Squash bugs — The nymphs of the first generation of squash bugs are appearing, Ward Upham of K-State says. When mature, squash bugs are gray, shield-shaped bugs that feed on squash and pumpkin plants and whose hard bodies rebuff insecticides. So it’s important to spray when the bugs are small, Upham says. “These nymphs will eventually become adults, which will lay eggs that will become the second generation. The second generation is often huge and devastating. Therefore, it is important to control as many squash bugs now as possible.
“Because squash bugs feed by sucking juice from the plant, only insecticides that directly contact the insect will work. General-use insecticides such as permethrin (Bug-B-Gon Multi-Purpose Garden Dust, Green Thumb Multipurpose Garden and Pet Dust, Bug-No-More Yard and Garden Insect Spray, Eight Vegetable, Fruit and Flower Concentrate, Garden, Pet and Livestock Insect Control, Lawn & Garden Insect Killer), malathion, rotenone, and methoxychlor provide control if a direct application is made to young, soft-bodied squash bugs. This means that you MUST spray or dust the underside of the leaves, because this is where the insects live.”
Plant – Sweet potatoes, sweet corn, winter squash, tomatoes.
Stop starter solution – Count me among those who have used a root stimulator every time they plant. Like I need a cup of coffee in the morning, my plants need their jolt o’ starter solution, I figure. Turns out the kick-start fertilizer is only needed when soils are cool, and they may actually cause plant damage once the soil gets warm, Upham says.
Root stimulator is usually a weak fertilizer that contains nitrogen and phosphate, he says. “Early in the growing season, soil nutrients aren’t readily available to help plants develop roots and become established. So applying a starter solution near a plant’s roots is like providing a substitute meal.” As the weather warms, though, plants can tap into the soil’s nutrients more and more easily, he said.
“Unless your soil is nutrient-poor, you’re wasting time and solution if you apply a starter product after that,” Upham said. “In fact, if your soil is fertile and the weather gets pretty warm, your applying a starter solution might actually cause some plant damage by burning roots.”
Share your garden photos – We’d love to see photos of your garden this spring and summer. Do you have a favorite combination of flowers in a pot, a cute fence for your vegetable garden, a new way to trellis the cucumbers? Upload your photos at www.kansas.com/upload along with a brief description of what is pictured. See photos in a gallery on Kansas.com.
Native-grass meeting – The Suburban Garden Club will meet at Kim Oblak’s yard at 10 a.m. Monday, and she will speak about native grasses. Lunch will follow at Willowbend Country Club. The public is invited. For more information call Pat Samms at 316-682-5555 or Sherryl Fitzpatrick at 316-721-4810.
“Star Wars” exhibit talk – Tracy Kallhoff will be at Botanica on Wednesday June 13 to talk about the “Star Wars” exhibit at Exploration Place. The lunchtime lecture is included in Botanica admission.