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June 2013 Newsletter

Viola’s News

Summer has finally hit Flagstaff! With warmer days and equally warmer nights, the time to garden is now! As June continues to warm-up, it is a great time to be planting. Just keep a wary eye on the weather, many Flagstaff garden veterans will attest to witnessing a freeze as far into Summer as Father’s Day (June 16).

We highly recommend visiting us in the store; it’s an explosion of color! With our new layout and the constant arrivals of new flowers, veggies and shrubs, we have never looked better! Make sure to stop by the in-store raised bed vegetable garden, we may even have some tempting edibles that might make it to your dinner table.

Tomato Fest 2013 was a big success! A big Thank You to everyone who came out to support us and our love for the little red vegetable! We look forward to seeing everyone at next year’s Tomato Fest!

This weather is what we here in Flagstaff have been waiting for, warm nights that even warmer days that help speed the growth of all the flowers and vegetables. So go out and put some color in the garden! We have flowers arriving every week in order to give you the best variety of blooms in town.

What's Buggin?

This month we have an insect triple-header, with the wind and heat making conditions already tough for plants we are going to discuss Grasshoppers and two of my favorite beneficial insects, Lady Bugs and Praying Mantis.

Grasshoppers, the bane of every gardener in Northern Arizona. It doesn’t matter if you live in Katchina Village or Doney Park, you will probably see Grasshoppers in your garden. These guys are hostile, destructive and will consume just about everything edible, no I’m not describing your average teenager, these are Grasshoppers.

Are you noticing a sudden vanishing act among your plants? Chewed leaves and sticks where once a lush garden was? Probably Grasshoppers, these little guys are voracious eaters that will feast on nearly everything in the garden.

Grasshoppers have three stages of life, egg, nymph and adult. As a younger adult grasshopper, nymphs shed their outer shells in order to grow larger. Grasshoppers, locusts and other members of the family Orthoptera are the most destructive insects to small and large gardens. They hit just about everywhere in town and can significantly damage or destroy garden plants. In years with a large grasshopper population, they can considerably damage even trees and shrubs in their search for food.

What to do about these invasive critters? For grasshoppers there are two general methods used to get rid of the hoppin’ nuisances. The first method is the Viola’s Old-Time Grasshopper Eliminator, this is a method developed by citizens who have become aggravated with their grasshopper infestation. It is comprised of a mixture of wheat bran and carbaryl dust. A gallon of dry bran is mixed with a half cup of carbaryl dust, and mixed with water and spread around. The bran is used to attract grasshoppers and when they ingest the bran they eat the carbaryl dust as well, and BAM! dead-as-a-doornail grasshoppers. This method does use a potent insecticide, which, when used as intended is not harmful to pets and humans.

The second method uses a single-celled parasite to infect and cripple grasshoppers. Nosema locustae is a parasite that when ingested, will work to kill grasshoppers by crippling them and allowing the natural cannibalistic tendencies of grasshoppers to pass the parasite along to the next generation. Pre-packaged mixtures of the parasite and bran (called NoLo Bait) are sold in different quantities, depending on how big of an area needs to be treated. This method is an organic alternative that can take up to 4-6 weeks to be effective.

Beneficial Insects:

Lady Bugs and Praying Mantis are both great additions to the garden. These little guys are both beneficial as they eat insects that eat your plants.

Lady Bugs are oval shaped beetles that normally sport a red coat with black spots. They will eat small soft-bodied insects in the garden. Aphids, spider-mites and scale are among the favorite meals for a Lady Bug. With a fast reproductive cycle and an aggressive appetite for aphids, they make an excellent organic alternative to spraying the garden to be rid of pests.

Praying Mantis are also a great way to control unwanted insects in the garden. When the egg cases of Praying Mantis hatch, they can release over 200 individual Mantis into the garden. With lightning quick reflexes and a nearly insatiable appetite, these guys will eat nearly anything they can overpower. As smaller Mantis this includes caterpillars, aphids, small beetles, and leafhoppers. When larger, they can consume grasshoppers, larger beetles and crickets and various other insects. They are a great beneficial insect to add to your garden, both valuable and educational for young gardeners. They can even be kept as pets! I even kept a Mantis (Perry) through the winter as a pet, feeding her crickets.

!Warning! When hatching Praying Mantis, be aware that small Mantis are extremely voracious eaters, often consuming siblings and cannibalizing other small Mantis. Make sure young Mantis are released immediately after hatching in order to reduce cannibalism.

Petal Pushing

What’s that flower?

Around town, especially on the East-Side, near the Mall there are clusters of upright red-orange and purple flowers. They are drought tolerant native perennials that are hardy for Flagstaff. They are known as Penstemon, or Beard-Tongue. Penstemon are a widely diverse family of flowers, with native and cultivars in nearly every color.

Drought-tolerant and sun loving these tall spikes of loose flowers are a great addition to any native or wildflower garden. The two varieties that are commonly seen are Firecracker Penstemon (orange-red) and Rocky Mountain Penstemon (purple). With tubular flowers that attract butterflies and hummingbirds Penstemons are among the favorites for Flagstaff gardeners.

Back To Basics

With the vegetables being planted, a good fertilizer is key for adding nutrients back into the soil. From the same makers of our favorite plant food Yum-Yum is the Tomato & Vegetable Food. With a gentle blend of fertilizers that work together to enhance the soil process, produce stronger roots, healthier plants and more fruit, this fertilizer is made for hard producing veggies. The Tomato & Vegetable Food is a great product that combines many beneficial ingredients that don’t have to be purchased individually. This is a great one step fertilizer for all the vegetables in your garden.

Water Wise

With the immediate arrival of Summer, we are becoming more confident about being finished with freezing nights. Now we have the sweltering heat to contend with. That’s right, it’s time to head outside and water. Remember to water accordingly, the Summer days can dry out your plants fast! A good mulching layer will help cut down on plants drying out.

For the beautiful hanging baskets, be extra vigilant. Wind and sun can suck the moisture from a hanging basket faster than you think. Daily watering is recommended for most hanging baskets, with a check up later in the day to ensure they haven’t become dry.

The Monsoon moisture will be here soon enough and usually throws watering schedules off a bit. Just a reminder folks, a quick, small downpour may not water evenly or thoroughly, so make sure to check the soil before foregoing a watering session.

What to do?

  • Great time to plant with Monsoons right around the corner!

  • Inspect watering systems and make necessary adjustments with the warmer weather. Be aware of any leaks or repairs that need to be made.

  • Fertilize! Now is a great time to feed flowers, vegetables and lawns. Lawns will benefit from an application of Corn Gluten before the Monsoon’s arrive, this pre-emergent will prevent any new weeds from popping up after the rain.

  • Dead heading! Keep on cleaning your flowers to encourage re-blooming all Summer long.

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