Editor’s note: “A Better Life” is a weekly column by the USU Extension – Tooele Office that focuses on a variety of topics intended to enhance quality of life.
With all the wet weather we have had you might see some things in the yard and garden you have not seen before or at least for a long time.
Fire blight, an airborne bacterial infection common in pear and apple trees, is most likely to appear during cool wet weather. It primarily enters the trees through the blossoms. It is called fireblight because the leaves and twigs turn black and look like they have been burned. I have seen some serious cases of it this spring. Ornamental pear trees, which are very popular as street trees in our neighborhoods, are not as susceptible as the pear fruit tree, but it can get it so be on the lookout if you have any kind of pear tree.
Anthracnose is another problem you might see this spring if you have a London Plane tree. Depending on the severity of the infection, it can be detrimental to the tree but usually the tree will recover from it. It causes defoliation, but usually trees will re-leaf and be OK.
Every year I notice something a little different in nature. Some years I see a greater abundance of certain plants and insects. Our state flower, the Sego lily, sometimes is very plentiful in the foothills around Tooele. This year I am noticing an unusually large number of the weedy flower, Western salsify. It is common on roadsides and waste areas. It has a beautiful yellow blossom but a large Dandelion-like seed-head. It is not native to the United States but is now established over much of North America.
I just got a schedule of timely garden tips for June from our own Extension Gardener’s Almanac. Harvesting asparagus spears should stop in early June to allow the fronds to form for the rest of the growing season. Prune tomatoes to open the canopy of the plant. Consider drip irrigation in the garden to conserve water.
Consider planting sweet corn in the garden every other week (until early July) to extend the harvest. Prune spring flowering shrubs (those that bloom before June) after they have bloomed to encourage new flower buds for the next season. Deadhead (cut off) spent blossoms of perennial and annual flowers. Thin the fruit of apples, peaches and apricots to approximately one fruit every five to six inches.
Also, apply a second application of pre-emergent herbicides in late May to early June to control annual weeds in the lawn (crabgrass, spurge…). Turfgrass only needs one to one and a half inches of irrigation water a week. Monitor vegetables and herbs for earwig damage. Protect ash trees with a registered chemical to prevent damage from the Lilac-Ash Borer. Control Codling moth in apples and pears to reduce wormy fruit. Treat for powdery mildew on apples beginning when leaves are emerging (at ½ inch green) until June.
Next, watch for insect pests in raspberries from mid-May thru early June. Control the Western cherry fruit fly when fruit changes color from straw color to pink to avoid maggots in cherries. Control the Peach twig borer in peaches, nectarines, and apricot trees. Monitor for damaging turfgrass insects. In areas previously damaged, consider a preventative (systemic) insecticide.
For insect control on fruit and specific spray timing, see our Utah Pest Advisories at pestadvisories.usu.edu. I hope you have a successful gardening season this summer. You may see some unusual things out there because of the wet spring we have had, but like I always say: “I have never complained about rain in Tooele County.”
Linden Greenhalgh is the county director of the USU Extension – Tooele County office, which is located inside the Tooele County Health Department Building, 151 N. Main, Tooele. The phone number is 435-277-2400.