It’s been a wet summer in the Northeast and nearly every day we seem to have rain in the forecast. The National Weather Service reports that Burlington, VT, has received 2 inches more rain than average since June 1. Campers and the beach crowd are singing the blues, but slugs and snails are grooving to “Happy Days Are Here Again!”
Slug and snail control products are flying off the shelves as our local gardeners desperately seek ways to protect their hostas, strawberries and lettuce from these slimy and voracious pests. The old homemade beer-in-a-saucer trick works for small gardens and infestations, but this year’s epic attacks call for large-scale defense. In my garden, I’ve been using Sluggo, an iron phosphate slug bait. I’ve been using it for years, and it works well. This year Sluggo Plus, an improved version that contains spinosad became available and is getting rave reviews. Spinosad, the new ingredient, is a natural pesticide that targets leaf-eating insects, which makes it effective against earwigs and cutworms. Diatomaceous earth, sprinkled around susceptible plants, also takes care of crawling insects and slugs.
Fungal diseases that spread in water droplets and wet soil are prevalent this summer, too. Every day, customers arrive at our store’s service desk with plastic bags of spotted leaves and blackened stems for identification and advice. Powdery mildew and leaf spots on roses, phlox, monarda, irises, barberry, dogwood, squash, hydrangea, fruit trees and other ornamental and fruit plants are big complaints. We keep plenty of natural Serenade and Earth-tone 3-in-1 Disease Control in stock!
In poorly drained soils, root rot is taking a toll and there’s no easy cure for it. Once the plants show the yellowing, wilting, leaf-dropping symptoms, they’re probably doomed. I’m grateful that most of my gardens are in raised beds and planters that drain readily. My lawn, on the other hand, has pools of standing water this July, a situation we usually don’t see after the spring rains abate.
Today is sunny and tomorrow looks good, too. Could it be a long-awaited weather trend? My soggy gardens certainly hope so!