Ann Wright: A community that gardens | TheUnion.com

Ann Wright: A community that gardens

Ann Wright
Columnist

It's very satisfying to live in a community that supports gardeners, and what a community of home gardeners we have here in Nevada County.

The Master Gardeners of Nevada County are so appreciative of all the people who came to the plant sale last Saturday at the Demonstration Garden. It was gratifying to see all the boxes and carts filled with plant starts — flowers, veggies, herbs!

The wonderful weather complemented the day and it was fun to see so many children interested in planting their favorite vegetables or flowers to encourage pollinators.

This weekend, a community of local home gardeners invites the public to tour their gardens with the 25th annual Sierra Foothills Soroptimist Garden Tour which is today and tomorrow.

Master Gardeners are scheduled to be on hand at some of the six featured gardens on the tour. This is a wonderful opportunity to see unique garden designs at various elevations in our area, and to consider what might do well where you live.

Maps and ticket instructions are on the website at: https://www.sierrasoroptimist.org/2018-garden-tour.

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Pests: The good, the bad and the ugly

There are also communities within the garden including insect pests and beneficial insects. Aphids have taken control of the plum trees in my garden.

Aphids are common garden pests, some inject toxins into plant tissue causing distortion and curling of the leaves. There are many different species of aphids and most are small, soft-bodied insects coming in many colors including green, yellow, brown or red.

Aphids cluster in dense groups on stems or among leaves. Their sucking mouth parts remove plant sap and some leave behind a sticky residue called honeydew which can harbor disease.

Ants may also be seen in the foliage among the aphid populations — ants offer an interesting arrangement where they actually help nurture the aphids. Ants feed on the honeydew, and ants protect the aphids from natural enemies.

Thankfully in my garden, in addition to a community of aphids, there is also a community of good guys.

Multiple convergent lady beetles (popularly known as "lady bugs") are also visible among the pests. These beneficial insects feed primarily on aphids; the adults and larvae may also eat whiteflies and other insect eggs. (The lady beetle larvae sort of resemble narrow armored tanks — with orange stripes.)

Other beneficial insects that enjoy aphid buffets are Syrphid flies and lacewings.

Choosing a pest management strategy should take into account the beneficial insects that may be collateral damage with the use of chemical insecticides — aphids have a number of natural enemies, so insecticides are generally not required for back yard fruit trees.

However, a sharp spray of water will help wash away aphids and their sticky residue. For control of ants, a sticky material such as Tanglefoot can be applied around the trunk of a tree. The sticky Tanglefoot should be placed on a fabric wrap or duct tape to protect the bark — the sticky goo can be placed over the wrap or tape. Ants shouldn't be able to cross the barrier of Tanglefoot to get up into the tree to tend the aphids.

Coming soon …

To further enjoy a community of gardeners, join Master Gardeners at the Grower's Market on Saturdays in Grass Valley or at upcoming free workshops.

Learn about the benefits of raised bed gardening at "How to Build Raised Beds" presented from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, May 26, at the Demonstration Garden in the Nevada Irrigation District complex at 1036 W. Main Street in Grass Valley.

Coming up in June will be workshops about lawn transformation, native plants to attract birds, and adding charm to gardens with succulents. Check the website for further details at http://www.ncmg.ucanr.org. Questions can also be posted online or by calling 530-273-0919.

Ann Wright is a Nevada County Master Gardener.

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