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(Mallory Kelley, Home Grounds REA)
Scouting and monitoring your garden for pests at least two to three times per week can greatly reduce the damage that is acquired from insects. It is also very helpful to use a 10X hand lens to help identify small insects and insect eggs. Keeping records will help identify their peak activity each season and can help you predict when peak activity might occur in future years. If you have a field of tomatoes, sample the field in a pattern that covers the entire field in a zigzag pattern. It is best to check plants along the field edges separately. Then walk into the field to begin the zigzag pattern.
The most common caterpillar (aka, worm) pests of tomatoes include fruitworms, armyworms and hornworms. Other insect pests include aphids, whiteflies, leaf-footed bugs and stink bugs. Tomato fruitworms, armyworms and hornworms may be controlled by sprays of Bacillus thuringiensis (Dipel, Thuricide, along with othe[...]
Our wet and humid summer may not have been the best for your garden, but these conditions have been quite hospitable for plant fungal and disease issues. Even as we begin to dry out and get a break from the constant rain, we are still seeing signs left behind in the garden from our saturated summer. One seemingly alarming problem that might pop up in your lawn is slime mold. While this is usually a widespread issue in late spring and early summer in Alabama, it can be seen sporadically throughout the year, and has recently been spotted in Mobile County. Slime mold slowly spreads up onto the turfgrass leaves when wet conditions persist. At this stage, slime mold might look like oil or dog vomit, depending on which type you have. Once on the grass, the slime mold produces spores that dry up into a gray or white crust, making for easy spore dispersal. Sounds spooky, but slime molds are not harmful to plants, us or our pets. Be sure you have good drainage throughout[...]
Q. My peach trees struggled this year. The fruit set was very sparse, and the fruit that did make was inedible due to disease and bug holes. Can you provide some tips to hopefully prevent a repeat of last year?Photo credit – Chris Becker, Alabama Extension
A. I am so glad that you asked this question now. For some folks, their peach trees are the last thing on their minds in fall and winter. However, there are some steps that you can take now to help alleviate a lot of problems when spring does roll around. Also, now is a great time to develop[...]
"The History of Corn" probably sounds like a topic too esoteric to be anything but a good sleep aid. The history of corn is in fact an interesting and inspiring one. Corn as we know it today is not a product of the natural world, but rather the culmination of thousands of years of human ingenuity and applied horticultural knowledge. Generation upon generation of selective breeding has produced one of the most important food crops on Earth, with more corn produced worldwide every year than any other cereal product and corn being the number one agricultural product produced in the United States. This global super crop can trace its humble begginings back to central Mexico, where it originated from a diminutive grass called teosinte. [photo credit: John Doebley, https://teosinte.wisc.edu/images.html]
How much water do you use a day? Would you believe 60-80 gallons is an average amount of water used per person per day?
There are simple habits we can adopt to conserve our water use at all times, but especially in times of drought. Watching water use in our homes makes a difference in making a limited resource go further.
Inside the home water savings:
1. Take short showers instead of baths or only fill tub ½ full.
2. Install water saving toilets and showerheads.
3. Turn the water off when brushing teeth, shaving, washing dishes, and more.
By Bethany A. O’Rear
Q. Autumn is my favorite time of year. The air is getting cooler, the holidays are just around the corner, and the leaves, even though this year’s drought has subdued the brilliant hues that we know and love, still put on a colorful show. However, all too soon, they flutter to the ground, bringing with them the annual question, “What can I do with all of these leaves?” Other than taking on the monumental task of raking and bagging, do you have any suggestions?
A. I love this time of year as well. I always look forward to fall’s brilliant display of color, but, as you mentioned, the drought has taken a toll on how vivid our fall appears this year. Additionally, it has also caused leaves to drop earlier and in greater numbers. Instead of sporadically falling over several weeks, many landscapes have seen a deluge of leaves hitting the ground all at one time.
By Andrew J. BarilIt began a week or so ago. In the middle of the night, before the rays of sunlight early Friday morning, I heard a plunk on our roof. This is a sound I know well. My wife and I have been living in our little mountain cabin for almost ten years now. I’ve heard this sound before. For the months of October and November, I will be hearing the plinking of oak acorns and hickory nuts on our metal roof.
Here at our Talladega cabin we have a host of oak trees. We have black, blackjack, cherrybark, chestnut (mountain), northern red, post, southern red, water, white, and willow oaks. We also have mockernut, pignut, and shagbark hickories along with a whole host of additional hardwoods. According to one of Extension’s publications; “Managem[...]
You see them evey year around this time, those pumpkins, squashes, and gourds with bumpy or warty exteriors in shades of green, yellow, orange, and white. Did you ever wonder how they got that way? Well I did, and I've looked into the matter, making some interesting findings to report.
Believe it or not, pumpkins are naturally warty. It was only through years of selective breeding that the smooth-hulled forms we know today came about; as this is the form that most appealed to consumers and thus proved most marketable. Some consumers value the bizarre aesthetic of bumpy pumpkins and gourds however, and so some plant breeders have worked to bring the bumps back. The trouble is, pumpkins in their naturally bumpy form aren't usually uniform in the spread and arrangement of their bumps, and so bumpy cultivars[...]
Fall is upon us once again. Although it may not feel quite fall-like to us, deciduous trees and shrubs are starting to reflect the change. Forests throughout the state are already emblazoned with shades or red, yellow, and orange, with more plants transitioning all the time. But some observant individuals may have noticed the fall flush is a bit more ephemeral now compared to years past, with some trees shedding their leaves practically the same instant they change color. What's the cause of these short-lived displays? Is the lack of rainfall in our area to blame? To answer these questions and others, we'll need to take a trip back to middle school biology class and examine the science of why leaves change color in fall.
Deciduous trees and shrubs begin their annual growth in spring, when days be[...]
Did you know that about one third of our garden fruits and vegetables, and the flower seeds we harvest from our gardens, are the result of bees? Having a garden "friendly" for bees' means it is also friendly for many other beneficial forms of wildlife, such as butterflies and hummingbirds.
Of the 2,500 or more species of bees in the U.S., nearly all are gentle and won't sting you unless they feel threatened or pr[...]
In my opinion, there are two types of gardeners: those that already are, and those that want to be. I firmly believe that anyone can garden. It’s amazing that some people contend they can’t, for one reason or another. So finding a short unofficial study of reasons why people don’t garden, I decided to share with gardeners and potential gardeners alike. And in the process, convince a few folks there are many ways to garden, one of which will work for them. (photo credit: Adrienne Bourland)
1. I kill everything I touch2. I’m under a doctor’s care for [fill in blank]3. I’m afraid gardening will hurt my [fill in blank]4. I don’t have any place to plant a garden5. I can’t stand the heat6. I can’t stand [...]
We're all (unfortunately) familiar with the red imported fire ants that have become so prolific in lawns across the southern United States. These were introduced from South America early last century through our own Mobile, Alabama on cargo ships. We might not be aware of the billions of dollars these ants cost anually in agricultural damage, pest control costs, and hospital bills from treating their painful and even potentially deadly stings. Still less familiar to most people are one of the fire ants' natural enemies, the phorid flies, otherwise known as ant-decapitating flies.
These flies, also native to South America, belong to the genus Pseudacteon, and are parasitoids of fire ants. Unlike true parasites which depend on their hosts for survival, parasitoids eventually sterilize or kill their hosts. As the name ant-decapitating fly suggests, the host insect's death might be seem as brutal.
The other day I was at a meeting in the Birmingham Metro area. The reason for this meeting was to see what community leaders thought I needed to cover in my educational programing for 2017. I try to keep in touch with the pulse of the community which I serve, but at this meeting I was totally caught off guard. My subject area is Forestry, Wildlife, and Natural Resources. My specialty is forestry; to which I owe a 35 year career. Walking into the meeting, I expected community leaders say they wanted to hear more about nuisance wildlife. Many of you have written me, thanking me for my articles on armadillos, chipmunks, squirrels, etc. Dealing with nuisance wildlife is the number one thing I do in the Metro. However, at this meeting, community leaders stated they wanted to hear more about invasive species.
Throughout the county, the US Forest Service conducts a survey of forestland. One fifth of the acre[...]
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