If you ever want to find out what is going on in the garden just drop by the local nursery and listen to the other customers talking about their gardens. Chances are that whatever your fellow gardeners are experiencing is also happening in your garden. Here are some hot topics I have heard the last couple of weeks.
MOSS- yup, this is shaping up to be a banner year for moss. I've got a bumper crop in my lawn, the flower beds and on my roof. All of these areas require a different approach to control. In the lawn iron sulfate works the best but be careful not to spread any onto your cement or you will end up with orange rust spots everywhere and they are darn hard to get rid of. On the roof or patio the best ingredient is zinc sulfate since it will not stain like iron. And in the flower beds I like to simply take my Hula Hoe and skin off the moss from the surface of the soil and then cultivate and add some compost. If you want to use just one product for everything then try Bonide Moss Max spray which is a potassium salt of a fatty acid and will not stain cement or damage plants. Whatever you end up using just remember that you will never eradicate moss. Just like horse tail, the game plan is to manage the pest and hope for the best.
TENT CATERPILLARS- all the scientific types have been predicting that we are due for a good infestation of these wriggly little critters and sure enough, in the last week I have had a dozen customers bring in baggies of newly hatched colonies of these caterpillars. There are several ways to manage them, one of which would have been to apply an oil spray back in February or March but alas, we have passed that opportunity so now we move onto other techniques. B.T and Spinosad (Bonide's 'Captain Jack's Deadbug Brew Concentrate) are two natural products that specifically attack caterpillars and don't harm beneficials. Pyrethrum is another botanical product that will work but if your trees are in bloom you DO NOT want to use a broad spectrum product that will also kill bees. Since tent caterpillars gather together in the evening it is relatively easy to cut out their tents and put them in a bag and stomp on them or use a propane torch and burn them or apply a pesticide directly to the tent. Even if you do nothing it is not the end of the world. Tent caterpillars will rarely kill a tree and they provide food for birds so there is no need to panic.
JAPANESE MAPLES- I mention these maples because they are stunning this time of year as the new growth emerges and with almost 100 varieties that we have to offer there is a Japanese Maple out there that would look lovely in your garden either planted in the ground or in a container. In my garden I have 7 different flavors, 4 of which are in containers and 3 permanently planted in the ground and I fully expect the Missus to find a couple more she can't live without this spring. The variation in leaf shape and color and growth habit and fall color is almost endless and if you would like to learn more about these colorful and easy to grow plants then join maple enthusiast Trevor Cameron this Saturday at 10am at the nursery for a lively discussion. Please call or email the nursery to reserve a place in the class.
Steve Smith is owner of Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville and can be reached at the nursery at 425-334-2002 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org