Dr. Rick - Selecting
Plants At The End Of The Season
you've lived in the country and have taken care of chickens,
you'll know what I mean when I talk about 'Pecking order".
In other words, it's the biggest, meanest chicken in the
flock that gets to peck for seeds first. After he is full
or distracted then the second biggest chicken gets to eat
and on down the line.
Well plants have a bit of a pecking order in terms of which
parts get the lion's share of the food first and second
and so forth. It's interesting to know this if you are purchasing
plants this time of year especially if they have been sitting
out since spring. Some of the plants look pretty beat up
(and are often put on sale or given away) but if you know
what to look for, you can get great plants at great prices.
Understand that by this time of year, the top parts of the
plant may look really ragged. It may have stopped blooming,
stopped producing new shoots and stems. Those are typically
the parts at the top of the heap. In other words, they get
the lion's share of the stored food in the plant. Just because
there are no flowers or new shoots however, doesn't mean
the plant isn't a good buy. So, look a little closer.
Look at the roots. As the roots go, so goes the rest of
the plant. The first thing to look for is white root tips.
If there are plenty, the plant is still actively growing.
Second look for roots arising from where the stem and roots
meet or the interface. If you see new roots there, the plant
has lots of stored energy. Third, look at the bottom of
the pot and see if there is any root distortion. If the
roots are not seriously circling at the bottom, you're OK
and finally, look at what we call stem taper. If the stems
are thick where they meet the main trunk and taper as they
extend out, there is still quite a bit of stored energy
in the plant.
Don't be afraid to pop the plant out of the container and
look closely at what's going on below the surface. And remember
about the chickens. The flowers and new shoots may have
stopped, those plant parts that are at the top of the heap
but if the roots are still healthy, don't be afraid to buy.
Preserving Herbs with Jenny Watson
To make sure we have herbs year round Jenny
shares some tips from the past. Put a rubber band around
the stems and hang them upside down. Make a tent with a
paper bag, take those herbs with the rubber band holding
them together and put them in the paper bag. Cinch the bag
and hang it in a warm, dry location.
Chives - Mince them to the desired size, put them in a zip
Sweet Annie - make into a wreath. When it drys it stays
in the form you
shaped, a wreath for example. It will stay green and it
keeps its' fragrance. Grind Oatmeal and put it into a sachet.
It's great in your bath.
Vinegar - put herbs in with oil and vinegar and other spices.
in a warm location and let stand for a while. It will make
dressing, saut, etc.
Azalea Lace Bug
In late summer insects can become visible. If your Azaleas
their leaves or if the leaves are losing their color, check
the back of
the leaf. If you see black dots, it may very well be the
Bug. Spray with Insecticides, the key is through coverage,
on the bottom side of the leaf. It is best to treat in the
a note now to remember next spring.
Dr. Rick takes on the Argentine Ant.
What does a cup of coffee and
one of our most pestiferous pests have in common. Well,
a little over 100 years ago, on a coffee shipment coming
from South America, Argentina to be exact. Argentine ants
arrived in New Orleans. Since then, they have spread throughout
the Southeast and even into S. California and Hawaii.
Southerners will recognize these critters as the overwhelmingly
numerous 1/8" long typically found trailing up a tree or
into your kitchen on well-organized trails looking for food
and water. Especially with the drought we are experiencing
in so many areas of the south, these ants are coming inside
looking for moisture and food. The reason you see them climbing
up a tree is to shepard aphids and mealy bugs to obtain
the sweet honeydew the aphids exude out their backs.
The main food of Argentine ants is sugar. Inside your house,
they'll feed on any sugary substance from left over syrup
to cookie crumbs next to the frig.
The habits of the Argentine ant coupled with the fact that
they have no natural enemies, make them one of the most
pestiferous and most difficult to control ants in the US.
A single colony can consist of hundreds of thousands of
One of the most common nesting sites of Argentine ants is
in mulch commonly used in gardens and landscapes. Mulch
is the unsung hero in the southern garden serving a variety
of purposes and acting as a home for termites, cockroaches,
millipedes, pill bugs and ANTS especially the Argentine
Ant. In fact, their favorite mulch is pine straw. It tends
to provide moisture and the space between the needles creates
a perfect habitat for ant to build their nests.
Unfortunately, one of the LEAST effective ways to kill Argentine
ants is pesticide spray. They only last about a month or
so and they also kill all the beneficial insects. Also,
rain, sunlight and the fact that they don't penetrate deep
enough to do much good. Did you know that over 90% of all
insects are harmless and there really isn't a need to kill
It is not unusual for these ants to enter your house, especially
during times of hot dry weather. If they enter your house,
the best way to control them is with a product you can get
at the drug store; Boric acid. Mix this with a little grape
or apple jelly and place a dab on a square of cardboard
at strategic places around the house. Now if you see some
ants at the mixture, leave them alone. They will eat the
jelly/boric acid bait and take it back to the mound. This
ant will feed it to other ants and the boric acid will slowly
kill the other members of the mound.
There are some non-chemical practices that can be performed
to make your landscape much less hospitable and to discourage
them from entering your house as well.
Thoroughly rinse all empty containers before putting them
in the trash or recycling bin. Don't let garbage sit out
for long periods of time. Keep all vegetation (limbs and
branches) from touching the outside wall of your home. Branches
in contact with the outside walls allow ants easy, direct
access to your home. Keep mulch away from your house.Avoid
over watering mulched areas, and try to keep mulched areas
as aerated and dry, as possible to exclude mulch as primary
nest sites for Argentine ants. Keep mulch no deeper than
3" deep. Control honeydew-producing insects on ornamental
plants and, especially trees such as crepe myrtles.
That's about it. Unfortunately, there is no one solution
to rid your home and garden of these pestiferous insects.
Try some of these suggestions and stay at it and eventually
you'll get them under control.
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