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Defend your garden’s bounty with baby powder, onion spray

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By Cheryl Steenerson

Happy June. I think I squeezed every minute out of May. I didn’t get everything done, but I never do. For some reason, I keep thinking of new projects as I play in the garden. I did get some new trees in the ground to add a little color to the front yard. The next step is to landscape the front of the house. Oh boy!
I still have some plantings to do in the garden, but then all I have left is the mulching. Mulching with newspaper and straw around the garden plants keeps the weeds down and moisture in the soil. That saves me tons of time. I use some of that time to admire the place that I am in.
I recently had a conference call meeting from my home. I literally sat in the front yard looking out over the hay fields and woods. I watched my neighbor cut the hay field, row after row, transforming the field to a manicured lawn. In the field above, the cattle lazed and grazed. I snapped a picture with my phone and sent it to the Louisville office with the words, “My seat at the table.” I couldn’t resist.
I’ve been checking my evergreens and trees for bagworms, but haven’t found many this year. I like that! All I have to do is hand pick them off. If you have an infestation, then find some Dipel or Thuricide to spray as a biological control.
Rumor has it, and I can confirm it, the flea beetles are out in droves! The leaves on my potatoes look like they have been shot full of tiny holes. The flea beetles are very tiny bugs with big hind legs (so they can jump high) and they can be black, brown or metallic -blue in color.
I use sprinkled baby powder on the leaves. It’s my version of Seven Dust. I also use my smelly onion and garlic spray. Keep in mind that heavy dew and rain will create the need to reapply or spray regularly. The bugs don’t just leave your garden. They’re like the mail man, they keep coming back to check. So use protection!
If you haven’t gotten your garden in yet, don’t fret. There is still time, but you better hurry if you want to pick by September. June is also the time to start planting the fall pumpkin and winter squash seeds as well. We now have three full months of hot weather to look forward to. I can hear my friend Tara groaning right now. Some folks love the heat, some love the cold. Variety is the spice of life!
With all this beautiful warmth, we need the clouds to gather and drop some wet, on a weekly basis. I have three weather sites that I visit on the Internet: Wunderground, NOAA and Accuweather. I watch the radar, the high and low pressure systems, and above all I watch the jet stream. That is what moves the weather. They say the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. I believe the jet stream is the tool used to do just that.
Those of you who don’t watch the weather so closely may want to depend on Mother Nature to give you a clue. Besides dark clouds moving in to give you a hint, you can also look at the flowers and dew and spiders and flies and cows in the field. Here are some tips to give you hope for rain within a few minutes or hours.
Dandelions will close their blooms before a rain. Spiders won’t make webs that day. Flies will swarm windows and flat surfaces and cows lay down in the fields in the day. Ben Franklin, or Poor Richard if you like, had a saying about the dew. “Three days dewless be, twill rain you’re sure to see.”
We need an inch of rain a week for the garden and the landscape to grow. If we don’t get the rain, then use the hose once a week for a deep soak. Frequent brief, shallow waterings with the hose only develops shallow roots. This is Anderson County. We need deep roots and strong ties for all living things to be healthy.
Now, today is World Environment Day. Find a way to strengthen your ties with the earth and develop healthy relationships with creatures from all walks of life. A front porch swing with a great view, a good friend and a bowl of fresh strawberries fits the bill. Put a smile on your face and a song in your heart, because .... you are still here, and I for one am very grateful. Happy Growing!

Cheryl Steenerson is the gardening columnist for The Anderson News. She can be reached via e-mail at paysteen@shelbybb.net.