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February 26, 2012

Destructive Insects - Control of the Japanese Beetle

-by Debra Anchors

As of November 2011, The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has identified the Japanese Beetle as the #2  most destructive insect in the USA.

The adult Japanese Beetle feeds on the foliage and fruits of several hundred species of plant life and leaves behind skeletonized leaves and large, irregular holes in leaves. The grubs develop in the soil, feeding on the roots of various plants and grasses and often destroys turf in lawns, parks, golf courses, and pastures. Today, the Japanese beetle is the most widespread turf-grass pest in the United States. Efforts to control the larval and adult stages are estimated to cost more than $460 million a year. Losses attributable to the larval stage alone have been estimated at $234 million per year—$78 million for control costs and an additional $156 million for replacement of damaged turf.

In its native Japan, where the Beetle’s natural enemies keep its populations in check, the Japanese Beetle is not a serious plant pest.  But, in the United States, the Beetle entered without its natural enemies and found a favorable climate and an abundant food supply. By 1972, Beetle infestations had been reported in 22 States east of the Mississippi River and also in Arkansas, Iowa, and Missouri. Since then, the pest has spread to Southern and Western States, but tough regulations and careful monitoring have prevented its establishment there. Without its natural checks and balances, the Japanese beetle has become a serious plant pest and a threat to American agriculture.

Life stages of the Japanese Beetle
© Joel Floyd 

Several traps using a floral lure and sex attractant are available, but these traps are ineffective and not recommended for general use unless special conditions are met. The traps have been demonstrated to be effective in reducing damage and populations only when landscapes are isolated from other Japanese beetle breeding areas or when mass trapping (involving everyone in the neighborhood) is used. In most urban areas, traps tend to attract more beetles into the area than would normally be present. In this situation, adult feeding and resultant grub populations are not reduced.

Beetle grubs are best controlled when they are small and actively feeding near the soil surface, usually late July to mid-August. However, with the development of new grub control chemistry (e.g., imidacloprid and halofenozide applications in June and July have sufficient residual activity to kill the new grub populations as they come to the soil surface in late July through August. Control of grubs in late fall or early spring is difficult, because the grubs are large and may not be feeding. Only trichlorfon and carbaryl formulations are available for such rescue treatments. The key to good control is to make an even application and water thoroughly.

Life Cycle of the Japanese Beetle

Gardeners joyfully toil in their gardens to enjoy the beauty of their flowers; Japanese Beetles will deny the gardener their reward. The most effective product I have found to control Japanese Beetle infestations is Optrol from Plant Care Science.  Optrol contains the highest amount of imidacloprid approved for sale on the market and is by far the most effective defense I have found.  Optrol is a new product and not widely available at your local retailer. If readers are having a challenge finding Optrol, please leave a comment and I’ll try to find a source for you.

Sources referenced while writing this article:
Ohio State University
United States Department of Agriculture

Thank you for stopping by to spend time in my garden.  If you enjoyed this article, please let me know. I will be delighted if you would suggest Gardens Inspired to your friends, follow me or subscribe to my Blog.  If you enjoy upcycled garden style, there is a link to my site just under the navigation bar, above.

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February 21, 2012

Garden tasks to begin now

-by Debra Anchors

Waiting to begin the season of planting, potting, pinching, and all that fun stuff can make anyone sick with anticipation.  While thousands of people across the Country suffer from the flu, gardeners in cold winter zones experience a different sort of malaise during the long winter.  To avoid infection, keep busy by planning and preparing for the upcoming gardening season.  The colder months offer ample opportunity for analyzing what you like and don’t like about your garden.  It is also important to take the time to make sure your potting shed is fully stocked and ready for the first signs of spring and that your tools are in great shape and ready to use.

Take Inventory: 

√  Fertilizer
√  Soil-testing kit
√  Soil/fertilizer scoop
√  Labels
√  Soil amendments (peat moss,
    vermiculite, and perlite)
√  Permanent markers
√  Stakes
√  Potting soil
√  Wire, string, twist ties
√  Seed-starting supplies, soilless mix
√  Rooting hormone (make your own)
√  Seed flats
√  Hose
√  Clay or plastic pots and saucers in a
    range of sizes
√  Garden gear (boots, gloves, apron,
     knee pads, etc.)

Wintertime Tool Care:
  • Remove rust from metal parts with a sanding block
  • Lubricate fulcrums and joints on pruning tools
  • Sand wooden tool handles to eliminate splinters
  • Sharpen blades (file blade away from your body)
  • Overhaul major machinery (lawn mower, shredder, hedge trimmers, etc.)

Dream of spring and your garden:

Look for inspiration during this time of year. Do you like flea market garden style? Do you prefer a more formal garden? Traditional? Look around you; inspiration is everywhere!

Thank you for stopping by to spend time in my garden.  If you enjoyed this article, please let me know. I will be delighted if you would suggest Gardens Inspired to your friends, follow me or subscribe to my Blog.

Leave a legacy, but garden like you’ll live forever! 

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February 13, 2012

Grow Money Plants

-by Debra Anchors

Moonwort is as irresistible to children as sunflowers are to goldfinches. When kids discover the ripened pods in the garden, they immediately know they’ve struck it rich. Children hang money plant seeds from their ears as earrings, make stickpins and brooches with the flowers, create beautiful crowns to wear and gather piles of the gleaming “coins”.

Throughout the season, gardeners count on the dependable moonwort to enhance bouquets and potpourri mixtures (separate the pods and use them singly).  Cleaned and dried, money plant pods can be enjoyed year-round in dried arrangements.

The oil painting here is by Jean Bradbury and is named “Honesty”. The Money Plant is also known as Honesty, Bolbonac, Moonwort and Silver Dollar (Lunaria annua).

Money Plant - flowers
To Grow  – This plant thrives in Zones 5 through 9 in dappled shade to sunshine. Sow the seeds in warm, moist potting soil in containers or direct sow into the garden in the spring after all danger of frost is past.  Allow 10 to 12 inches between the plants (they can reach a height of 36 inches). Mulch plants to conserve moisture, but keep mulch off the stems and crown of the plant.  Feed every two weeks with a combination kelp-fish emulsion liquid fertilizer. Take care to water the plants with clear water before each feeding to be sure the soil is already moist.

Money Plant - seed pods
To harvest – Wait until your plant stalks have turned brown before cutting them at the base.  Loosely bunch stalks and tie with string, or secure with rubber bands.  Hang bunches upside down until thoroughly dried.  When dry, separate stalks and gently slip the brown papery covering off the pod.  There is no need to use preservatives or sprays on the dried arrangements; they’ll last for years.

Money Plant - cleaned
Thank you for stopping by to spend time in my garden.  If you enjoyed this article, please let me know.  I will be delighted if you would suggest Gardens Inspired to your friends, follow me or subscribe to my Blog.

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February 7, 2012

Attract bug-eating birds to your garden

-by Debra Anchors

American Robin 
In lieu of using pesticides to rid your plants of damaging insects, why not employ one of nature’s insecticides in your garden – birds?  A healthy population of birds can be the best friend a gardener or farmer can have.

How effective are birds in ridding your garden of unwanted pests? Consider an 1885 United States Bureau of Biological Survey study of the eating habits of wild birds. In the extensive study, the stomach contents of over sixty thousand birds of over 400 species were examined and analyzed. The results are fascinating.

Scarlet tanagers were observed in the field eating 35 gypsy moth caterpillars per minute, Nashville warblers ate three tent caterpillars per minute, and an impressive 89 plant lice per minute were consumed by one tiny yellowthroat.

When the stomach contents of a rose-breasted grosbeak were examined scientists found the remains of 14 potato bugs.  A downy woodpecker had consumed 18 codling-moth larvae, a red-winged blackbird 28 cutworms, a robin 270 larvae of March-flies, and a flicker 5,000 ants.

Aren’t the quantities and diversity of harmful insects consumed amazing? Unbelievable?

Downy woodpeckers were observed eating up to 43 species of insects, horned larks 60, flickers 89, wood pewees 131, robins 223, cardinals 81, bluebirds 166, phoebes 121 and nighthawks an incredible 600 species.

It is relatively easy to attract helpful species of birds to your landscape; listed here are a few ways to lure birds into your garden:
  • Situate birdbaths throughout your garden, but do not set them near bushes that provide cover for cats.  Keep birdbaths clean and filled with fresh water.
  • If possible, provide a running fountain or trickle of water into a shallow basin.  Both the sound and the movement will attract the birds (avian misters are available in nurseries, bird stores and online).
  • Mulch.  A protective layer of mulch thwarts weeds, conserves moisture, and entices bugs.  You’ll find lots of birds poking through and under your mulch for critters.
  • Avoid using pesticides, herbicides and fungicides.  Poisons will destroy the beneficial soil dwellers and may sicken or even kill the birds.
The 5-minute video embedded below is a wonderful teaching tool for children.

If you enjoy this website, you might like my magazine, Gardening Life.

Thank you for stopping by to spend time in my garden.  If you liked the article, please take a moment to let me know. I will be delighted if you would suggest Gardens Inspired to your friends, follow me or subscribe to my Blog.

Leave a legacy, but garden like you’ll live forever! 

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February 4, 2012

The Versatile Blogger Award | Gardens Inspired

-by Debra Anchors

Sincere gratitude is being expressed to Michelle Potter of The Sage Butterfly. Michelle is a talented writer, Master Gardener, and the author of The Complete SAVing Source Catalog: A Guide to Saving the Earth and Money. 

Michelle was kind enough to nominate this Blog, Gardens Inspired for The Versatile Blogger Award in January, 2012. The Sage Butterfly is, and has been, on my list of recommended reads. Please treat yourself to discovering the talent of Michelle Potter.

 Thank you very much for honoring me, Michelle.
There are many blogs I enjoy reading on a regular basis. I would like to recommend the sites below for your reading pleasure and am also very pleased to nominate the following excellent blogs for The Versatile Blogger Award:

Black Walnut Dispatch - Mary lives and gardens in Burke, Virginia.  
One of my favorite posts by Mary:  Better Homes and Gardens Than Yours 

Casa Mariposa - The author's current garden is in a suburb near Washington DC.
One of my favorite posts by this author:  Downward Dogwood aka The Borer War 

Casinha Bonitinha (Cute Little House) - Flavinha Gomes is a teacher and is "crazy for cute houses".  One of my favorite posts by Flavinha:  Loucura por jardins (Madness by gardens)  Note: You will need an online translation tool to reference this enjoyable blog; it is written in Portuguese.  

Children of the Corm - Jess gardens in Charleston, South Carolina.
One of my favorite posts by Jess:  Love & Hate Relationship With The White Garden 

Conrad Art Glass & Gardens - Larry gardens on two acres in Wisconsin.
One of my favorite posts by Larry:  A change in the vision?

Hayfield - A Pennsylvania Plant Geek’s Garden - Nancy gardens in Bucks County, Pennsylvania 
One of my favorite posts by Nancy:  About the Alpacas

Jean’s Garden - Jean gardens primarily in East Poland, Maine but also has a small garden in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.One of my favorite posts by Jean:  Garden Blogs of the Month: January 2012  

May Dreams Gardens - Carol gardens in Indiana.
One of my favorite posts by Carol:  The Five Secrets to Achieving Happiness In Your Garden   

Pat and Jim's Gardening Adventure - Pat and Jim garden in Strongsville, Ohio.
One of my favorite posts by the authors:  Went to the food show, got some yard art    

Roses and Other Gardening Joys - HolleyGarden has a  garden full of roses and companion plantings in Texas. One of my favorite posts by HolleyGarden:  My Favorite 12  

Stone Art - Sunny Wieler is a landscaper, stonemasion and artist living in Ireland.
One of my favorite posts by Sunny:  Once upon a fairytale garden

The Amateur Weeder - Lyn gardens in Bathurst, NSW, Australia
One of my favorite posts by Lyn:  Something Borrowed makes me Blue

The Gardening Blog - Barbie and Christine are "life-long friends with two very different gardens" in Cape Town, South Africa.  Favorite posts written by these authors:  Ghost Mantis in my garden by Barbie and Gardenias 101 by Christine

Welsh Hills Again - Elizabeth lives in a sixteenth century farmhouse looking out over a beautiful valley in North Wales.  One of my favorite posts by Elizabeth:  Doors 

Women Who Run With Delphiniums - Linnie is an author who "also (must) garden".  One of my favorite posts by Linnie:  Water water everywhere       

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~~ ~ ~ ~ ~~ ~ ~ ~

As suggested in the rules of The Versatile Blogger Award, offered here are a few notes about me ~

  • I was born in Detroit, Michigan
  • I am a trained crisis counselor
  • I played a clarinet for 7 years
  • I have been an award-winning baton twirler
  • I retired as a graphic project manager from a Fortune-500 company
  • I was a trainer and public speaker for 10 years
  • I am proud of my Irish and Scottish heritage

Thank you, again, Michelle. And thanks to you too, for stopping by.  

Until we meet again ~

Leave a legacy, but garden like you’ll live forever!