Q– How do I dry flowers to preserve them?
A–Now is the time to harvest. Two basic methods are 1) hanging the flowers upside down in a dark, dry, ventilated area or 2) using a drying agent like silica gel, available from craft stores.
Q– How should I be fertilizing now?
A– Continue a regular schedule for vegetables, annuals, herbs, and containers. A mid-August application is important for maintenance through the remaining season. It’s OK to reduce the frequency as fall approaches, as growth slows when days shorten and frosts begin. Containers usually require more frequent applications than garden beds. Fertilize chrysanthemums until the buds show good color. For perennials, trees, and shrubs, stop using anything with nitrogen by mid-August. This will help prepare the plants for winter dormancy. Phosphorus can be continued into the fall, if desired.
Q– What causes my stone fruits (peaches, plums, apricots, cherries, etc.) to get brown spots that spread to the whole fruit, and then the fruit shrivels and dries on the branch?
A–Brown Rot of Stone Fruit. To control this fungus: remove all “mummified” fruit and blighted twigs from the area. Late next winter, prune out extra branches to increase air circulation. Apply fungicide spray to spring blossoms and for three weeks before fruit harvest.
Q– I grew herbs this year. How do I harvest them?
A– Some are best dried, others are best frozen. In general, the best time to harvest is before the plants flower. Click here for more herb care information
Q– Why are the buds and tips of my tall phlox yellow and distorted?
A– They may have “phlox tip midge”. This insect’s maggots live among developing leaves in phlox buds from June until frost. Control by picking off infested tips and putting them in the trash (not the compost pile), or spray with pesticides labeled for midges on outside ornamentals. Throughout the growing season, supply adequate water to make sure plants are not starving nutritionally (we do not advise heavy fertilizer applications on perennials). Healthy plants are more resistant to pests.
Trees & Shrubs:
Q– Why do my apple/crabapple leaves appear sparse and ugly and brown?
A– Apple scab is probably the culprit. This will also damage fruit and needs to be controlled early in the season by frequent spraying. In the fall, pick up and rake up all leaves and fruit on the ground and put it into the trash, not into the compost.
Q– What are those ugly nests in my fruit trees/apples/lilacs/trees and shrubs along the road?
A– Fall webworms. Apply Bt as soon as nests are visible. Or wait till dusk or dawn (when the worms are in the nests) and squish the whole nest-full or prune out the whole branch and destroy it. Do not burn the nests, as it is harmful to the branches.
Q– What is happening to the leaves on my dogwoods?
A– The problems is probably caused by Dogwood Sawfly, which skeletonizes the leaves, leaving the mid-veins. Early next summer, look for groups of young larvae on the underside of leaves. These may also attack the wood in your house. Chemical control is only worthwhile if larvae are less than 1 inch long.
Q– I am concerned by what I hear about wooly adelgids on hemlocks, which has been destroying hemlocks in other states and now has appeared in southern Maine. What should I know?
A– Hemlock wooly adelgid is a serious pest on this valuable tree. It looks like white dabs of cotton. If you think you see this on a tree, contact the State Dept. of Agriculture 287-3891. Do not transplant seedlings from the wild from other states, and do not buy from out-of-state nurseries. All nursery-grown hemlocks in Maine are supposed to be carefully regulated to prevent this pest from spreading, so be sure to buy from a reputable nursery. Ask the nursery staff if you have concerns.
Q– What is eating the leaves off my tomatoes/peppers/eggplants, leaving only the leaf rib?
A– Look for Tomato Hornworm, a fat green worm with stripes. It grows up to several inches long. Hand-picking is best, or prune off the branches they are hanging from and destroy them. You may find them on the underside of a leaf midrib. Also search for eggs and destroy them. Another sign of their presence are dark, small droppings on the ground, which you may see before you find the well-camouflaged caterpillars. Bt is only effective early in the worm’s life stage, probably before you notice damage. Chemical sprays are also available.
Q– What is that dark brown, wiggly insect with two pincers that are in my corn silk, flowers, or under the siding of my house (or other hiding places)?
A– Earwigs. Click here for more information.
Q– The bottom leaves of my tomatoes are turning yellow, spotted, then brown and shriveling. What’s wrong?
A– Early Blight. Click here for more information
Q– What is eating leaves and flowers on many varieties of my flowers, trees, shrubs, weeds, grasses, fruits, & vegetables? Sometimes only the midrib of the leaf remains. I don’t see an insect.
A– Look for dark, cinnamon-brown colored beetles at night. This is the Asiatic Garden Beetle . Treat as you would any beetle that is damaging your crops.
• Remove raspberry canes that have finished fruiting, leaving new shoots for next year’s crop.
• Remove all weeds from the garden before they go to seed.
• Keep watering, for a total of 1” per week of water including any rain that falls. Pay special attention to newly-planted plants.
• Start cool-weather greens for a fall crop.
• Take cuttings from house plants to start new ones.
• Harvest potatoes after tops have died back.
• Plant green cover crops (clover, alfalfa, annual rye, oats, or vetch) in areas of the vegetable garden that have been harvested already.
• Make records of what did or did not do well in your gardens, so that you can plan for next year. Photos are helpful and can also brighten up your winter as you review them. •Supply water evenly to tomatoes, avoiding sudden changes of moisture that may damage the fruits.
Disease/pest prevention: Remove mildewed and other diseased or insect-infested plant materials from the garden. Do not compost anything with seed, insects, or disease.
Tomato problem resources:
University of Maine Cooperative Extension