Like it or not, summer is quickly fading away in the rear view mirror, but there’s still a lot of activity in the garden and things that can be done and enjoyed. Just in case you’re wondering, our average frost date for the Montrose area is Oct. 7 so we have a little growing season left.
With that said, I think roses are a lot like a 2-year-old. They just don’t know when to slow down and go to bed. Reducing the amount of water they receive will help them slow down and “harden off” for winter, and don’t fertilize or stimulate them any more this year. This goes for fruit trees or Austrian pines as well.
September is a great time to plant spring flowering bulbs and garlic. You may want to add a little phosphorous or bone meal to the soil when you plant. Just don’t breathe the bone meal dust when you’re using it. Also note, bone meal might attract bears if they’re a problem in your area.
You may find large spiders making webs in your landscape or the exterior of your house. Some of these spiders and the webs that they make can be quite beautiful and unique if you take time to look closely. I know you may not like spiders, but the only one that you really need to be cautious of is the black widow. Fortunately, these spiders prefer cool, dark, undisturbed locations and not your garden. There are stories of Brown Recluse spiders, but I wouldn’t worry about them. We have very few, if any, in the Montrose area.
If your lilacs or other plants look like they’ve been dusted with a fine powder, your plant probably has powdery mildew, hence the name. Oftentimes, raking up the fallen leaves in the fall will help to control the problem. However, if you have a severe problem, a fungicide may be needed.
Maybe it’s just me, but there seems to be more than an abundance of wasps this year! I know there are several species of wasps that won’t, or seldom, harm people. They’re the good guys of the garden and do a great job of keeping pesky insects at bay. But I draw the line when it comes to paper wasps and hornets. European paper wasps fly with their legs hanging down, so they’re easy to detect when they’re flying. These guys construct nests in trees, shrubs, under the eaves of the house or other protective locations. They will kill unwanted insects but they will also kill butterfly larva, and I’ve been stung by them several times when I wasn’t bothering them in the least. If you choose to destroy the nest, a quick knockdown spray should be used in the evening when the insects are in their nest. Because paper wasps will return to the same nest year after year, the nest should be knocked down if possible. If the wasp senses where the nest was located in the past, they will probably build another nest in that spot, so wash off the area after the nest has been removed.
Thankfully, paper wasps aren’t as aggressive as hornets and yellow jackets. In fact, I’m sure yellow jackets are the spawn of Satan. They’re frequently mistaken for bees, but bees pretty much mind their own business and don’t really want to harm you. Yellow jackets usually make their nests underground in abandoned rodent holes or other cracks and crevices. I’ve found that they like to build their nests under the cover of junipers, so beware.
Wasps will be attracted to the sticky substance that aphids and scale produce. I’ve checked my plants and they don’t have aphids or scale. They simply have a plethora of wasps and hornets buzzing around them. In a desperate attempt to utilize my own yard, I’ve placed 7 wasp traps around the yard because I can’t find their nest. I put fresh bait consisting of a small piece of fruit, a small piece of meat, and pheromone attractant in the trap every few days. So far I’ve captured hundreds of yellow jackets and a few paper wasps but they just keep coming. I bet I won’t forget to put traps out early next spring so I can capture the queens before it leads to the problem that I’m experiencing this year.
If you see a large basketball-looking nest in a tree, it’s a bald faced hornet nest. Leave these guys alone or only deal with them as it’s getting dark or very early in the morning. This is when they will all be in the nest and moving slower. People often use the nest for decorations, but don’t attempt to take a nest until well after a few hard frosts and the hornets have abandoned it. They’ll build a new nest next spring so don’t feel bad about taking it.
Have you been overrun with earwigs? I’m trying to get a jump on them next season by putting out baits of soy sauce. I’ve been putting about an inch of soy sauce in a butter tub or small canning jars and setting them next to the plant in the area where I’ve seen the earwigs. I was amazed how many I would trap in a single night. And those traps also attracted and drowned a few yellow jackets as well. What a bonus!
I know a lot of people have been frustrated that they’re not getting big, juicy, red tomatoes but it’s just been too hot for them to set fruit. With the arrival of cooler temperatures they should become happy and start producing like crazy.
I saw a man walking down the sidewalk on South Townsend the other day, and he stopped in front of a building and smelled the roses. That put a big smile on my face. I hope you’ll also take time to slow down and smell the roses before they begin their long winter nap. Enjoy your late season garden!
Linda Corwine McIntosh is a Master Gardener, ISA Certified Arborist, and Licensed Commercial Pesticide Applicator.