew tunnels through the leaf tissue. The damage is usually superficial and rarely fatal to the plant. 

Common Hosts: Almost all plants, including many varieties of vegetables and flowers. 

Leafminer_damage_credit-202656-edited

 

 


Prevention

  • Cultural care- Keeping your plants healthy will prevent them from becoming stressed and exuding chemicals which attract opportunistic pests. Prune off any leaves which show leafminer damage to prevent them from spreading. 
  • Attracting Beneficials- Leafminers can usually be controlled by their natural predators, so planting a variety of flowers which bloom during all seasons to attract beneficial insects can be an effective method of prevention.

Control: Spraying plants with an organic spinosad-based insecticide such as Captain Jack's Dead Bug Brew is usually enough to deter them, and it is safe to use on edibles. 


 

Voles

Vole_credit-508197-editedDescription: Brown fuzzy rodents that resemble small rats. They breed profusely and populations will fluctuate cyclically, sometimes skyrocketing when conditions are favorable. 

Damage: Chewing on leaves and roots of herbaceous plants and the bark of trees. They can even 'girdle' a tree by chewing around the entire circumference of the trunk and preventing the flow of water and nutrients, killing the tree. 

Common Hosts: Grasses, herbaceous plants, woody plants, bulbs and tubers. 

 

 

Prevention:

  • Sanitation- By removing dense overgrown groundcovers, you eliminate some of their coverage forcing them out into the open where they are more exposed to predators.
  • Exclusion- Using chicken wire or metal fencing to keep them out of landscaped areas. They can still burrow in occasionally, but the fencing will help keep some out. Metal barriers are also a good way of protecting the lower trunk of trees or the roots of young plants. 

Control: Repellents such as Mole Max, when combined with the above methods of prevention, can be very effective. Burrow fumigants are usually not effective, as voles tend to create shallow tunnels with many entrances exposed to air. 

 

Topics: Pest Prevention, Beneficial Insects

Pest SOS: 12 Most Common Summer Pests Part 1

Posted by Green Acres Nursery & Supply on Jul 10, 2015 5:01:00 PM

Pest SOS: Top 12 Summer Pests faced by Sacramento Gardeners

Part One

In the summer, pests are prevalent. That's because plant stress, abundant food and favorable breeding conditions give pests the advantage over the plants in your garden. The best method of treatment is prevention. In this series you'll learn the 12 most common summer pests in gardens of the Sacramento area, and all of the information you need to combat them effectively.

To find out how to solve pest problems naturally, read Intro to IPM.

Intro to IPM

 

Leaffooted Bug

Leaffooted_bug_nymph-183562-edited-330750-editedDescription: Young insects are approximately half an inch long with a black head, antennae and legs and a reddish body. Adults are about one inch long with a grey-brown color and flared hind legs. 

Damage: Leaffooted Bugs have piercing and sucking mouth parts which they use to suck the juice out of leaves, shoots and fruits, leaving discolored indentations where they've fed. The damage inflicted is mostly cosmetic, it usually does not render the fruit inedible. 

Common Hosts: Tomatoes & Pomegranates

 

 

Prevention

Leaffooted_bug-436362-edited
  • Eliminate Weeds- Adult Leaffooted Bugs feed on weeds when their preferred host plants are not in season. 
  • Clean up Debris- Adults overwinter under bark, in woodpiles, dried fruit droppings etc. Keeping these areas cleaned up will help reduce populations. 
  • Attract Beneficial Insects- Planting a variety of flowers in your garden which bloom at all times of year will attract Predatory Wasps and Tachinid Flies- a Leaffooted Bugs natural enemies. 

Control:  Affected plants can be sprayed with pyrethrin-based insecticides which are safe to use on edibles such as Bonide® Eight

 


 

Aphids

Description: Very small soft-bodied insects which can be green, yellow, red, brown, white or black. The young look like small versions of the adults, but adults will occasionally have wings. 

Damage: Aphids have sucking mouth parts which they use to rob the plant of its juices. An individual Aphid does not cause noticeable damage, but they are extremely prolific and when there is an infestation they can cause significant stress to the plant. They also release a sticky excrement which can be a nuisance. 

Common Hosts: Almost every plant, they are especially fond of soft, flush new growth. aphids1

Prevention

  • Use Organics- Organic fertilizers promote slow, sustainable growth as opposed to synthetics which can cause plants to push a lot of rapid growth.
  • Attract Beneficials- Planting a variety of flowers to attract beneficial insects helps keep Aphid populations down by restoring the balance between the pest and it's natural enemies.
  • Control Ants- Ants and Aphids are often found together because Ants feed on the sticky excrement from the Aphids. If you don't take the time to attack both pests at once, they will likely return. 

Control: The trick to controlling Aphids is to be persistent. They reproduce asexually, so populations get very high very quickly. On annuals or perennials usually spraying them off with water is enough to keep them at bay. Otherwise, using Neem Oil or Insecticidal Soap is usually enough to deter them. The Neem Oil should not be applied when temperatures exceed 90° F, and both of these control methods require that the insect come in contact with them in order for it to be effective. If you are treating a large tree which cannot be sprayed, consider using a systemic drench such as Bayer® Tree & Shrub.


 

Ants

Description: Small to medium sized crawling insects with a segmented torso. Can be red, brown or black. 

Damage: Ants do no direct harm to plants, but they can protect Aphids and Scale from predators in order to consume their sugary excrement. They can also infest dropped fruit and become a nuisance. 

Common Hosts: They will nest in any soil type, especially dry areas. ants_with_aphids-1-934484-edited

Prevention

  • Sanitation- Cleaning up dropped fruit can help keep populations down. 
  • Exclusion- Sealing small cracks to your home with caulk can keep ants from getting in. 
  • Control Aphids- Where there are Ants their are usually Aphids and vice versa. See above on tips to control Aphids.
 

Control: It is impossible to completely eradicate Ant populations, but you can keep them out of your home and living areas if you are diligent in baiting and trapping them. Terro® Liquid Ant Baits are an effective bait, place them near trails and replace them often for best results.

 


 

Thrips

Description: Extremely small insects with long bodies, practically invisible to the eye. 

Damage: Thrips have sucking mouth parts which they use to suck the juices out of plants and leave tiny dots known as 'stippling' behind. They also can be identified because they leave behind black specks of excrement. They are rarely fatal to the plant, but the damage can be unsightly and they can spread plant diseases. Not all Thrips are plant-feeders, some are predatory and feed on other Thrips, so they can be considered a beneficial insect. 

Common Hosts: Almost every plant is susceptible, especially herbaceous plants and soft new growth. thrip_damage-1-999111-edited

 

Prevention

  • Attracting Beneficial Insects- Provide a variety of flowers which bloom throughout the year. Natural enemies of thrips include Green Lacewing, Minute Pirate Bug and even Predatory Thrips will all keep Plant-eating Thrip populations down. 
  • Use Organics- Thrips are most attracted to the lush new growth that is rapidly pushed by synthetic fertilizers. Organic fertilizers will keep plants healthy and give them the nutrients they need without pushing a lot of tender, susceptible growth. 

Control: Thrips can be very difficult to control due to the fact that by the time you notice the damage they are usually gone. However, if caught early, spinosad can be a very effective treatment. Try applying Captain Jack's Deadbug Brew, making sure to completely cover the foliage and the underside of the leaves too. 

 

 

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Topics: Pest Prevention, Beneficial Insects

Fireblight

Posted by Green Acres Nursery & Supply on Jun 12, 2015 12:26:00 PM

Fire_Blight_UC_DAVIS-372143-editedFireblight (Erwinia amylovora) is a bacterial infection that affects members of the Rosaceae family which produce a pome-type fruit, such as an apple.

It is favored by humid conditions and particularly prevalent this year because many trees are weakened due to drought stress. 

Fireblight is potentially fatal if the disease is allowed to spread too far, so the best treatment is prevention and early detection. 

 

 

 

Common Host Plants
  • Apple
  • Hawthorn
  • Pear 
  • Pyracantha
  • Quince 
  • Loquat
  • Cotoneaster
SymptomsBonidecopperfungicide

Infection usually becomes visible in the spring when young blossoms, branch tips and leaves wilt turning from brown to black. Sticky bacterial ooze might also be present on the branches from cankers.

Treatment

Remove any infected tissue 9-12 inches below the visible damage. Sterilize pruners with bleach or rubbing alcohol after each cut to avoid spreading the infection.  

Bonide® Copper Fungicide is the most effective chemical treatment to control the spread of the disease, though it cannot repair damage that has already occurred. The best method of application for trees is a tank sprayer, which will allow you to fully coat all of the branches and leaves with the fungicide. 

Tip: Fill the sprayer with half the warm water that is required for the application (based on package direction) and then the Bonide® Copper Fungicide, then the rest of the required water. This ensures that the fungicide becomes properly emulsified. 

 

 

 

To learn about how to control pests naturally in your garden, learn about Integrated Pest Management (IPM).

  Intro to IPM

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Topics: Pest Prevention, Organic

Intro to Integrated Pest Management

Posted by Green Acres Nursery & Supply on Oct 14, 2014 5:21:00 PM

What is IPM?

IPM is a system of long term preventative pest control techniques which affect only the targeted pest with minimal harm inflicted on the surrounding environment. IPM means:

  • Taking measures to encourage the health of your plants
  • Taking measures to avoid creating conditions which are favorable to pests
  • Closely monitoring your plants on a regular basis in order to prevent and catch pest problems before they get out of hand
  • Using less toxic control methods when necessary
ladybug

What is a Pest?

Any insect, fungus or animal which causes direct harm to your plants.

What is not a Pest?

Any organism that does not cause harm to your plants. Practicing IPM means seeing a bug you don’t recognize and thinking “Hmm, I wonder what that is, and what it does?”* instead of immediately reaching for the bug killer.

Encourage Healthy Plants

An unhealthy plant sends out chemical signals which attract insect pests directly to it. Step one of IPM is researching your plants, knowing what they need to be healthy, and setting up your garden so that each plant has the environmental conditions they need. Consult with the knowledgeable staff at Green Acres Nursery & Supply to learn more about what conditions your plants need to grow.


Avoid Creating a Pest Paradise

Just like learning what your plants need in order to thrive, it’s good to learn what environmental conditions the pests like- so you can avoid them! For example, over-watering your lawn can lead to fungal diseases and weeds. Experiment to see what the minimum water requirements are for your lawn, and cut down on excess water usage to address those problems.


Monitor Your Garden

The most important step in practicing IPM is careful monitoring. Catch small problems before they get too big, then you won’t have to resort to harsh methods of pest control. Ideally, you should take a walk around your garden every day just to check up on things. Once you spot something abnormal, take a sample or a picture into one of our three Green Acres Nursery & Supply locations for help identifying the potential problem.

Rose_with_Mantis

Less Toxic Methods of Control

Sometimes our best efforts may not be enough, calling for the application of one of the four control techniques. Use them to get your plants back on track, without throwing the ecosystem of your garden out of whack.

Biological Controls

For every insect pest which causes damage to your plant, there is a natural predator which attacks and destroys that insect pest. IPM encourages you to avoid using broad-spectrum insecticides, because you may kill just as many good bugs as bad bugs. Learn to identify beneficial insects and make your garden a welcoming environment for them by providing a variety of flowers as a food source.

Cultural Controls

Cultural control means changing your gardening practices if you find that you have accidentally created favorable conditions for pests. For example, if you have your rose bushes too close together, you may have fungal issues due to poor air circulation. The cultural control solution is to transplant them so they have enough space. Don’t be discouraged if you’ve made a mistake in your cultural practices. Gardening requires patience and a willingness to learn, and if you are practicing IPM you obviously have both.

Mechanical and Physical Controls

Mechanical and physical controls are the best way to directly kill or deter pests without using any kind of chemicals. They are usually only effective if you catch the pests early, so keep up with your monitoring! Examples of physical controls are spraying aphids with the hose, a thick layer of mulch to keep the weeds down and putting up nets to protect your harvest from the birds.

Chemcial Controls

When the pest problem becomes too severe to be remedied with the above methods alone, it’s time for chemical control. Choose pesticides with minimal residual impact on the environment, which target the pest you are combating specifically, and apply them sparingly to the affected plants. Always follow instructions of pesticide labels to avoid unintended contamination of air, soil or water sources. Keep in mind that even relatively less toxic sprays such as neem oil are indiscriminate, meaning they will kill any beneficial insects they touch as well as the insect pests.

For more information on Integrated Pest Management, check out UC Davis website: http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/

For help identifying unknown pests, please bring a picture or a sample into one of our three Green Acres locations, to our experts in the Garden Solutions Department.

Green Acres Website

Topics: Pest Prevention, Organic, Beneficial Insects

Sure-Fire Ways to Attack Summer Garden Pests

Posted by Green Acres Nursery & Supply on Jul 15, 2014 8:47:00 AM

With summer heat, comes fungus and pests. As long as you know what to look for, you can stop them in their tracks!

Water Stress - an Open Invitation to Pests and Disease

wilted flowerWhile there are many ways a plant can develop stress, water stress is one that comes on strong during drought. Minimal water can limit a plant's ability to photosynthesize, preventing strong growth and development.

And, while your intentions may be good, some watering practices during the heat lend themselves to mold and mildew generation.

Following our Watering 101 Guide will help you to determine the best methods to create a water-wise system for your plants. Consider plant type, soil type, plant size and location, and the season. 

Selecting plants that are ripe for your location, and water availability, is a critical step to growing a healthy garden. Talk with one of our garden gurus to ensure you have the right plants and the best irrigation for a water-wise set-up.

Fungus Frenzy

Fungus can come on quickly if the conditions are right. powdery mildew on strawberrySpores multiply and spread as temperatures turn from cool to warm and wet. Identifying and treating infestation is key to the survival of your plants.

Powdery Mildew is a fungus with which most of us are familiar.The white, powdery blotches damage the leaves, leaving the plant unable to produce growth, blooms and fruit with much vigor.Powdery Mildew fungi are host-specific; that means the Powdery Mildew on your roses will not move to your grapes. 

Grey Mold is a grey mold on strawberryfungus that primarily arrects wounded plants. Too much moisture is one of the main causes of Grey Mold.a fungus that primarily affects wounded plants. The moldy spots can appear on the leaves, stems and buds.

3 Conditions Every Fungus Loves:

  • High humidity during twilight hours
  • Temperatures between 60 and 80 degrees
  • Poor air circulation

rake garden 6 Tips to Control Fungus:drip irrigation 18
  •  Water early morning
  •  Avoid overhead watering
  •  Space plants apart for good 
     air circulation
  •  Clear away leaf litter
  •  Check plants regularly for signs
     of infection
  •  Spray with preventative sprays

 

Foraging Critters

While so many insects are barely visible to the naked eye, the damage they do is oh so obvious. Aphids, spider mites, and thrips all feed on plants by puncturing the surface and sucking the sap. Plant growth is stunted as a result, and fruits and flowers are less abundant.

thrips
  • Aphids are particularly fond of new growth. They multiply quickly but the damage the do is slow-moving which makes them
    easy to control.
  • Spider Mites are evident when the leaves show yellowing in very
    small dots. Extreme infestation will be obvious with webs cast around the damaged parts of the plant.
  • Thrips (photo right) in the Sacramento area love a tasty Rose bud. They enjoy the petals before the bloom opens. Although, they will dine on vegetables and herbaceous plants as well.

How about the more visible critters? Grasshoppers, caterpillars and hornworms work diligently to chew through quickly.

  • Grasshoppers ravenously chew on trees, shrubs and just abouttomato hornworm1 
    everything growing. Two things they do not like are tomatoes
    and carrots.
  • Caterpillars enjoy a diverse diet of plants, fruit and nectar.
  • Hornworms love tomatoes, peppers and potatoes. They typically eat the top of the plant at night and the underside during the day.

So Chew on This...

There are simple, safe nursery products for controlling diseases and insects quickly. Check out four tried and true products from Bonide® and Monterey: 

  1. Captain Jack's DeadBug Brew
    Stops foraging immediately; kills in one to two days; doesn't harm most beneficial insects and is for organic gardening. Perfect for fruit, veggies and herbs.
  2. Eight
    One of few pesticides to control grasshoppers; kills and repels for up to 30 days; use most anywhere for any bug - even on your edibles.
  3. Bon-Neem
    Insecticide, miticide and fungicide; kills on contact; use on edibles, roses, flowers, houseplants and more.
  4. Liquid Copper Fungicide
    For organic gardening; prevents Powdery Mildew, Grey Mold and more; can be used on a wide variety of plants.
  5. Monterey Take Down Spray
    A natural insecticide and miticide with pyrethrin effective in treating aphids, mealy bugs, caterpillars and more. 


Watering 101
                                            

Topics: Pest Prevention, Waterwise, Sacramento Low Water Plants, Low Water Plants, Beneficial Insects

Peach Leaf Curl - The Fungus Among Us

Posted by Green Acres Nursery & Supply on Dec 26, 2013 10:18:00 AM

Why talk about peaches and nectarines this time of the year?  After all, there aren't leaves on the tree!  
 
Yes, the trees are dormant. But, now's the time to start a dormant spray program to prevent peach leaf curl fungus (Taphrina deformans). The fungal spores start germinating during periods of cool weather and rainfall.

peach leaf curl 2 resized 600

How does Peach Leaf Curl (PLC) Affect Peaches and Nectarines?

The fungus affects blossoms, fruit, leaves, shoots of peaches and nectarines. PLC reduces fruit production and puts trees in stress mode. Affected leaves fall off of tree causing sun scald injury and an invitation to peach twig borers, which can eventually kill the tree.

peach leaf curl resized 600

Signs of Peach Leaf Curl

Infected trees start to show signs on the leaves about two weeks after the tree starts leafing out late winter and spring.  Infected leaves emerge deformed and have patches of different colors, ranging from light green to yellow to shades of red. The colored areas of the leaves tend to thicken. As the leaves mature, they develop spores that turn the leaves gray before they shrivel and finally drop from the tree. It is crucial to pick up spore laden leaves from the ground to help prevent future infestations. New twigs produced by the tree can become distorted and die. If left untreated, the fungus can cause the tree to produce less fruit, (fruit can be distorted too), the tree becomes stressed, and eventually may die.

How to control Peach Leaf Curl

 

Monterey_Liqui_cop.jpgA good fungus prevention program starts around Thanksgiving. Your trees should be sprayed a minimum of three times. For easy reference, the best times to spray are: late fall – around Thanksgiving; midwinter – around New Year's Day; early spring – around Valentine's Day. Use Copper Fungicidal Liqui-Cop Spray for best results. Be sure to shake well before use. Follow label directions and be sure the trees are sprayed to the point of runoff or until all the twigs are dripping. Make sure to spray the entire trunk too! This spray can be used on other fruit trees, citrus, and ornamentals to control a number of fungal problems.  

Monterey Horticultural Oil-1.jpgAnother tip: add Horticulture Spray Oil to the mixture. The spray oil not only makes the copper more effective, it also helps control insects by suffocating egg cases laid earlier by aphids, mites and scale insects. 

 

Dormant Spray Guide

Spraying your peaches and nectarines during dormant season will ensure a healthy tree and a bountiful harvest of fresh fruit for years to come! 

You might be wondering what other plants can be treated in the winter to reduce the risk of pests and diseases come spring. How about that sticky sap under your Crape Myrtles?  The sticky substance is known as Honeydew, a secretion from aphids which can easily be prevented with a dormant spray program. Check with one of our nursery experts for specific information about which plants can be treated with dormant sprays, and the best options for your individual landscape. 

bonide_liquid_copper.pngDon't worry if you missed the window to apply dormant sprays! Bonide Copper Fungicide is still an effective treatment for PLC that can be used even after your tree begin to break dormancy.  

Topics: Pest Prevention, Edibles, Fruit Trees

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