I am sure that more than a few of you depend on impatiens to provide season-long color in shady containers and beds. The latest news concerning them may leave you feeling a bit frantic! Impatiens Downy Mildew (IDM) was diagnosed on flowering impatiens in Massachusetts for the first time in 2011 and then devastated plantings in 2012.
Development of IDM is highly influenced by the weather, as it is a water mold that requires moisture to cause new infections. Wet foliage, cool temperatures (especially at night) and moist air are the ideal conditions for disease development. Plants in densely planted beds, heavily shaded areas or where their leaves stay wet for extended periods of time will generally have a higher incidence and severity of the disease.
The first sign of IDM is leaves that are slightly yellow or off-color. As the disease progresses, the undersides of the leaves will have white-colored, powdery-like spores. Eventually the leaves and flowers will drop off of the plant, leaving stems with only a few tiny, yellow leaves remaining. IDM can be spread long distances by wind currents, water splash (overhead irrigation included) or by the movement of infected plants.
Infected plants should be pulled, bagged and disposed of; never composted! It is expected that IDM will be a recurring problem, as its spores overwinter in the soil and can infect impatiens planted next year.
Remember the disease triangle: a susceptible host, the presence of a pathogen and certain environmental conditions are needed for the disease to develop. Infected areas should not be replanted with impatiens, but can be replanted with other plants. This could be a great opportunity to experiment with new plants and expand your gardening knowledge! Shade annual plants like New Guinea impatiens, torenia, lobelia, and other annuals with colorful foliage such as caladium, begonias, coleus, and hypoestes are safe to reset in affected areas.
On March 29, 2013 Governor Patrick signed the proclamation that April is Lawn Care Month!
The wording of the proclamation is as follows:
“Whereas The healthy plants of both traditional and urban agriculture benefit the people and the environment of the Commonwealth and; Whereas Healthy turfgrass serves as a sequester of carbons from our atmosphere, while providing effective and affordable erosion control and; Whereas Turfgrass aids in heat and noise abatement, fire prevention and storm water abatement and; Whereas Turfgrass also aids in the fight against asthma and other particulate borne illnesses in humans by capturing airborne particles such as dust and sand and; Whereas Healthy turfgrass provides natural playing surfaces for healthful recreation by all citizens in every community in the Commonwealth and; Whereas Healthy turfgrass enhances landscapes designed by man and nature, offering both serene and peaceful outdoor space; I, Deval Patrick, Governor of the Commonwealth proclaim April 2013 to be LAWN CARE MONTH and urge the citizens of the Commonwealth to take cognizance of this event and participate fittingly in its observance.”
The good news: spring is finally here! The bad news: most lawns suffered some damage over the harsh winter months and will be in need of repair. When forsythia are in bloom in mid-April is the perfect time to reseed your lawn and to start your annual fertilization program! It’s also the perfect time to apply a pre-emergent weed control to prevent overwintered crabgrass and other pesky weed seeds from ever germinating. Lastly, in New England, it’s always a good idea to condition your soil to support healthy turfgrass by raising its pH and fertilizing with calcium.
Give us a call or stop by the Nursery for timely lawn care advice and products or information regarding our Organic Lawn Program!
Starting garden plants indoors from seed is a rewarding experience everyone can enjoy! It’s an inexpensive way to grow a wide variety of plants and a fun project to share with your kids! Take a look at Thayer Nursery’s…
8 Great Tips for Seed Starting Success!
1. Fresh Is Best. Always start with fresh, high quality organic seeds, we recommend New England Seed.
2. Use an Organic Potting Mix. We recommend Espoma Organic Seed Starter which ensures that you have a lightweight, clean and sterile medium free of insects, fungus and weeds.
3. Packets Know Best. Plant your seeds according to the depth and spacing directions on the seed packet. Cover the seeds with soil mix and tamp down gently to ensure that the seeds are held in firm contact with the soil.
4. Bottom’s Up. It’s best to water from the bottom. Place a planting container with holes into a larger pan of shallow water for a short time to make sure the potting mix doesn’t dry out.
5. Take Cover. Loosely cover your planting container with plastic wrap to retain moisture after watering. Check the moisture daily and watch for germination. Remove the plastic wrap as soon as the seeds germinate.
6. Stay Warm. For most seeds, sprouting requires a minimum temperature of 65° to 75°F and 12 to 16 hours of sunlight each day. Place your seed containers in a sunny location such as a window with southern exposure. Once the seeds sprout, turn the container a little each day to prevent seedlings from overreaching in one direction toward the light.
7. The Need to Feed. Don’t use fertilizer on seedlings until they have sprouted! In the very early growth stage, the seed provides its own nourishment. Once leaves develop, it’s time for some organic fertilizer, we recommend Neptune’s Harvest or Dr. Earth Liquid Solution.
8. Harden Them Off. Your sheltered seedlings need to get ready for the outdoors. Prior to planting, place your plants outside a few hours each day for about a week to increase their exposure to sunlight and wind. Cut back on watering a bit, too. Your plants will become heartier and better prepared for transplanting outdoors.
Start seeds 4 to 6 weeks before you hope to plant them in the garden. Cool season crops like broccoli and lettuce can go into the garden before the last frost. Warm season crops like tomatoes and peppers should not be planted until the danger of frost is past, usually Memorial Day. Lastly, look forward to enjoying the fruits (or flowers or veggies) of your labor later in the season!