As you probably know by now Spotted Lanterfly is an ongoing problem in our area. It is killing our plants, including our precious grapes (Nooo, don't take our wine!!!) So what have we learned in the past couple of years of dealing with this issue?
Penn State Extension is working diligently with research and development on the issue. In August Penn State released some research about some fungi that are able to kill the Lanternfly naturally.
Why take advantage of naturally occurring solutions? Because we don't have to rely on harsh chemicals that can have adverse effects on bees. This is important to us at County Line as we are committed to the environment. It will take some time before the research turns into a marketable product, so we can't get too excited just yet.
What can you do now?
In early spring you will see grey egg masses on trees, other natural surfaces or unnatural surfaces such as vehicles. That is why it's so important to check your vehicle before leaving a quarantined area such as ours. With those egg masses, you should scrape them off with an old credit card or something of the like, submerge in alcohol or vinegar, or just tie them up inside a bag and trash it.
The next stage we'll see starting around May will be the young nymph stage. They will crawl up the trees. One treatment would be Fertilome's Fruit Tree Spray concentrate with Neem Py or the ready-to-spray Fertilome Triple Action Plus with Neem. We use these products for a ton of issues you might encounter in plants. This is an environmentally safer product when used properly.
Another method would be a sticky tape that can wrapped around the tree to catch the Lanterflies as they crawl over the surface. We use Dalen Protective Tree Wrap and Treekote Tree BandingGum. It's important to note that you should create a safety chicken wire cage to protect other wildlife from becoming attached if you're using this technique.
At the end of the summer into fall we'll see the adult Lanterflies. They are not great fliers, but they are fast! If you see one, squish it! Perhaps it can help with stress release? Make it a game. See who can get the most! There's even an app called Squishr where you can compete against other people!
Think you've got what it takes to get a top score??
Systemic methods are a last resort as these chemicals will kill all bugs that feed on the tree, good or bad. If you go this route, we recommend only in the fall when the trees are done flowering and attracting pollinators quite as much. But be warned that some systemics claim to last 12 months, so some may still be a problem in spring.
Houseplants continue to grow in popularity. More people want to merge the outdoors with their inside sanctuary. The most popular houseplants have big, showy leaves, unique leaf shapes, and colorful, variegated patterns. Here are a few of what we expect to be our biggest sellers this season:
All of you plant moms and plant dads, which one of these beauties would you take home? Me, i'll take 1 (or maybe 3) of each! I'm working on creating my own "urban jungle".
What's that, you ask? Basically a space in your home that's overrun with houseplants. Sound familiar? You may have your own urban jungle and don't even know it! Does that make us the monkeys?
If you're like me and itching to get into the garden whenever possible, here are some beautiful early bloomers to look out for.
I hope you're taking some time to enjoy your yard this spring. Clayton made this arrangement using all different varieties of Hellebores from his yard. He used a shallow dish/plate to float his flowers in. This is his favorite way to display Hellebores.
I know that I'm only skimming the surface with these early blooming options. There are tons of great blooms to look for right now. Will you create an arrangement from your garden like Clayton did?
The most natural way to do it!
Everything that happens underground is most important. Everything above ground will follow if you take care of the soil first.
So what steps can you take now?
1. Add amendments to the soil.
Bumper Crop is our favorite product for adding nutrients. A blend of lobster shells, manure compost, worm castings, kelp, peat and aged bark. Inoculated with endo and ecto mycorrhizal fungi to improve root function. Everything your plants need in one bag!
2. Mulch your beds.
Mulch will protect the soil from frying in the hot sun. It will also protect the earthworms which we need to aerate the soil. A good mulch like our Super Duper Mulch, mixed in-house with compost, will eventually break down and become humus. Therefore, it will contribute more organic matter to the soil. Some mulches do a better job of this than others. We suggest our Super Duper Mulch for this humus-y bonus.
This year, with such mild weather, even some of my weeds have stayed green. Finally, they have a purpose!
Bulbs are already showing their noses above ground. The aardvark, or whatever Phil is, says we are having early spring. And I am thinking about my gardens already. So....I guess we will be dumped on with a huge snowfall any day now.
Did that sound cynical? It sounds like someone who has been fooled too many times! But the poet in me is still thinking about looking for buds on plants anyway. Here are some of my favorite harbingers.
You can find many more options on our PLANT FINDER and even make and print your wishlist to bring in when we re-open in March!
I love these trees because they are one of the first plants in my garden to produce beautiful and fragrant late winter flowers. They are understated and underused, and that's a shame. Here are a few of my favorite varieties that I think you will love too:
One of my favorite trees ever! Of course, I say that about a lot of trees, but I do mean it. Their big, romantic flowers look like they are straight out of a fairy tale. Who needs magic when we get spring blooms?! They are one and the same in my opinion.
Don't forget to check out our Plant Finder for more great ideas and in depth details on each plant!
What is your favorite spring bloomer?
You've planned out what veggies to plant this spring, and now you need to know how to get started.
Seeds or plants?
That depends on the plant. Because our area in the suburbs of Philadelphia doesn't really warm up until May, we don't have a long enough growing season to sow some plants' seeds directly in the ground. Some plants need several months to mature. One option would be to start them from seed in your home. This is a good idea if you have the room and bright light. Many people like this approach if they plan to plant a lot of veggies and want to save some money. You will still need peat pots or other small containers to plant in, lightweight seed soil, and maybe a grow lamp if you don't get enough light in your home.
Luckily for you, we sell vegetable plants that were already started in a local greenhouse. And it's not as expensive to start from plants as you might think! Most of our veggies are 5 for $15! That's a good size garden plot! Plus, it's perfect for those of us that procrastinate...
Want some instant gratification? Try some cool weather veggies that are ready to harvest right when they arrive to our greenhouse in April! Lettuce, kale, spinach, and other leafy greens, including salad mixes grown all together in one pot!
All other vegetables should be planted after the last frost.
Marietta has been writing about garden related subjects for 9 years.