Our yards and gardens are sopping wet. We get what seems like a half a day of sun then the storms come. It's been seriously wet, in some areas six inches over our typical rainfall, and typical plants in the southeast prefer to get wet and have a chance to dry out in the hot sun. Without that combination we are seeing all kinds of problems in our yards.
Downey mildew is a fungal disease and very widespread in this weather. You'll see more bugs in weather like this, like aphids. Garden store owner Damien Stumlers says the best thing to do is take a clipping of your problem plant to your local store in a closed baggie, that way if you have bugs, they won't spread to plants in the store.
"Good housekeeping," is Mary Mitchell's best advice. The garden expert at Blackhawk Hardware in Charlotte says we have to stay on top of the gardens the minute we spot a problem. "It can be overwhelming but you just kind of need to stop and deal with the worst problems that you see and try to get that under control and then go on to other things," Mitchell says.
Mary is known around town as the Gardening Grandma, she jokes that she's gardened all her life. She says her family has gardened for generations! She says when you have a problem, it's best to tackle it with the gentlest remedy as possible. She likes to use what her grandparents used, soap and baking soda combos with water and oil. "Baking soda is good for some things, it's really a question of some water, some oil, sometimes you can put a couple tablespoons of baking soda in with that, there are all kinds of home remedies that our ancestors have been using with success for generations."
I found a great web site, eartheasy.com, that promotes "Solutions for Sustainable Living". They've got a page of homemade garden remedies that are inexpensive and use things we already have at home. Even Mitchell is old school, she says before reaching for chemicals; use the tried and true remedies. "It's amazing sometimes if you're diligent about it the simpler things that aren't going to affect our environment can take of the problem."
We spend a lot of time and money landscaping our yards, take the time to check on those plants weekly, and Mary says you'll fall in love with gardening even more, and keep ahead of any problems!
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