Avant Garden

Kathy6Wow, what a year we’ve had so far. More sun than rain which means more time to spend outdoors in our beautiful gardens. Now that most of the labor intensive work getting the plants in the ground is almost over we can start focusing on enhancing our outdoor spaces with eye catching and unique garden décor. I find nothing more uplifting and gratifying than relaxing in my own outdoor oasis filled with endless colors and textures. Todays’ gardens are all about personalizing your private outdoor abode with adornments of all kinds. There are some things like furniture and umbrellas that are a must in our garden space and then there are other things like outdoor wall art, solar art, statuary or unique pottery that really make it spectacular! Lucky for us, Garland Nursery is the perfect place to find such one-of-a-kind treasures.

Even though outdoor furniture seems like one of those more practical purchases it doesn’t Kathy4have to be. It can have function and fashion all wrapped into one. This year Garland Nursery brought in a new furniture line called C.R. Plastics. They are extremely durable, extremely swank, very comfortable, come in a multitude of colors and styles, and are made from recycled plastic. What more could you ask for? Well how about a ten year color fade warranty! If you want a product that is going to stand the test of time then this is the product for you. They even have head rests for the chairs that come in a variety of fun chic prints and can be purchased separately. Of course, you’ll need to be shaded while sitting in the comfort of your well-made C.R. Plastics furniture, so how about being shaded by one of Treasure Gardens well-made umbrellas? These are without a doubt one of the best made umbrellas on the market. How many times have you purchased an umbrella and had fading of color within one season, or had poles warp and bend? Not with these babies. They are made with Sunbrella™ fabric and have a 4 year warranty against fading. The frame is made from extruded aluminum which makes them light weight but incredibly durable. Now that’s my kind of umbrella!

Kathy5So let’s say you’ve already got the basics for your home’s exterior, but it just seems like something’s missing. Well that’s because maybe something is missing, something that can turn your garden from drab to fab. When it comes to outdoor wall art, Garland Nursery has done its homework to bring consumers original, unique, and inspiring pieces. One of my favorites is the recycled oil drum art from Haiti, where each piece is hand-carved and designed by the Haitian people. There are many designs to choose from and what’s best of all, is that they withstand the elements all year round. I personally have a couple of these pieces and have had them for quite a few years now with no sign of weathering at all! Now that’s the kind Kathy1of art I want to invest my money into. Another one of my favorites, adding drama to the outdoors at night, are the hanging solar lanterns from Allsop. They have a Japanese influence in their design and come in several colors and styles. I recently purchased a couple for my own yard and couldn’t be happier with them. At night they look like amber floating globes and the light lasted for several hours after dark. They are definitely one of those items that will wow you and your guests.

Statuary is so fun in the garden! It makes a great conversation piece and invokes inspiration and happiness in the gardener. Garland Nursery has a plethora of statuary to choose from, but one of my favorites are the stone carvings from StoneAge Creations. They come in the form of owls, hedgehogs, turtles, birdbaths and more, but what’s best of all is that they are au naturel. Carved from real stone these creations will make an excellent addition to any garden. Now when it comes to finding pottery that fits in perfectly with your color and scheme, Garland Kathy2Nursery is the place to look. Careful thought goes into having a wide range of styles that range from modern to classic to natural, Asian, concrete, ceramic, lightweight and more. Of course nothing makes a more grand statement than a beautiful pot planted up with stunning plants, however, there are many styles that make a fantastic water feature too.

Maybe you already have in your mind what you want or maybe you need inspiration, either way come on out to Garland’s because more than likely you will find the treasure you’re looking for. Also, save-the-date for July 25th & 26th. It is Art & Wine in the Garden at Garland Nursery, where you’ll have over 30 local artists displaying an array of unique, beautiful and whimsical art. You’ll have great time and there is surely something there that will go very nicely in your garden.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Pollinator Spotlight: Bees

Happy Pollinator week!

What exactly is a pollinator and what do they do? Pollinators include birds, bees, butterflies, moths, flies, beetles, bats and some other mammals.

PollinatorBlogButterfly

Pollinators, such as bees, move pollen from one part of the flower of a plant to another part. This pollen fertilizes the plant. Only fertilized plants can make fruit, so pollinators are pretty important. In the United States the pollinators we rely on the most for pollination are bees.

Both my sister and I grew to love bees throughout our childhood at the nursery. With all the beautiful plants and flowers around us the bees were never far away. Luckily I was never stung. My sister, on the other hand, was stung more times than I can count and now has to carry an epi pen around with her. She hasn’t let that dull her love and appreciation of bees though. We both love learning as much as possible about the wonderful pollinators that keep the nursery and our own gardens bright and beautiful.

-Cali Powell*

PollinatorBlogBee

If the bee disappears from the surface of the earth, man would have no more than four years to live” – Einstein

 Whether this is true or not, the message is still the same: bees have a huge impact on our ecosystem. Since it is national pollinator week it seems appropriate to talk about honeybees, because, you guessed it; honeybees are one of the biggest pollinators in the world. Most people don’t realize or appreciate the extent to which bees impact our food systems and our diet. Honeybees are responsible for pollinating over 90 crops including apples, mangos, plums, broccoli, raspberries, coffee, and kale (yes, KALE!). They also pollinate all of the beautiful flowers that we love so dearly. They are a social insect and work diligently to keep a clean and well-stocked (with honey, of course) hive for their queen. Bees are always on the move pollinating crops, making honey, and keeping each other warm. There is a reason for the phrase “busy as a bee.”

PollinatorBlogBeeHive

Bees pollinate our food and give life to amazing flowers such as calla lilies and hydrangeas, but what do they get in return? Sadly, they don’t get much from humans. Although many of us appreciate this fascinating little insect we don’t know how we can contribute to their well being.

Where are all of the bees going?

It is a sad truth that these creatures that bring us so much joy are actually declining in population. Beekeepers in the United States first reported the mass disappearance of bees in 2006, when their seemingly healthy hives were abandoned. Researchers have given this phenomenon the name Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). The number of  hives in the US is the lowest it has been in 50 years. CCD is caused by an accumulation of interwoven factors: global warming, parasites, pesticide use, and habitat loss. I was also told by a local beekeeper that bees are just physically exhausted. They get trucked around the world to pollinate different crops at different times and don’t get a rest in between. The bees are dying young and with a multitude of problems. A study conducted in 2011 (NRDC), predicted that the global economic cost of bee decline could cost us as much as $5.7 billion per year.

What YOU Can Do

There is so much to learn about bees and I have only scratched the surface! It may seem like a lost cause fighting for the well being of the bees but there is always hope. Here are a few things you can do to protect the bees and encourage rich habitats for them.

  • Eat produce that is in season (so bees don’t have to travel to pollinate crops that are not meant to be eaten at that time)
  • Buy LOCAL food! Especially honey (much more ethical and pure)
  • Don’t use harmful pesticides.
  • Plant flowers that bees love (And we love too!) List here: http://www.beverlybees.com/planting-bee-garden/

– Madeline Powell*

flowers-garden-colorful-colourful

Learn More

www.pollinator.org/

https://www.nrdc.org/wildlife/animals/files/bees.pdf

Or you can watch “The Vanishing of The Bees”. This is an amazing documentary about bees and colony collapse disorder.

*This blog post was written as a collaborative effort by Cali and Madeline Powell.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Feed Me Seymour-A Blog

FeedMe“Feed me Seymour. Feed Me!!!”  That’s what many of us think of when presented with the subject of carnivorous plants: a giant, alien-looking  plant that feeds on flesh and blood.  In the animal world a lion feasting on a gazelle, while unappealing, can be chalked up to animal nature but a plant that eats insects, that’s too strange.  In reality, carnivorous plants are actually not as weird as we’d like to think but infinitely more fascinating than the common Petunia or Marigold.  I, for one, find anything about insects interesting and entertaining.  Spiders don’t bother me (unless they startle me) but snakes do.  One of my favorite classes in college was entymology.  I thoroughly enjoyed sorting the insects into families and classes; capturing, identifying and mounting many for my insect collection; and dissecting a cockroach to see its inner workings.  Okay, I get that I’m probably in the minority here.  But I’m not entirely alone.  And I’m guessing most of you enjoy plants.  So for me, when you mix insects with plants (my most favorite subject),  it’s magic.

IMG_0549

Venus Flytrap

Probably the first carnivorous plant we think of is the Venus Flytrap (Dionaea muscipula).  With its clawed leaves, it looks fierce and scary, if you’re a fly.  Hard to believe the Venus Flytrap is native to sub-tropical wetlands in North and South Carolina.  The Venus Flytrap, and most carnivorous plants, grow in poor soils, in this case-bogs.  Most of their nutrients come from gases in the air and nutrients in the soil.  However, they supplement their diet with nutrients from the insects they catch.  Normally, the flytrap leaves are open.  When an insect lands on them, their trigger hairs sense the insect and close, usually in less than a second.  Eventually, the trap closes completely and the digestive fluids break down the insect, except for the exoskeleton which blows away once the trap reopens.  If the insect is too large, the trap doesn’t ever close completely and the bacteria and mold on the insect cause the leaf to turn black and fall off.  Non-insect objects, such as a rock, are spit out after twelve hours.  Venus Flytraps prefer live insects.  Please don’t feed them hamburger meat, no matter what you’ve read.  Venus Flytraps are relatively easy to grow although particular about some things.  They actively grow from May through October.  They go into a dormant state the rest of the year, dying back partially or completely.  Many people think the plant is truly dead and throw it out.  During their growing period, they prefer being kept moist.  It is important to use distilled, soft well, or rain water.  Chemically treated city water is not good.  They will grow indoors in medium to direct sunlight.  In direct sunlight they can be set in a tray of water.  In lower light, simply keep the soil moist.  Repotting should be done in the spring before vigorous growth begins.  A special mixture of 70% peat moss and 30% perlite or pumice is an ideal potting media.  (Garland Nursery sells a Carnivorous plant potting mix). During the dormant stage, they should be kept slightly damp.

IMG_0204

Darlingtonia californica

Oregon, too, has a native carnivorous plant: the Cobra Lily, a type of Pitcher plant (Darlingtonia californica).  It looks like the snake it is named after.  Near Florence is the Darlingtonia Wayside, “the only Oregon state park property dedicated to the protection of a single plant species” (according to the official state parks website-just Google “Darlingtonia Wayside”).  My husband and I enjoyed visiting it in September of 2013.  It was a drizzly, mid-week day and we were alone in the park.  It was truly other-worldly.  Although they are available for purchase, Garland Nursery has them very rarely.

Another fascinating carnivorous plant is the Sundew (Drosera). The name “Drosera” translates to mean “glistening in the sun”, which perfectly describes it.  The trap portion has many gland-bearing stalks that secrete a sticky, dew-like substance.  This sticky droplet traps insects like flypaper.  Both the Sundew and the Venus Flytrap attract insects by a sweet, nectar-like odor.  Once trapped, the insect is pushed toward the center of the leaf by tenacles.  Doesn’t that sound scary?!

IMG_0550

Sarracenia

Besides the Darlingtonia, there are other Pitcher plant genuses.  The other most commonly available in our area is Sarracenia.  It is super cool.  The pitcher, a specialized leaf, often has unusual coloration.  I think some of the most colorful, common carnivorous plants are the Sarracenia.  The insects, once lured down the pitcher, cannot escape and drown or die of exhaustion.  Beyond the color of the pitcher, is the unique beauty of the flowers.  They flower over a 2-3 week period in April or May.  The flowers look like upside down umbrellas, with the stigma color often contrasting the petal color.  Other beneficial insects transport the pollen to make more Pitcher plants.

Many carnivorous plants have been over-collected from the wild and are now endangered.  It is important to purchase these fascinating plants from propagators rather than collectors.  At Garland Nursery, we are proud to sell carnivorous plants from Cook’s Carnivorous Plants in Junction City, Oregon.  There are other carnivorous plant genuses not covered in this blog.  I hope that you find carnivorous plants as fascinating as I do.  If you don’t, at least feel welcome to come view them, now, while they are in their glory.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Made for the Shade

Bears_Breech

Acanthus ‘Bear’s Breech’

As the heat of summer approaches I take great pleasure in the cool sanctuary of my shade garden. Here lush foliage makes a verdant backdrop to jewel-like flowers. The emphasis on fabulous foliage keeps this garden looking lovely through every season. Evergreen plants with bold foliage like Japanese Aralia (Fatsia), Bear’s Breech (Acanthus),  with its polished oak-shaped leaves and Hellebores contrast with the arching fronds of ferns and the many-colored Heucheras. Shrubs like Pieris in green or variegated forms bear hanging lily-of-the-valley-like bells followed by colorful new leaves. Rhododendrons and azaleas come in a rainbow of flower colors and offeryear-round structure. Fragrant Daphnes and sweet box (Sarcococca) fill the garden with delightful scents in spring while star jasmine and gardenias perfume the area all summer. Camellias add height and glorious flowers in spring or winter. Azara forms a small evergreen tree with green or white edged airy foliage

Brunnera macrophylla 'Jack Frost'

Brunnera macrophylla ‘Jack Frost’

and fragrant tiny yellow flowers.

Many shade loving perennials add to the tapestry of plants. Hostas bear large, stunning foliage in blue, gold, green and variegated forms. Brunneras and pulmonarias offer slug-resistant foliage often sporting silvery patterns and blue flowers in spring. Fuchsias are humming bird magnets, bearing fairy-like hanging flowers all summer in reds, purples, pinks, orange and white variations. It is fascinating to watch the hummingbird’s acrobatic flights as they feast and defend their territories.

Hydrangea1

mophead hydrangea

Hydrangea2

lacecap hydrangea

For show-stopping summer blooms it’s hard to beat the amazing array of Hydrangeas. These stunning shrubs offer masses of flowers from late spring until frost on plants as small as 2-3’ up to large 6-8’  arching beauties. Most of us are familiar with the mophead hydrangeas with their round flower clusters in white, pink or blue. Another option is the lacecap, which carries flat-topped lacey blooms in the same color ranges. The panicle hydrangeas sport large cone-shaped flowers in green, white and pink shades. A popular new introduction called ‘Strawberry Sundae’ is a delicious looking confection of white flower panicles that flushe with rich pink as each flower matures on a 4-5’ shrub. The panicle hydrangeas will grow in sun or shade. Also sun tolerant is the oakleaf hydrangea, a beauty with white cone-shaped blooms aging pink above oak shaped leaves that turn rich red in fall.

The shade garden is a cool, inviting place to sit a enjoy the glory of summer.

Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments

A Kitchen Garden is a Work in Progress

KitchenGardenIt’s that time of year.  It’s finally warm enough to plant the heat lovers in the garden: squash, cucumbers, and melons.  I’ve finally made it to the Saturday Farmer’s Market and there is an abundance of locally grown, yummy produce.  My husband and I have been trying to further alter our eating habits to include two-thirds vegetables to one-third protein on the plate.  An easy way to reach this goal is to prepare a salad or have salad makings on hand, so that we have a cooked vegetable and a yummy, salad for each meal.  I am a pretty good cook, but in the past I have failed at salad making.  My sister, Erica, makes a great salad.  She tends to stick to the same formula but it’s always tasty.  Somehow when I combine leafy greens and other stuff, it just doesn’t come out right.  A couple years ago, a friend brought a simple, tasty salad to dinner that included watercress and a lemon vinaigrette.  So simple and so tasty.

RedandGreenCrunchyI want to use fresh made dressings, especially olive oil based ones.  If you make a large enough batch to last for several salads, it ends up getting solidified in the fridge.  So I was thrilled when Jan Roberts-Dominquez republished her vinaigrette base recipe in the Corvallis GT last fall. The nursery had Jan speak about cooking with heRedandGreenCrunchyCloseUprbs a few years ago and she mentioned the vinaigrette but I wasn’t able to listen to the whole talk. Preparing the vinegar/garlic base to the vinaigrette ahead of time and adding the olive oil and herbs at the time of serving saved me from having gloppy olive oil dressing that had to be warmed up to serve and cut down on the prep time.  Check out her recipe on her blog site:  http://janrd.com/blog/29314/homemade-vinaigrette-101.   I enjoy using herbs from my garden, especially tarragon, parsley, thyme and chives.  They’re easy to grow and it’s much more efficient to cut what I need to use for a recipe rather than buying a whole package at the store, half of which often turns black before I finish using it.

This spring I ran across a recipe for a beautiful salad that featured watercress, radicchio and radishes.  (I think food should be attractive as well as tasty and color contrasts really appeal to me.)  The spicy, sweet dressing made it outstanding.  The spice came from cookbook-recipeschopped jalapeno.  I just planted a jalapeno pepper plant and I can’t wait until it starts producing.  It’s in a black pot against a hot wall, so I hope to get really good production.   I decided after making that salad that I really needed to consult a few cookbooks for salad recipes.  Winging it hadn’t worked in the past, so I turned to some of the numerous cookbooks I own.  One I checked first was Recipes From a Kitchen Garden by Renee Shepherd and Fran Raboff.  Renee is the owner of Renee’s Garden.  She is a heroine of mine.  I greatly admire her business acumen, knowledge and gardening ability.  She has a wonderful blog on her website, a great selection of seeds including heirlooms and a passion for gardening.  When Kitchen Gardens International named her one of the 10 Inspiring Women Moving the World’s Food Garden Needle (Michelle Obama was in the group), I couldn’t believe I have the opportunity to personally meet and talk to someone so well recognized.  I am a huge fan!  We stock 2 of Renee’s cookbooks at the cookbook-renees-gardennursery and as the seed buyer at the nursery, I was fortunate to be gifted a copy of Recipes From a Kitchen Garden.  I have made a few dishes from this cookbook and what I have made is delicious.  Renee and Fran concentrate on fresh produce from their gardens combined with other fresh ingredients.  What was the first salad recipe I tried?  I have to admit that I ended up combining 2 salad recipes because I didn’t have all the ingredients for one.  I had radicchio, arugula, and oranges.  So I made Island Sin Salad dressing with the greens and orange segments.  It was very tasty.  I now have the ingredients to make Crunchy Red and Green Salad (page 83) including frisee.  I’m excited to try it.  I wonder if I can grow frisee in my garden.  You can start that in mid-summer. On the Renee’s Garden rack at the nursery, I have watercress seed.  Wouldn’t it be great to grow that myself, too?  That might be a goal for the for next year.

TomatoTartWhen Erica suggested that this would be a good time to feature recipes again in the blog, I asked her if she would help me to select the recipes from Renee’s cookbooks.  As  I had selected a salad, she thought a meal would be appropriate: salad, entree and dessert.  Erica loves tomatoes and her entree selection was Tomato Tart, page 109 in More Recipes From a Kitchen Garden.  I have made tomato tart in the past, but not this particular recipe.  I was excited to try this version.  I bought Roma tomatoes, as I thought a meatier, tomato might be better.  I like using them for salsa.  My husband and I were just getting ready to plant our TomatoTartFullsecond garden at the nursery.  There isn’t enough room in my home garden to grow everything I’d like, so I share some space with my parents on the nursery property.  It’s still a great time to plant tomatoes, eggplant, squash and peppers.  So I picked up a paste and a beefsteak type tomato to plant plus more zucchini.  The tart turned out nicely.  It would help if I read the instructions through a couple times before I actually make a new recipe.  I put the chives in at the wrong time, but I don’t think it made too much of a difference.  I hate to admit I bought a pre-made crust.  I inadvertently bought a vegan crust.  It’s whole-wheat.

KitchenGardenPortraitFinally, dessert is needed.  The Renee’s Garden website (reneesgarden.com) has a number of recipes you can download.  One recipe featured is for Chocolate Zucchini Cake-Orange scented.  I have been meaning to try this recipe for a couple of years now.  So that’ s last on the list.  I was excited to see zucchini at the farmer’s market and I always have chocolate in the house, so I’ll try that one this week, too.  I really do like zucchini and this year I’m trying Romanesco.  It’s available on the Renee’s Garden seed rack, too.  Supposedly it has long-holding blossoms great for making stuffed zucchini blossoms.  I tried a recipe last year and they were pretty tasty.

If you would like to learn more about Renee’s Garden seeds, especially the heirloom varieties check out their website.  Also on the website are Renee’s blogs and some recipes. She has a wealth of information to share to help you be successful in growing and preparing your own vegetables this summer.  Enjoy!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

GOOD BUG/BAD BUG

Sharon_2011Guest Blogger Sharon Knight

As the weather warms and you’re able to get out into your garden more, you may be noticing that insects are getting out into the garden more too. Every garden has insects, and every garden needs insects. Most people like to categorize insects as either good or bad. When asked, most people will say that bees and ladybugs and praying mantises are good, and everything else is bad. That is not the case. If bugs are considered “good” if they pollinate flowers or eat other insects, then the list is much longer than that. When I take a closer look at the flowering plum trees right now I see a whole host of insects crawling around on the flowers, feeding on nectar, and most of them are not bees, but they are still moving pollen around and pollinating the flowers. Granted, they may not be as efficient as bees, but they are helping. One insect I see most of all is a type of fly called a syrphid fly. Those are the ones that look like bees, but tend to hover in place above the flowers a lot. As adults they do a pretty good job pollinating, but as larvae they are voracious predators of such insects as aphids and spittle bugs. The larvae look like green maggots on the back of leaves and are often mistaken for something that is eating the leaf.

When it comes to predatory insects the list is huge! Lacewing flies (not to be confused with lace bugs), ground beetles, centipedes, soldier beetles, syrphid flies, red predatory mites, assassin bugs, minute pirate bugs, wasps, hornets, some types of stink bugs and all the spiders! The list goes on, but I think you get the point. Ladybugs aren’t the only game in town when it comes to aphid control. The problem is, most people don’t always recognize which bugs are predatory. Recognizing which bugs are “good” is the first step to developing a healthy ecosystem in your yard.

Below are some pictures of some of the less recognized predatory insects:

Soldier_Beetle

Soldier Beetle

GreenLacewing

Green Lacewing

Syrphid Fly Larvae

Larvae_Predatory_Red_Mite

Larvae Predatory Red Mite

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While you can’t always rely on predatory insects to clean up all the “bad” bugs in the yard and you may have to deal with a few problem insects yourself, you can help encourage more “good” bugs by adding plants to your landscape that beneficial insects like such as plants with umbel flowers or ferny foliage like dill, bronze fennel, parsley and yarrow. For a more extensive list, stop by Garland Nursery and ask for one.

There are some insects that come into your yard, however, that are considered “bad” that don’t really have predatory insects that will eat them. These insects evolved somewhere else and were brought here accidentally. Where they came from there were predatory insects that evolved alongside them and controlled them, but here, in the absence of their predators, they flourish and have become invasive. The 3 main ones in this area are Spotted Wing Drosophila, Azalea Lace Bugs, and Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs. If you would like to learn more about these 3 pests, be discussing them at a free class at Garland Nursery on Saturday, March 28th at 1:00 p.m.

Posted in Gardening | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

PLANT DISEASE CONTROL 201

Sharon_2011

Guest Blogger Sharon Knight

The 3 categories of plant pathogens we are going to discuss are fungal, bacterial and viral.

I want to start by saying that there is a certain mindset when it comes to disease control that people need to change.  Currently people look at their plant, see that it doesn’t look healthy, then bring in a sample and ask: “what’s wrong with my plant, and what do I spray to correct it?”  What people should be asking is: “what are my plant’s cultural requirements, and how do I best meet them to keep my plant healthy?”

What makes a plant susceptible to pathogens?

-The wrong location. (sun loving plants in the shade, shade lovers in too much sun)

-The wrong soil type. (drainage issues, pH imbalances)

-Watering issues. (too much, too little)

-Wrong climate. (non-hardy plants out in the cold)

-Wrong fertilizer. (not enough, too much, wrong time)

-Injury from improper planting, pruning, severe weather, animals, mowers and weed whackers.

-Insects.

Three things need to be present for plant diseases to occur.  The host plant, the pathogen, and the correct environmental conditions.  Think of it as a triangle.  The pathogens are always there, so the only thing you can really control is the host plant and to some extent, the conditions.  If you start with a healthy plant, and give it the exact environment it needs you can go a long way to preventing diseases.  Remember the old saying; “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”? It is still true today.

In addition to knowing what the plant’s ideal environment is and trying to come as close as possible to matching it, it is important to know what diseases that particular plant is susceptible to.  It may be surprising to realize that most plants are immune to most diseases.  By that I mean, tomatoes don’t get black spot from roses, apples don’t get peach leaf curl, artichokes don’t get shot-hole, and raspberries don’t get black spot.  That being said, there are a number of diseases that seem to infect everything, like powdery mildew, rust and botrytis.  We’re going to discuss some of the more common diseases, what conditions favor them, and what can be done to prevent or discourage them.

First, realize that not every plant will work in every environment.  While most of us can’t match all of the ideal conditions for every plant we want, we should try to get as close as possible.  If you have a shady yard, stick to shade loving plants, if your yard is sunny, stick with sun lovers.  If your soil is heavy clay and you want plants that require better drainage, amend the soil with compost or soil conditioner to improve it.  If the area stays too wet in the winter, you might have to consider putting in some kind of drain system or plan to berm up your soil to raise the root zone out of the water. And while we’re on the topic of soils, most plants have a preferred pH level.  It’s good to know what that is and if your soil is in the correct zone.  If not, you may have to add something like lime to correct it.  The actual planting of the plant is important too.  Make sure the hole is the proper depth and width, the soil is amended if necessary, the roots should be loosened so they can spread out properly, and if the plant is tall or wind may be a problem, it should be staked.  Also the use of root stimulator and starter fertilizers to get your plants off to a good start will be a big help.

Knowing what fertilizer to use and when to use it and how much to use is important, as is proper pruning techniques and timing of pruning.  Plants that don’t get proper nutrients are more susceptible to diseases just like people are more susceptible to diseases when they aren’t eating right.  Pruning or mechanical injuries like those caused by weed whackers and animals can allow pathogens to enter the bark of a plant and cause disease.

Clean up is one of the most important things you can do to keep your plants disease free.  Keeping the area around the plant free of weeds and decaying plant tissue (like last fall’s leaves) will keep down the concentration of disease pathogens in the area, and may eliminate some alternate hosts for some diseases. Pruning out dead wood or any twigs or branches that have cankers is important.  Be sure to sterilize your pruning tools between cuts to prevent further spread of disease. A 10 percent bleach solution or use of isopropyl alcohol will clean your pruners, just remember to oil them when you are finished. Crop rotation can also be a useful tool to cut down on disease in a vegetable or annual flower garden. Also application of lime to the soil around your plants can sometimes kill the overwintering stages of fungi in the soil and reduce the amount of spores available in the spring,

When choosing your plant,you should consider planting disease resistant cultivars when you have a choice.  Seed packets and plant labels may list if a plant is resistant to certain diseases common to it’s species, if you aren’t sure, ask someone at the garden store, or research varieties on-line.  When a plant is listed as resistant to a disease, its not the same as immune.  For example, Frost Peach is leaf curl resistant, which means, in an environment where leaf curl is a problem, Frost will be less affected by it and show fewer symptoms.  Some plants may not be resistant, but may just be tolerant, which means they can get the disease just as bad as the next plant, but will still live and be productive (some vegetable varieties are more tolerant of some diseases than others).

Even if you did everything right, sometimes spraying may still be necessary.  It should be considered as a last resort when care and clean up is not enough.  It is important to always know what you are spraying for and with.  That seems obvious, but you’d be surprised how many phone calls we get that go something like this: “I have a plant that’s dying, and I sprayed it with some spray I have, and I want to know what else I need to do.” Often they don’t know what the plant is “dying” of, or even what kind of plant they have (I once got a call from a panicky woman whose maple tree must be dying because it was turning yellow and dropping leaves…in October!) When I ask what they sprayed it with, they often don’t know if it was a fungicide or and insecticide (or even a herbicide!).  The  best bet is to bring out a sample (in a sealed clear bag please) so we can diagnose the problem and steer you in the right direction.

When it comes to spraying for diseases it’s important to read, understand, and follow the directions on the label.  Not all fungicides are effective on all diseases.  Timing of the spray is also important. Spraying your apple tree once it is covered in scab won’t do any good.  Spraying should be done as a preventative before the infection occurs, or in some cases as a cure once the disease first starts.  Once the disease is well established, spraying is always ineffective. Spraying alone is never enough either.  Cultural practices like cleaning up fallen leaves, removing cankers and dead wood, cleaning up weeds to remove insects and alternate hosts is always important and should always be a part of disease management practices.

Now let’s talk about the 3 main pathogens.  Fungal diseases are the most common diseases we see here in the pacific northwest.  They usually overwinter on diseased plant tissue like fallen leaves and stem cankers.  Generally they produce spores in the spring when the weather starts to warm and the plants begin growing again.  Wet weather like rainy springs will splash spores onto the new leaves and start the infection.  Some fungi have a secondary infection after the initial spores grow and the fungus matures, it produces a different type of spore that is carried by wind and rain to infect more leaves. Generally wet or humid weather promotes fungal growth.

Bacterial infections are also a problem in the pacific northwest.  Bacteria usually infect the plant through an open wound.  Mechanical damage from pruning, animals and severe weather can leave open wounds for the infection to get in. Usually it is during a period of wet or humid weather.  Some bacteria can enter through normal openings in leaves like the stomata, or through flowers.  Bacterial infections often travel through the vascular system of the plant spreading the infection down the stems and to other parts of the plant.

Viral diseases, while less prevalent, are the most difficult.  There are no cures for viral diseases of plants.  Some viruses, like rose mosaic virus, don’t usually kill the plant, but in times of stress can weaken the plant and make it more susceptible to other infections. Other viruses, like tobacco ring spot in raspberries will weaken the plant and cause it to be non-productive.  Some viruses are spread by insects and are highly contagious and plants showing symptoms should be removed and destroyed before the virus can spread.  Others are less contagious and are usually spread by not sterilizing tools after pruning an infected plant.  Most viruses show up as mottled or streaked yellow markings in otherwise healthy looking leaves.  Some cause leaves to be distorted and yellow and look similar to herbicide damage.  Whatever the cause, the only treatment for viral diseases is to remove the plant and destroy it, usually by burning it. By removing infected plants, removing alternate hosts for certain plant viruses (wild blackberries can harbor raspberry diseases), and controlling insect vectors, you can cut down on chances of your plants getting viral infections.

If you want to learn how to deal with some of the more common diseases in our area, Garland nursery is offering a class on Saturday, February 21st at 11am.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment