About the SFMGA

Saturday, September 01, 2001

CRITTER OF THE MONTH: Fall Webworm

Fall Webworm wins the award for this one, most appropriately. But how do we rid ourselves of it? Many sources say we should cut out infected branches, but since webworm returns every year, we may end up without trees if we keep doing that.

The best solution is to get a ladder, some protective gloves and glasses and remove the webs by hand. Once the web is removed, a light spray of BT, Diazinon or Malathion should kill any existing worms on surrounding limbs. Always have someone help you in high spots!

FLOWER OF THE MONTH: TULIP

In Santa Fe, fall is a beautiful time of year. All around things begin to change colors and take on different forms of life…and death. Soon Hyde park will glow. In the aura of the changing of the aspens, the temperature will drop and so will all the leaves. It is a colorful, inspiring process when it occurs here.

Fall doesn’t have to be a celebration of death, though. There’s a lot to do in the fall, by way of gardening. It’s the time of year to plant again. Bulbs, especially, but perennials do well when planted in fall too. Almost immediate dormancy allows the energy of the plant to be directed toward root growth. For most plants, the following year’s bloom is much more magnificent.

This month’s flower of the month is the TULIP. Not because it is in bloom, but because it is one example of life amidst all that is coming to an end in this season. It’s time to begin life in the garden now…for next year’s beauty. What better flower to honor, but the Queen of Spring herself.

Tulip bulbs come in a variety of colors and sizes and take no extra water. They should start filling our local nurseries soon, so get out your paintbrush and plan a bold sheme of color with bulbs in your garden next year.

Wednesday, August 01, 2001

FLOWER OF THE MONTH: Taramahura sunflower

Although sunflowers can be invasive and toxic to surrounding plants, in the desert, they are the boldest color we can get late summer. Their big, bright, yellow faces lead us into the crispness of the golden colors of autumn as they line the highways and stand tall above all the retiring flowers in the garden.

My favorite is the Taramahura sunflower. For it is not just big, bold, bright and yellow, it also has a turquoise ring in the center of the flower that makes it uniquely different. I got mine in seed form from Seeds of Change, a local organic seed company, but I’m sure many other seed companies carry them too.

CRITTER OF THE MONTH: LEAF ROLLERS

Last week I was in one of my gardens, and from afar I could see a plant in the corner that I had never noticed before. Excited to have one be so kind as to volunteer herself in my yard, I walked over to get a better look. Low and behold, it was not a new plan at all! It was a defoliated hollyhock that looked like it was wearing a mask. The villain was a couple of black and gray caterpillars that spun a web around the leaves of the plant sitting next to the disguised one. They are called LEAF ROLLERS and can be treated in two ways.

One way is with natural enemies such as birds and parasitoid trichogramma wasps, which may be introduced to the garden. Another method is dusting with Bacillus thuringiensis (BT) on a routine basis. Beware, though, they are not always black and gray; the name is given to many different species of caterpillars that roll foliage around themselves and spin sticky webbing as they roll. Go get ‘um before they get you!

Friday, June 01, 2001

FLOWER of the MONTH: gaillardia

Because it is in bloom everywhere one looks now, I’ve chosen gaillardia as this month’s flower. It’s bright rd and yellow show of color looks quite like a firework display, just in time for 4th of July celebration. Also called blanket flower, it is suited to zone 4; however, seems to like it here in our high desert where it tolerates adverse conditions with average soils. Once established, it requires low water and the flowers are perfect for cutting. Plant gaillardia in the middle of the garden to add warmth and lots of color all summer and early fall.

BUG of the MONTH: Earwigs

Earwigs are having Thanksgiving Feast in my gardens these days, munching on the lamb’s ears, echinacea, hollyhocks and roses. A good cure for these little critters is Bug-B-Gone dust or an insecticide with diazinon sprayed in the evening. Chemical-free remedies include rolled up, damp newspapers set on the ground as traps or a low-sided can filled with ½” vegetable oil may be used as well. Both may be discarded once full. Happy hunting!