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Japeanese beetles making lace of a leaf. Photo: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/63879521@N00/4751305764">J. Michael Raby</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
Japeanese beetles making lace of a leaf. Photo: J. Michael Raby, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Midsummer can bring on bug blues in the garden

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We're turning the page from July to August this week. After variable weather conditions, including see-sawing temperatures and variable rainfall, a gardener might think he or she is in the homestretch. Here's hoping! But there's still time for troubles with damaging bugs to move in.

Cooperative Extension horticulturist Amy Ivy tells Martha Foley she's battling Japanese beetles, which seem to be more and more common in the region.

That, in their weekly conversation, along with some tips on when to harvest onions.

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Reported by

Martha Foley
News and Public Affairs Director

Late Blight:

There has been one more reported sighting of late blight over in Chittenden County, Vermont on potatoes. Thus far, late blight has been spotted in the east and the south of the North Country.  Although last week’s heat wave and the drier weather have helped to slow down the blight, gardeners should remain alert. If you find late blight, let your local Cornell Cooperative Extension know.

Japanese Beetles:

Japanese beetles are a perennial problem that is becoming more widespread. They tend to stick themselves on plants such as raspberries, grapes and roses. Amy Ivey describes them as, “little armored cars,” because they are fairly resistant. Usually, they gather in small hot spots, but the hot spots are getting bigger.

Insecticidal soap does not work on them. (Insecticidal soap is better for soft bodied insects. Instead, try to hand pick them. Hold a cup of soapy water underneath them and try to flick them into the cup. Ivey does not suggest using a Japanese beetle trap. Although you can kill a lot of beetles in the trap, you attract more beetles than you ever would have had in your garden. If you’re going to use a beetle trap, do not put it in your garden.

Alliums:

Trouble with garlic crops may be coming from the garlic bloat nematode. Another cause may be fusarium, which is in a lot of the soil in this area and getting worse. It makes a brown staining either on the base of the clove or up into the clove.

How to tell when onions are ready:

The more leaves the onion has, the better. Onions grow leaves until the summer solstice. As the days change, they switch production to bulb formation. You want your bulbs to be as big as they possible. But if your leaves are falling over, the plant has decided it is done and is shutting down. If your leaves are still growing and look healthy, you can leave for now. But if it’s a storage variety and you want to keep them for the winter, you want that neck just above the bulb to be narrow and dry and shrivel up. You want the result to be dry stringy leaves. If your onions are thick and pulpy at the neck and are not shutting down, you might want to push the tops over a bit to let them know they need to shut down. Make sure you let the bulbs dry. If you can let them shut down in the garden, then pull them and spread them out in a dry well-ventilated area out of the sun. Leave them there for a few weeks.

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