This is the time of the year when some of the problems with our plantings are noticed. Some of our vegetables and a few of our flowers begin to show signs of not doing so well and the calls start coming for help to solve these situations. There are some pests that can give us troubles not only in the vegetable garden but in the landscape with our shrubs and some trees. The key to controlling these problems is identifying what is causing the damage to our plants.

Recently, a guest brought in a sample of an insect to be identified and they had already sprayed the tree with Sevin. Unfortunately the spray that was being used would not control their “bug” that we examined. This critter only attacks dead tissue and the chemical being used would not control the problem but it can do serious damage to some of our pollinators, especially our bees. The take home of this incident is to know what is causing damage to your plants. Sometimes the problem isn’t serious enough to take any action, there will only be slight damage and it is temporary. Go to your favorite expert and get some help with the ID of any problems with your plants.

Another caller contacted us about their California Wonder peppers not doing well. She told us that some of her pepper plants had a severe wilt, the entire plant looked like it was dry but the ground was damp. During the discussion we learned that the plants were planted 4” deeper than the root ball “because the plants were ”nice and tall when I bought them”. This can be a problem with many plants. Tomato plants will overcome being planted too deep by developing roots all along the stem of the plant but most plants will die if not planted so the root ball is level with the soil around them. This is true of many trees and shrubs as well as flowers and vegetable plants. If you are going to error, always error on planting on the high side, plants can adapt to this but many times cannot survive being planted too deeply. Upon examination of the pepper plants, a day or so later, it appears that the plants have a disease that can survive from year to year in the soil and is aggravated by high humidity and overhead watering.

It is the time of year when insects and mites become more active. A customer brought in some pieces of their Alberta Spruce from the side that was turning brown. When the needled pieces were tapped over a white piece of paper some tiny little red dots started to move on the paper below. When we took our finger and rubbed it across the paper you could see the “smear” left by the remains of the tiny speck, which was a mite. This is a good way to see if you have mites, in this case red spider mites, sucking the juices out of your plants. Alberta Spruce is one of the favorite meals for spider mites and they were going to town on this spruce. The first mode of defense for this critter is easy and inexpensive….a strong stream of water aimed at the evergreen. This will mechanically remove many of the mites and really slow them down from sucking your plant dry and causing it to turn brown. Even if you have good looking, healthy evergreens, especially tightly growing spruce, this would be a good prevention technique against spider mites.

There are many simple methods of controlling pests and eliminating problems, these are two examples of things you can do in addition to applying pesticides to solve your gardening challenges. Send a photo and questions to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and we will try to help you solve your gardening challenges.

33 years of growing

Meadow View Growers