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Garden Gossip

April, 2021

Pruning

Are you wondering how to prune your muscadines? We have a video online by Dr. Arlie Powell that shows you just how to do that. Muscadine Pruning video.
A spray of Neem Oil and Captan fungicide should be used when small shoots are readily evident. This spray is to control aphids and fungal disease. Do not spray insecticides during the bloom period to protect pollinating insects.
While we are thinking about pruning Dr. Powell has an excellent video on pruning peach trees and stone fruit. Watch it here.
Fig 'Brown Turkey'-0

Fruit Plants

Figs are sprayed with wettable sulfur for a premature leaf drop problem. All your fruit plants should have already been fertilized. Fertilize blueberries, blackberries with Growers Special and peaches, plums, persimmons, pecans and pomegranates with Fruit, Citrus and Nut tree fertilize. This fertilizer contains all the micro nutrients the tree needs for a good fruit crop.

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.

Fire Blight

Fire blight is the enemy of apple and pear trees. Other plants that are susceptible to fire blight are; Serviceberry, Flowering Quince, Cotoneaster, Hawthorn, Loquat, Pyracantha, Spirea, Flowering almond, Plum and Cherry.

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. In advanced cases discolored oozing patches form on the branches. Fire Blight is easily spread by rain splashes, birds and insects. Gardeners can also spread the disease on infected gardening tools. Disinfect your tools with a 10% clorox solution when trimming infected trees. Dispose of infected plant material by burning or discarding in the trash.

Copper sprays are excellent for bacterial problems such as fire blight. Fire blight spray which contains streptomycin may be used also. Streptomycin should be sprayed about every 10 days during bloom to be effective. Streptomycin is no longer considered an organic spray. 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.

Corky Spots on Apples & Pears

Corky spots are areas of flesh from dime to quarter size just under the skin of the fruit on apples and often pears and quince. This condition which is caused by a boron deficiency and sometimes lack of calcium, results in fruits which are not very desirable for consumption. To produce fruits free of cork spots one of the better approaches is to apply calcium nitrate, super phosphate (if needed) and muriate of potash or sulfate of potash. Using calcium nitrate works well with pomme fruits because it supplies both the nitrogen and calcium and doesn’t lower the soil pH which should be maintained at 6 to 7. Dr. Powell adds 2 to 3 tablespoons of calcium nitrate per gallon to all the sprays he applies to the apples and pears.

Roses

If you haven’t had the chance to prune back 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 pruning add some 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. Fertilize them also when you are done pruning.

Fertilizing

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 sulfate 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.

Keep fertilizing your pansies. They should bloom until he last of April or first part of May depending on how hot the weather gets.

Blackberries

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.

Tomatoes

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 about 65 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 pepper, squash, cabbage and lettuce plants that are unusual varieties as well.

Containers and Annuals

The selection of bedding plants and container plants is very good right now. As the weather warms it will only get better. Time to start thinking about planting your containers and putting some summer color in the border.

Daylilies

Check your daylilies for aphids that often hide in the foliage. Spray with Neem oil if you have it or Malathion to rid the plants of these pests. If you use Neem oil it will also help with daylily rust (a fungus that damages the foliage). Daylilies benefit from a balanced fertilizer. I use Fertilome 12-6-6 on my daylilies. If you notice that you aren’t getting as many flowers as you did in the past, your daylilies may need to be divided. The best time to do this in the south is late summer.