Ask the Master Gardeners: July 2012
Guadalupe County Master Gardeners is responsible for this content, which is not edited by the Wilson County News or wilsoncountynews.com.
Q: Help! I have giant grasshoppers and they are eating everything. What can I do?
A: If they are already huge, then Doug Welsh in his Texas Garden Almanac suggests two bricks. The grasshopper is one of those insects that you need to control when they are small. Insecticide that can be used when they are half inch size does not work well when they are huge. A&M suggests row cover material to protect your plants. Colorado State suggests poultry. (They also mention that coyotes eat grasshoppers, although coyotes in your garden really are not a good thing.) In Seguin, most of us are located near open fields and this is where the grasshoppers are breeding. Howard Garrett and Malcolm Beck in Texas Bug Book list natural control such as blister beetles, ground beetles, predatory flies, parasitic flies and birds. Their organic control is floating row cover or biological control such as Nosema locustae or Beauvaria bassiana. They also suggest spraying plants with kaolin clay at night because grasshoppers don’t usually fly then.
Q: We are going on vacation. What should I do to keep my plants alive till I come back?
A: Watering can be set up automatically. Irrigate everything before you go. Set your sprinkler so that it will water on your watering day (use a timer if you don’t have in-ground irrigation.) Put the drip irrigation in your garden on a timer also. Indoor plants should be moved outside in the shade where the sprinkler system can water them. If they are not plants that will stand up to this, Welsh suggests putting them in your bathtub and watering them heavily (two to three times the amount you normally use). In a bright and sunlit bathroom, the plants can go a week without more water. I usually have all my potted plants, both indoors and out, on the porch in one area where a neighbor can water them easily.
Welsh suggests mowing and trimming your lawn at its normal height the day before you leave. Then make arrangements for someone to mow again a week later. He also suggests weeding, mulching, pruning and harvesting before you go, but if I did that, I would be too tired to go on vacation.
Q: Is July really when I should start my fall garden?
A: Yes, particularly if you want tomatoes before the first frost. If you plant vegetables from seed, allow 2 months from the seed to the beginning of harvest for beets, broccoli, cauliflower, collard greens, kohlrabi, lettuce, mustard greens, spinach, Swiss chard and turnips. Three months from seed to the beginning of harvest includes the vegetables Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, onions, acorn and butternut squash. I usually buy transplants for my winter garden so that I don’t have to worry about the vegetables quite so early. Our first fall frost for San Antonio is November 28 according to Doug Welsh and November 25 in the Famers Almanac. However, last year in Seguin November 4 was 32 degrees.
Clara Mae Marcotte is a Texas Master Gardener with the Texas AgriLife Extension. If you have a question to be answered, call the Master Gardeners at 830-379-1972 or leave a message to be answered. The website is guadalupecountymastergardeners.org. The Master Gardener research library is open Mondays from 8:30 to noon, on the second floor of the Texas AgriLife Extension building, 210 East Live Oak in Seguin.