Integrated Pest Management

Woody and perennial weeds can be controlled now by spraying their foliage with glyphosate or triclopyr. Plants are moving sugars from their leaves down to their roots, and the herbicide will be moved as well, killing the root system of the weed and eliminating the chance for regrowth. Don’t spray unless winds are calm. Nonselective herbicides like these could kill any plant that comes in contact with the spray, so be extremely careful. In a tight spot, apply the herbicide with a paint brush or sponge attached to a long stick.

Remember that stressed plants are more prone to disease. Be sure that your plants are in the proper location and have adequate light, water, and nutrients.

Dogwood trees can succumb to a fatal fungal disease called Discula anthracnose. The fungus spreads in cool, wet spring and fall conditions. Summer drought stresses trees so they are more susceptible to attack. Early symptoms occur on the leaves and, if left unchecked, the disease can spread into the twigs and branches resulting in cankers. To help prevent the spread of this disease, promptly dispose of all fallen dogwood leaves.

Flower flies, also known as hover flies, are important late season pollinators and predators in your garden. The tiny adults, which look like bees, are easy to see with their bright orange, yellow, and black markings. They feed on pollen and are especially attracted to asters, marigolds, goldenrod, and blue mist shrub. The immature larvae are brightly colored red, orange, and green maggots. They have a ferocious appetite for aphids, rivaled only by ladybird beetles and lacewings.

Flower flies, also known as hover flies, are important late season pollinators and predators in your garden. The tiny adults, which look like bees, are easy to see with their bright orange, yellow, and black markings. They feed on pollen and are especially attracted to asters, marigolds, goldenrod, and blue mist shrub. The immature larvae are brightly colored red, orange, and green maggots. They have a ferocious appetite for aphids, rivaled only by ladybird beetles and lacewings.

Bring your houseplants inside when night temperatures drop below 45°F. Most houseplants are from tropical climates where the average temperature during the coolest month is 64°F. Before moving them inside, spray your houseplants with a 1% horticultural oil solution to prevent insects or eggs from making their way into your home.

Look for signs of juniper webworm on junipers. The adult moth can lay 50 to 130 eggs in the late summer. During early fall, caterpillars mine the leaves on the inner foliage of the plant. This feeding is difficult to see because the caterpillars do not reach maturity until the onset of winter. It is important to act now if your junipers are heavily infested since most pesticides do not adequately control the caterpillars in the spring when they do most of their damage. In serious infestations, the mature caterpillars cover branches with their webs and eat most of the interior foliage. Carefully check interior foliage now, separating the branches to look for silk webbing and, small tan caterpillars with brownish red stripes. Prune out the webs and brown foliage. If caterpillar populations are high you may want to apply a pesticide containing Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt).

Home Landscaping Practices to Protect Water Quality

In Virginia, we rely on reservoir systems, wells, and other sources for our freshwater. In recent years, our previously plentiful clean water supplies have been threatened not only by overuse, but also by contamination. Pollutants are carried down with water soaking through the soil to the water table. Runoff (water that does not soak into the ground) flows over the surface, often taking soil and polluting chemicals with it into lakes and streams.
Home lawns and landscapes may contribute to this water pollution when homeowners apply pesticides and fertilizers carelessly. By using pesticides and fertilizers properly and only when necessary and following recommended landscape practices, you can do your part to protect our lakes, streams, and drinking water for the future.

Identify the Problem before Using Pesticides
When diagnosing a plant problem, remember that most problems are not caused by insects or disease. Severe cold or heat, waterlogging or drought, lawn mower damage, and carelessly applied herbicides frequently injure plants. Pesticides will be useless for these kinds of plant damage.
Be aware that even if an insect or disease is present that may not be the cause of your plant problem – the original source of damage to your plant may no longer be present. Also, poor growing conditions can make a plant more susceptible to pests and are often the cause of “pest” problems.
If you determine your problem is caused by a pest, identify the insect, disease, or weed before choosing a pesticide. Ask yourself: Is the injury severe enough to require control? If so, what options are available? Is chemical control the best option? Can the pest be controlled by a; pesticide at this stage of its life cycle? Is there a pesticide labeled for use on the plant involved and effective against the pest?
Often no pesticide is required for proper control – but if needed, the right pesticide must be applied at the right time to control a particular pest.
Refer to expert information. Talk to your Extension agent, or an experienced horticulturist at your local garden center – or check the symptoms against a good chart or reference book.
Use Pesticides Properly
Plan ahead to eliminate or reduce storage and disposal problems. Buy only what you will need for one season. Purchase pesticides in formulations with minimal packaging, if possible. For example, some herbicides are now available in a tablet form that can be dissolved in water.
Always read the label completely before spraying. Measure accurately and according to label instructions. Mix only the amount needed to do the job at hand. Follow the label’s instructions for application method and safety measures. Note specific warnings and precautions – they are there for your protection!
Never spray near water or when there is wind. Pesticide can drift directly into streams or drainage ditches, polluting our waterways. Pesticide may also drift into unintended areas, damaging desirable plants.
Buy and mix only what you will use – unused pesticide is difficult to dispose of properly. Never pour pesticides down the sink or into storm drains. If you have extra pesticide mixed, to dispose of it legally you must spray it on plants listed on the label at no more than the allowable rate. This means you cannot respray the same area (this would exceed the allowable rate) and you cannot spray excess pesticide labeled for tomatoes on the lawn (unless home lawns also happens to be listed on the label). Consult your Extension agent for advice on disposal of excess or unusable pesticide.
Clean liquid containers by rinsing the contents into the spray applicator when you mix the last batch. To rinse, fill container about one fourth full with clean water, recap tightly, and shake. Allow 30 seconds for the container to drain between each rinse. Repeat three times.
Dispose of empty containers as directed by the product label. If possible and appropriate, break or puncture the container so it will never be reused. Containers destined for a sanitary landfill should be wrapped securely in newspaper before disposal.
Apply Fertilizer Properly for the Best Result
Always apply fertilizer at the right rate and time. See your local Extension agent for recommendations. Too much fertilizer or fertilizer applied when the plant cannot take up the nutrients can damage plants and contribute to water contamination.
Calibrate your spreader for each type of fertilizer so you can apply the right amount.
Have your soil tested for fertility and acidity/alkalinity, and follow recommendations on the soil test report. See your Extension agent for forms and instructions.
Use slow-release fertilizers for most ornamental plants, including lawns, especially in areas with sandy soil. These fertilizers are less likely to allow nitrates to wash through the soil into the groundwater.
Sweep spilled fertilizer off pavement before it is washed away by rain or irrigation. Nitrogen and phosphorus from fertilizers have’ been associated with many environmental problems, including excessive algae growth, depletion of the water’s oxygen supply, and suffocation of aquatic life.
Reduce Erosion
Because soil sediment makes up most of the pollutant carried by runoff and most of the phosphates and pesticides entering Virginia’s waters are attached to this sediment, controlling erosion will help control water pollution. Landscaping can help control erosion by holding soil in place and reducing runoff.
Plant a vigorous ground cover on steep slopes to reduce erosion and runoff. Turfgrass is often impractical here because mowing is difficult and dangerous on steep terrain.
Build terraces or a retaining wall on slopes. These can intercept runoff, giving water time to soak into the ground, and can make attractive planting beds. Be aware that altering the soil level near established trees can seriously damage their root systems.
Don’t leave soil bare over the winter. Plant a cover crop, such as annual rye, or place mulch on the soil.
Use Good Landscape Practices
By taking good care of your landscape plants, you can reduce the need for pesticides that could potentially endanger water quality. Good planting and maintenance practices can also promote healthy, attractive plants that can add value to your property.
Mulch with shredded bark or other organic material around planting beds, trees, and shrubs. Mulch helps keep down weeds, protects trees from lawn mower wounds, helps reduce erosion, and protects roots near the soil surface from hot, dry summer weather.
Prune dead or diseased branches out of trees and shrubs.
Use the right plant in the right place. Placing plants where they will do their very best can help reduce pesticide needs. For example, planting a rose in full sun with good air circulation can reduce black spot.

Keep your Lawn Healthy
A properly maintained lawn looks beautiful and also helps protect water quality. Healthy grass needs less pesticide and will be better able to take up fertilizer, reducing the chance of pollutants washing through the soil and reaching our water supplies.
Mow high and often. Setting your mower at the highest recommended level for your grass type (2 1/2 to 3 inches for Kentucky bluegrass and fescue, I inch for, bermudagrass) helps keep out weeds, especially crabgrass, and makes your lawn more resistant to drought and disease.
Leave grass clippings on the lawn. They add nutrients to the soil, lessening the need for commercial fertilizer. Clippings also add organic matter, helping to reduce runoff.
Fertilize cool-season grasses (Kentucky bluegrass, fescue, ryegrass) in the fall. Fertilize warm-season grasses (bermudagrass, zoysiagrass) in the summer.
Follow Virginia Cooperative Extension guidelines for fertilizer rates – more fertilizer is NOT better.
For more information on selection, planting, cultural practices, and environmental quality, contact your local Virginia Cooperative Extension office.

Grilling Basics, 101

Okay, so now that summer has practically drawn to a close (where did it go?) and you’ve been grilling all the while, you’re asking yourself, “why is someone writing an article about grilling at the so-called-end of the grilling season?” The answer is simple: Because grilling is a year-round cooking event! (Do you only eat Chinese food in the spring–??) If it isn’t raining you can grill outdoors!

Several friends who know that I have an annual cookout involving 60 or so friends, have asked me why some thing or other didn’t turn out properly on their grills. I realized that there aren’t any books that address cooking problems simply. So, here are a few specific facts that I’ve learned over the years.

About Chicken: Folks these days are SO fat-conscious that they remove the chicken’s skin before grilling it over an open flame. BIG mistake! You see, leaving the skin on allows the chicken pieces to baste themselves — leaving behind tender, succulent pieces of meat. Anyone who doesn’t want the added calories can simply remove the skin prior to eating. I cannot remember anytime that I’ve had chicken — a breast for example — grilled without the skin, that I didn’t leave feeling as though I could have strapped the piece of meat onto my foot and walked across a dessert!

Another fact about chicken is that it is best when it has been marinated for at least 12 hours. Use your favorite salad dressing or barbecue sauce. Or a combination of oil and vinegar — for a base (aged balsamic is very good) then add a bit of catsup, garlic, basil (or oregano) salt and pepper to taste. After 12 hours in the marinade the flavor will permeate the chicken so that it isn’t only on the outside, but rather all the way through. The end result is a real crowd pleaser! An exception to that rule is when your marinade is highly acidic — like a Tandoori marinade, which includes yogurt: don’t marinate it for more than 3-4 hours because the acid will leach the moisture from the meat and you’ll be back in the leather mode.

About Beef/Venison/ Lamb: You have never experienced red meat over the grill until you’ve used Kosher Salt. Yup — that’s the ONLY seasoning you will need – – Promise. Your coals need to be hot — not flaming. Just before placing the meat on the grill, LIBERALLY sprinkle each piece on one side with kosher salt. Lay THAT side over the coals first. Before you turn the meat, do the same with the other side. Those of you who are “salt-aware” may be horrified — but the truth is that the MAJORITY of the salt cooks off of the meat leaving a tender, juicy, flavorful steak behind. Really.

About Fish: This is not exactly “straightforward”. The cooking method depends on what kind of fish you’re grilling. Is the fish firm and oily, like Swordfish? Is it a tender, flaky white fish, like Sole? The key to cooking fish on an open grill is basting. Baste with something as simple as lemon/ lime and butter, which is refreshing and delicious. If you’re cooking a flaky fish you should put down a piece of heavy aluminum foil over the grill so that pieces don’t fall through. You can also use a grilling basket, but I find that often I lose much of the juices and the fish, if I’m not careful to baste it often, may be dry. With large or whole pieces of fish, brush the cavity and exterior with olive oil or melted butter, stuff the interior with onion slivers and fresh herbs — tarragon, dill, and chives, whatever suits your fancy — salt and pepper to taste. Then seal the fish in heavy aluminum foil and grill for 6-8 minutes on each side, depending on the size of the fish. The process both steams and grills the fish infusing the flesh with the herbs you’ve chosen. Nothing quite like it!

Grilling to me is a time to have fun with cooking.. While there are a few “do’s” and “don’t” in grilling, such as those I’ve suggested above — it’s an interesting platform for foodies to experiment on. For instance, how about grilling something less obvious like fruit. Try this: In a grilling basket, over a moderate heat, place slightly under-ripe, peeled bananas which have been halved lengthwise. Baste the halves liberally and frequently with a combination of fresh lemon, rum, a smidge or two of brown sugar and melted butter. Serve over ice cream. Zowza!

Your imagination is the only limit to creating great food on the grill ALL YEAR LONG.

Holly has co-authored Chicken Dinners 1-2-3, Italian Dinners 1-2-3 (Clarkson and Potter) and several Herbs and Spice Calendars (Judd & Avalanche) with her mother, Jacqueline Heriteau. She currently resides in Sharon, CT with her three-year-old son