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Monthly Garden Gossip

April, 2017

Welcome to our garden! We're proud of our hard work and want to share the reward with you, so here is what's going on in the garden this month..Central Alabama

If you check your parsley and find it has been eaten up and only the stem is left, check further you may be lucky enough to have the catepillar stage of the Eastern Black Swallowtail butterfly. The Eastern Swallowtail catepillar and the Monarch catepillar are often mistaken for each other. The best way to tell them apart is by the food they eat. Monarch catepillars will only host on and eat Butterfly weed (Asclepias). While the Eastern Swallowtail will host and eat only rue, carrot, dill, Queen Anne's lace and fennel members of the Apiacea family. Swallowtails will also host on citrus plants such as lemon, lime and orange trees. The food for the adult butterfly includes nectar from flowers including red clover, milkweed and thistles.

So put away that bottle of insecticide and enjoy the show.

Black Swallow Tail Catepillar

Black Swallowtail Butterfly

Bloom Sprays

Bloom sprays are used late February through early April. From first bloom until essentially all flowers have opened. One or two sprays are adequate. We use bloom sprays to control fungal and bacterial diseases. When applying copper be careful to use the recommended rates to avoid bloom damage. On peaches and plums apply 2 tablespoons per gallon of water at bud break. One tablespoon per gallon of water 2 weeks later. Then 1/2 tablespoon per gallon of water 2 weeks after the last spray through petal fall. Bloom sprays are for fungal problems such as brown rot may not be needed every year but are suggested if brown rot on fruit was severe the previous year. Suggested products are Hi-yield Captan, Hi Yield Vegetable, Flower, Fruit and Ornamental Fungicide (12.5% chlorothalonil )and Fruit Tree Vegetable, Ornamental Fungicide (29.6% chlorothalonil) You may also use Liquid Copper Fungicide and Liquid-Cop.

Cover Sprays

This spray begins at petal fall (nearly all flower petals have fallen.) and runs until 15 days before harvest. These sprays are used mainly to control insect and disease problems of the fruit. (especially plum curcullio which causes wormy fruit and brown rot which causes fruit rots). The first 2 to 3 sprays should be 7 to 10 days apart with later sprays up until near harvest 2 to 3 weeks apart. Suggested products are Hi Yield Captan Fungicide, Dusting/Wettable sulfur, Thiomyl. When using Thiomyl include Captan in the spray to reduce possible development of resistant strains of brown rot. For plum curculio and other insects, Mal-A Cide (50% malathion) or Bug Buster.The old fruit tree spray that contained Malathion and Captan is no longer available. However, the gardener can prepare the same spray by mixing per directions the captan and malathion together.

Do not spray insecticides during the bloom period to protect pollinating bees.

Fire Blight

Fire Blight is most often seen on apples and pears. It is caused by a bacteria that attacks the blossoms and moves up to the twigs and then the branches turning the blossoms brown and shriveling and blackening the twigs and branches. We did talk about this last month but it bears repeating since many of our apples and pears are in bloom right now. Fire blight can only be treated when the tree is in bloom. Copper sprays are excellent for bacterial problems such as fire blight. Fire blight spray which contains streptomycin may be used also. Spreptomycin should be sprayed about every 10 days during bloom to be effective. You may need to re-apply if there was a heavy rain.

For the organic gardener who wants to control Fire Blight without the use of antibiotics, Serenade is suggested. It contains Bacillis subtillis a soil dwelling bacterium that controls leaf blight, black mold, powdery mildew and many other diseases.

Fire Blight

All infected branches should be pruned about 8 inches below the effected area. They should be burned or placed in the trash never in the compost pile. Disinfect your tools after each cut with a 10% Clorox solution to reduce spreading the disease.


The blackberries are beginning to bloom. To control disease such as anthracnose, gray mold and to control the strawberry weevil, which cuts unopened fruit buds, we apply a spray of Neem Oil or spinosad. We usually do this just before flowering or when a few flowers are open.  Should you choose to spray after flowering has begun, it will be necessary to spray very late in the afternoon or early evening while the bees have ceased pollinating.  Malathion may be used in lieu of spinosad if needed.

Dr. Powell is also spraying the blackberries with F-Stop, myclobutanil is the active ingredient, for rust. This is also sprayed right before flowers open or when just a few have opened.

Blackberry Flowers
Now is a good time to divide your fall blooming perennials such as Mexican bush sage, Formosa lily and mums.  Divide your tall bearded iris, Louisiana iris and Siberian Iris after bloom.
Day Lily
Check your daylillies for aphids. Use Malathion to kill them immediately and then I use the Fertilome Rose and Flower food with the systemic insecticide in it to get the ones that will be coming back. You can also use Neem Oil it will control the aphids and help prevent the rust problem that some day lillies often have.

You don't have to settle for just the few varieties of tomato plants that are being offered by other nurseries and big box stores.We are offering 67 different varieties to choose from. There are heirlooms, yellow tomatoes, orange tomatoes, striped tomatoes and itty bitty ones that can be grown in a hanging basket. Surely there is one there that has your name on it.

There are also squash, cabbage and lettuce plants that are unusual varieties as well.

Daffodils Many of our daffodils and narcissus are finished blooming now.  Leave the foliage, do not braid or cut it off, since it makes the food for the bulb which produces next years flowers.  Divide if necessary and fertilize.    You can fertilize your hydrangeas this month after the last frost.  A safe bet would be April 20.  Use aluminum sulphate or camellia and azalea fertilizer on your French hydrangeas for blue blossoms and lime for pink ones. Azaleas, camellias, rhododendrons, laurel and gardenias also like this type of fertilizer.


Never got a chance to prune your repeat flowering roses!!! Just wait until they have finished flowering and then prune them. They have already set their buds. When you are finished fertilize. I use the Fertilome Rose food with the systemic insecticide in it. It will take care of aphids and other insects that might be eating your roses.

Your spring only flowering roses can be pruned when they are finished flowering. Fertilze them also when you are done pruning.


This lovely rose is Ducher

Herbs make great container plants. How handy is that to have all your herbs close by for easy use. Locate your container in a sunny location and fertilize and water weekly or when needed.
Are you thinking about some summer color for your perennial borders. Why not think zinnias, cosmos or sunflowers. The butterflies love the zinnias and the bees find the cosmos very attractive. The birds love the sunflower seeds. How can you go wrong with any of these. We are selling the seed by the teaspoon or tablespoon for $1.00 depending on the size of the seed. Zinnias