Warmer weather means we can finally putter in the garden and take time to examine our plantings. Vegetables like tomatoes, eggplants and peppers might be slower to put on growth after the long cool spring, but they’ll come around. Your first tomatoes may be tough or misshapen-just the effect of buds setting in cool weather. Your plants should produce beautiful tasty vegetables from the buds that set later on. To grow wonderful tomatoes and ensure against blossom end rot, we recommend regular, even watering and Tomato-Tone from Espoma. Now is the time take steps that will ensure your success in the garden.

Don’t you wish someone else could take care of insect pests for you? A motivated and detail oriented garden helper would be just the thing. We have those! Beneficial garden insects are perfect for the task. Ladybugs feast on aphids, scale and mealybugs in your gardenYou can add a ladybug house to encourage your helpers to stay in a specific area of your garden.

Praying mantids are motivated to eat an incredible number of pests by their huge appetites. Place their egg cases where they will have some cover and close to plants where you have had infestations in the past. They tend to stay and lay eggs, for future generations of garden helpers.

Your garden is already home to many other beneficial insects. Tiny parasitic wasps destroy aphids. Green lacewings eat numerous soft bodied insect pests. Numerous pollinators ensure that our vegetable and fruit produce lots of delicious fresh things to eat. Children make excellent insect scouts, they’re closer to the ground and wonderfully curious about everything they see. My 8 year old is a great defender of all creatures and makes me prove it if I think a bug deserves squishing. We look up the insects we don’t recognize and learn about their role in our little ecosystem.

The best way to encourage beneficials is to take a gentle approach with pesticides. If you’re patient, a beneficial insect may show up to do the work of a pesticide. If you allow the beneficials to feast they will stick around to keep your pest population at bay, so your plants stay beautiful and productive.

A healthy plant can withstand a minor insect attack. Creating the best possible circumstances for healthy plants is the most important step in growing plants that withstand the inevitable stresses that occur. If you’ve started with great soil, a high quality organic fertilizer, a large enough container to keep roots hydrated, and provide even and regular waterings, your chances of success are already great.

When a pest or disease issue arises, avoid remedies that harm beneficial insects. Neem oil extract is a particularly effective control for diseases and insects that does not harm beneficial insects. You’ll find it in Rose Rx from Bonide and in a number of easy to use formulations at Hicks.

If your plants show signs of disease, we have effective, organic solutions to combat them. One of our favorites is Actinovate, one of the only fungicides shown to suppress Late Blight on tomatoes, as well as a host of other diseases on your ornamental plants and lawn. It uses a beneficial bacteria that defends plants against disease. Our staff and customers have had great success with it.

We’re so happy to offer you solutions for success and a healthy backyard ecosystem for you and your family to enjoy!