Foundation sprays, leaf diseases and tomato care
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If you have been following a foundation spray
program all year, keep it up. If you haven't been, it is probably
time to start. The foundation spray program is your first line of
defense against nuisance pests in the house. It cuts down on
crickets, millipedes, spiders, ants and many others that find their
way inside. And, with the crickets singing, it's only a matter of
time before they find their way into your abode.
To accomplish a foundation spray, you would select a material
such as permethrin or bifenthrin to begin with. Then spray the
foundation and the adjacent foot or two of soil or plant
material with the spray mixture. Both these products are cleared
on most types of plants. Foundation treatments should be applied
every seven to 15 days, depending on the temperatures. The
materials break down more quickly in hot weather.
treatments won't prevent everything from getting in the house,
and they certainly won't kill things already in the house. For
insects already in the house, you have a few options. The first
is mechanical control. This is fancy language for something like
a fly swatter, shoe, vacuum cleaner, fly paper or glue boards.
The next is chemical control. This basically means aerosol cans
inside the house. The most common ones are for flying insects or
ants, although many of the flying insect killers now have
permethrin in them and can last quite a while.
Leaf diseases accelerate
As mentioned last week, fungal leaf diseases are present.
They are now making their presence felt with a vengeance. These
diseases infected trees and shrubs earlier and have continued to
develop rapidly. Adding insult to injury, we had the extremely
high winds affecting the tender leaf tissue, especially on maple
trees. Some trees are now to the point of being, well, leafless.
Anthracnose is the No. 1 fungal disease of good-quality shade
trees, and apple scab is starting to hit apples and crab apples.
There is actually a specific anthracnose disease for each shade
tree. This means sycamore anthracnose, maple anthracnose and so
To give a brief overview, these diseases are preventable but
not curable. They are seldom life-threatening to the tree or
shrub, but they can make things look rather unsightly. Many
shade trees losing a large percentage of their leaves will set
another set of leaves within four to six weeks. Apples and crab
apples are less likely to set another set of leaves, but it
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Anthracnose has different stages depending on the time of
infection. There is a bud stage, when buds are killed as they begin
to open. Next is a leaf stage, which affects only leaves. This stage
is the one we are commonly seeing, and it infects leaves and
gradually consumes the leaf. And the other stage is the twig stage,
which affects smaller twigs on trees and shrubs. This is one reason
why sycamore trees tend to have so many small branches break. The
infection leaves a brittle scar on the branch, which makes it
susceptible to breakage.
As I mentioned, once infection has occurred, it can't be cured.
The prevention part needs to begin with a regular spray program
similar to what is used for production apples. This means starting
when the leaves are just out of the bud in the early spring. The
same kind of timing applies to ornamental trees.
The main harm caused is the loss of food produced by the lost
leaves, and the loss of energy to set another set of leaves.
Fertilizer application at the lawn rate, to supply a pound of
nitrogen per 1,000 square feet broadcast, will help the tree as much
With the widely fluctuating amounts of rainfall, blossom end rot
is definitely a possibility. The best solution is to mulch tomato
plants to help even out the moisture supply and keep the roots
cooler. The problem is caused by uneven calcium amounts in the
plant. Addition of lime when you see the problem usually isn't as
effective as evening out the moisture flow for the plant by
mulching. Any material will do -- grass clippings, straw, commercial
mulch, etc.-- with 2 inches being adequate and 4 inches being
better. You may have to compensate with a small amount -- emphasis
on small -- if you use items that decompose quickly, such as grass
University of Illinois Extension, Logan County]