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Easy to be green: Saying good-bye to the tastes of summer

By Quentin Stocum

The tastes of summer are quickly disappearing.

Corn on the cob doused in melted butter and covered with salt is history. Soon real tomatoes will be a thing of the past, to be teased by the anemic look-a-likes in the grocery store.

The resident humming birds, along with the monarchs, are making their long trek south for the winter. The robins now are only seen in the evenings taking a rest, refueling for another leg of their journey.

The flowers are fading, having lost their youthful look of early summer. Yellow jackets, having lost their regular food source, are looking elsewhere for food. All over, Mother Nature is preparing herself for the long winter haul.

There has been some encouraging news lately in the battle that is currently raging in the eastern section of the state and some of the surrounding states. The spotted lantern fly may have met its match.

The best part in all of this battle against the spotted lantern fly is that no pesticides will be used. It appears that this invasive pest, that could destroy the wine industry and harm fruiting trees, has met its downfall in the form of not one, but two native fungi. Studies are currently in the process and actual field test are being conducted by Penn State.

Let’s go for two for two on some more encouraging news. During all my years as a Master Gardener and after I left the program, one of the many complaints I have heard was about Japanese knotweed. What can be done to rid my river lot of this plant, a constant refrain that I heard over and over?

Now I can finally say that there is hope on the horizon and chemical control is not part of the solution.

Aphalara itadori, the Japanese knotweed psyllid, is a species of psyllid from Japan which feeds on Japanese knotweed (Reynoutria japonica). There are many species of this sap sucking insect, but this insect, as its name implies, will feed on the Japanese knotweed.

USDA, after exhausting tests, has determined that the psyllid is not a threat to any native plants. Hopefully this will be successful. It certainly would be nice to get our river and stream banks back to their original state.

Okay, let’s go three for three on the good news.

We have seen the mass die off of the ash trees due to the infestation of the emerald ash borer. The emerald ash borer larvae basically girdle the tree underneath the bark, eventually cutting off the flow of water to the leaves, killing the plant.

Without trying to go into any great detail, it has been discovered that some ash trees that had been part of a totally different study, did not die when others in the study did. Researchers are now trying to determine why these trees were resistant.

Guess what? How about four for four! This is somewhat related to the three for three as it deals with the ash trees.

The Maine Forest Service is releasing a parasitoid wasp to combat the war against the emerald ash borer. The wasps will feed on the emerald’s borer, killing it.

I ran across an article from the Patriot-News that confirmed what we have been seeing here in our gardens. Butterflies by the bushel, well not actually by the bushel, but hundreds of all different varieties from large to small, were going from flower to flower, competing with the bees and the hummingbird. Hopefully many of you had the same experience.

According to the Patriot-News and my observations, this has been a good year.

You know that every now and then a good ranting and raving is good for the soul. The famed scientist, Albert Einstein, is reputed to have said that if bees were to disappear, humans would have four years to live.

It is no wonder that The Science Times has an article naming bees as the most important living being on this planet. Much of our food that we eat would be gone and many animals that we also eat would be hard pressed to survive.

Bees are very sensitive to their surroundings. The article stated that almost 90 percent of the bee population has disappeared in the last few years. With recent events in Washington that has rolled back environmental protections, if left to stand, will mean dirty polluted air, waterways ruined now that pollutants can be dumped into the water and uncontrolled use of pesticides that will kill off any living insect.

Years of slowly making the earth healthier, gone by a stroke of a pen. Rant over.

Back to some really good developments, Minnesota Public Radio reported that there is a program, (Lawns to Legumes) in the works to help homeowners turn their lawns into a pollinator habitat.

Funding is made available for interested homeowners who want to help make a change and to help save endangered pollinators. Read this link: https://bwsr.state.mn.us/lawns-legumes-program-your-yard-can-bee-change.

Every year I swear the amount that I spend on plants could pay a year’s tuition for a student to go to an elite Ivy League school. Well, I exaggerate a little, but I do hate to see plants get killed by a frost.

This year I bought some calla lilies that did rather well, until the invasion of Japanese beetles. I didn’t realize that the pest liked calla lilies.

You can save the rhizomes (bulbs). Remove them from their current location and cut off the foliage to about three inches. Try not to harm the bulb (it is easier to type than rhizome), check the health of the bulb and then wash to remove all soil.

Place the bulbs on a tray to air dry for a few days. Do this in a sheltered location, a garage or a sheltered porch out of the sunlight.

Next you will place the bulbs in a paper bag, not plastic, with either peat moss or vermiculite, not allowing the bulbs to touch.

Come spring, if the bulbs survived plant in the ground after the last killing frost or pot the bulbs in containers. Gee, I may have saved me from buying a text book.

Speaking earlier of Monarchs migrating, we had the pleasure of seeing migrating Monarchs by the hundreds that were resting at the Magee Marsh Wildlife Refuge on Lake Erie in Ohio. They were resting after their flight across the lake from Canada. Amazing!

Please feel free to ask me questions. Your questions give me material about which to write. Email me at qstocum@gmail.com or if you see me out and about, stop and talk to me. I thank everyone who has contacted me.

Remember, it is easy to be green. Happy Gardening!

Quentin Stocum, Just Your Common Ordinary Gardener.

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Quentin Stocum, “just your common ordinary gardener,” can be reached at qstocum@gmail.com.

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