It's Time to ...

Posted: July 14, 2012

Squish the squash vine borer. The borer appears in late June/early July when the moths emerge from their cocoon stage in the ground. Although the adult squash borer is a moth, it looks more like a wasp; it has an orange body, black spots, and two sets of wings, one metallic green and one transparent. If you notice these insects circling around your summer and winter squash and pumpkin patch during the daytime, be assured that damage will follow. After mating, the moth lays its eggs at the base of the stem. In one week, they hatch into larvae that bore into the vine, blocking water from going up the stem and causing wilt. After feeding on the inside of the stem for four to six weeks, they leave the stem and burrow into the ground, remaining there until the following year. Once the plant is infected, you can try to rid the vine of the borer by running a razor up the stem and picking the insects out and killing them. Mound the soil up over the wounded area and water the plant thoroughly. If vines have already wilted and the stem is mushy, pull the vines and kill the borer that is inside the stem (that way, the borer won't make an escape during the pullout). You can replant in the same spot up to the second or third week of July because the adult moth will no longer be active. http://www.extension.umn.edu/distribution/horticulture/M1209.html

Conserve to preserve. Conserve water resources by not watering the lawn — this will also help to preserve it for the long run. Grasses have an amazing ability to go into dormancy during hot, dry periods, remaining viable without water to their roots for three to four weeks; after that, they need to be watered to survive. If you water after a long drought, don't be surprised when the lawn fails to green up. It will hold that water in reserve in the roots till the weather is more conducive to new top green growth. Although a brown lawn may look less desirable, it is at rest. Don't even mow — and foot traffic should be kept to a minimum. because this, too, can affect the overall survivability of the lawn. For information about different grasses, go to www.greenyour.com/home/lawn-garden/lawn/tips/plant-the-right-grass-for-your-climate.

Still time to top up. If you didn't put a nice layer of mulch on your flower containers earlier in the season, do it now. Spread an inch of fine mulch on top on the surface; it'll dress up the containers and help even out temperature fluctuations in the soil. Mulch also helps retain moisture. Triple ground hardwood and licorice root are ideal finishing materials for this project. For more info on licorice root: http://www.ehow.com/list_7208094_licorice-root-mulch-characteristics.html. For more on hardwood: http://www.ehow.com/facts_5748167_difference-between-mulch-hardwood_.html.

Measure an inch. Water stress is at the top of the list of reasons that young trees don't make it. They need one inch of water a week, and here's an easy way to make sure they get it: Ten gallons of water equals about one inch of soil moisture, so take two five-gallon containers and drill holes in the bottom. Set the containers on either side of the tree, fill with water and let it slowly seep into the root zone. Repeat once a week until measurable rain falls.

Pile it on. If your roses are repeat bloomers, give them some extra food by adding compost to the beds. Your roses will be healthier and they'll bloom continuously. Make sure to water, too. Saturate the soil around the base of the plant to ensure good penetration.

Eva Monheim is a certified arborist, master floral designer, and full-time lecturer in horticulture at Temple University Ambler; she is also an instructor at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square. Contact her at emonheim@temple.edu.

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