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Friday, June 21, 2019

Draw in Beneficial Insects


Attracting beneficial insects to your garden can be as easy as planting the right plants or flowers or a combination of them.





First, here's a list of ten beneficial garden insects you may want to entice into your garden and a brief explanation of their benefit. Afterwards is the list of the ten best plants to grow to make them want to visit your garden.



Ground Beetles


The diet of ground beetles can help control an over population of slugs, asparagus beetles, caterpillars, Colorado potato beetles, corn earworms, cutworms, squash vine borers and tobacco budworms.




Hoverflies

Hover Flies feed on nectar as they pollinate flowers. After their eggs hatch, they spend most of their time feeding on aphids (plant lice). 

A well-established population of hover fly larvae can control up to 70 to 80 percent of an aphid infestation. They also help to control the population of other unwanted soft-bellied insects.






Lacewings

Lacewings primarily feed on aphids, but also feed on insect eggs, thrips, mealy bugs, immature white flies and caterpillars. Immature lacewings are voracious feeders.



Spiders

Spiders get a bad rep, but they are amazingly beneficial for controlling insects that invade garden space. Spiders will eat aphids, army worms, leaf hoppers, flea-hoppers, leaf miners and spider mites. They attack the spruce bud worm, pine sawfly, sorghum midge and tobacco bud worm. 


They especially like caterpillars, thrips, plant bugs, cucumber beetles, grasshoppers, scarabs and flies.  Some insect pests are actually known to abandon an area once spiders move in.




Bees


Besides being the king insect of pollination and cross pollination, your garden will end up with more flowers and plants when bees move in.



Ladybugs

Ladybugs are predatory beetles that eat a large number of aphids (plant lice) and other harmful bugs. Even in the larval stage, ladybugs will normally consume hundreds of aphids and will grow into adults that may eat up to 5,000 aphids in a lifetime. This greatly reduces the population of harmful insects that will otherwise slowly destroy your plants.


One of the most endearing qualities of a ladybug is its appearance. The deep orange to red shell with black dots, tiny black heads and wiry antennae make this beetle look like a piece of art.






Predatory Wasps

The range of pests managed by parasitic wasps is nothing short of amazing. They effectively control aphids, scale, white lies, sawfly larvae, ants, leaf miners and several types of caterpillars and they also parasitize the eggs of several insects, including European corn borers, tomato horn worms, codding moths, cabbage loopers.


Parasitic wasps usually become active in the garden later than pest insects, and some of them are so small that they are difficult to see. One way to track their progress is to watch the aphids. The skin of parasitized aphids turns crusty and golden brown or black. These mummified aphids are a good indication that parasitic wasps are doing their job.



Now that we've covered some of the beneficial insects to draw into your garden, let's talk about the plants you can grow to draw them into your garden.



Borage

Annual that blooms in mid summer.

Beneficial Insects Borage Atttracts:  Ground beetles, hover flies, lacewings and spiders.



Cilantro


Annual herb that blooms in early summer.  Any spring planted Cilantro, Arugula or mesculum mixes are perfect as they bolt into bloom early in the season as the days grow longer.

Beneficial Insects Cilantro Attracts:  Bees, hover flies, parasitic wasps.






Coreopsis

Native perennial that blooms mid to late summer.

Beneficial Insects Coreopsis Attracts:  Bees, hover flies, lacewings, ladybugs, predatory wasps.




Cosmos

Annual that blooms mid to late summer.

Beneficial Insects Cosmos Attracts:  Bees, hover flies, parasitic wasps, lacewings, ladybugs.




Dill

Annual that blooms early summer to fall with successive sowings.  

Beneficial Insects Dill Attracts:  Bees, ladybugs, lacewings, wasps.




Fennel

Annual or biennial that blooms in midsummer.  

Beneficial Insects Fennel Attracts:  Hover flies, many species of predatory wasps.







Queen Anne's Lace

Annual or biennial that blooms in mid summer. 

 Beneficial Insects Queen Anne's Lace Attracts:  Hover flies, predatory wasps, ladybugs, lacewings, spiders




Sunflower

Native annual that blooms mid to late summer.

Beneficial Insects Sunflowers Attracts:Bees, predatory wasps, ladybugs.




Sweet Alyssum

Annual that blooms early summer to fall.

Beneficial Insects Sweet Alyssum Attracts:Bees, hover flies, lacewings, parasitic wasps.


Marigolds

Annual that blooms summer to fall with successive sowings.


Beneficial Insects Marigolds Attracts:
Marigolds, besides being beautiful and coming in several shapes, colors and sizes, they are an excellent companion plant for confusing flying insects by confusing them with their scent. 

They reduce the population of cabbage and onion maggots because the mother flies get frustrated after landing on the wrong plant many times.



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With some smart preplanning, you can draw in some beneficial insects to assure your garden is healthy as well as beautiful!




Love hostas or know someone who does?

Visit our website for great hostas at an affordable price!

SunsetHostaFarm.com




Thursday, June 20, 2019

Hostas of the Year

  




Every year since 1996, the American Hosta Growers Association has chosen the winner from an increasing number of hostas.


These hostas are usually the cornerstones of most hosta collector’s gardens making these selections a great choice for beginning collectors as well as avid hosta collectors alike. 


What makes a certain named hosta stand out to the point that it's awarded "Hosta of the Year" by the American Hosta Growers Association?



Here are some characteristics that are taken into consideration:
  • They are widely available in sufficient supply,
  • They retail for about $15 in the year of selection.
  • The hostas grow well in all regions of the country.

Here's a full list of Hostas of the Year since 1996.  We grow and sell a number of these.  Click on the hosta name to see the features of these hostas and our great prices.




1996 So Sweet




1997 Patriot




1998 Fragrant Bouquet

1999 Paul's Glory

2000 Sagae 




2001 June







2002 Guacamole



2003 Regal Splendor


  

2004 Sum and Substance






2005 Striptease



2006 Stained Glass

2007 Paradigm





2008 Blue Mouse Ears



2009 Earth Angel





2010 First Frost






2011 Praying Hands



2012 Liberty





2013 Rainforest Sunrise



2014 Abiqua Drinking Gourd

2015 Victory

2016 Curly Fries




2017 Brother Stefan

2018 World Cup

2019 Lakeside Paisley Print





Love hostas or know someone who does?

Visit our website for great hostas at an affordable price!

Sunsethostafarm.com

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Battling Slugs in the Garden

Besides being darn ugly and slimy, slugs look like snails without the shells. They love to chew on plant leaves, and if they're not battled early, they can ruin the look of your plants for an entire season.


Tips on Getting Rid of the Little Buggers!


 


The Damage Slugs Do


Slug damage can appear as multiple holes chewed through the leaves of the garden plants as shown above. The most damage will be done to plant varieties with thinner leaves that are easier for the slugs to chew, like hostas.





When are slugs active?


Slugs come out when it's cool and dark; the wetter the ground stays, the more the slugs populate it. They can also be spotted on cool, cloudy days.


Now the good part ...
How to get rid of them!



Chemical Products


There are many chemical products on the market that will kill slugs including Sluggo or Ortho Bug-Geta Snail and Slug. They do work, but for an organic garden, non-chemical approaches are favored.




Non-Chemical Approaches


If you want a more organic way of getting rid of the little buggers, here are some suggestions that work well.




Change Their Environment


You want to make it less inviting for those slug families. There are several ways you can do this. 

  • They love the moist ground, so replace the old mulch that no longer drains well to a fresh mulch which will dry out faster. This will make it less hospitable to slugs. 
  • Slugs are soft-bellied creatures. To make it more difficult for the slug to travel plant to plant, you can put down a rough-edged material like lava rocks around the plants. They won't want to crawl over that. Any coarse material like crushed egg shells will do. 
  • Place an Epsom Salt ring around the plant. Slugs won't go near that. 
  • Copper Strips. These are adhesive strips that form a barrier around pots or raised beds. When the slimy slug tries to cross the barrier, it is deterred with a small electric shock. 
  • Coffee grounds are also hard for slugs to crawl over and the caffeine is deadly to them. An added benefit is that coffee grounds are a good source of nitrogen, calcium and magnesium for your garden. 



How to Limit their Numbers


If you are already “overrun” by the slugs or had a late start in getting to them, here's t way some suggestions that will help to limit their numbers.




Trap Them




  • Place wood pieces in the area you have found slugs. Turn the boards over during the heat of the day and you'll find them resting there. Dunk them in a mixture of one part bleach to nine parts water or vinegar to kill them. 
  • Take a roll of newspaper and put a rubber band around it. Soak it in a pail of water for a few hours. Take the rubber band off and lay the newspaper in the slug area. They will crawl between the pages of the paper. Roll it up and dispose of the slugs. 


This one we've all heard about


Beer Traps


Take a shallow container and bury it in the ground next to your plant. Fill with beer. The slugs will fall into the trap and drown. Not an unpleasant way to go, I guess, and it does work for a few slugs or maybe at the beginning of the season. I wouldn't rely on this method for a large area of plants that you want to protect.



Here's one you may not have thought of






Birdhouses


The more birdhouses, the better.  Birds eat slugs, so having many birdhouses around your garden will attract birds to eat them. Some birds that will feast on slugs, beetles and mosquitoes are Cardinals, Bluebirds, Orioles and Sparrows.





My favorite way to limit your slug population:
Buy Slug Resistant plants like hostas!


What makes a hosta more slug tolerant than others is the leaf substance of the hosta. The thicker and heavier the leaves, the less appeal they are to slugs and snails.

To see a list of the slug resistant hostas that we grow and sell, click here.


Closing


Whether you buy slug-resistant hostas or use the above tips for the slug-loving plants you have, getting a handle on them early is key to a great looking garden throughout the season.


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Where to go next!











Love hostas or know someone who does?
Visit our website for great hostas at an affordable price!

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