Leaf and Fruit Disease Prevention

Our rainy, high humidity spring weather is ideal for the development of a number of leaf and fruit diseases. Most of these diseases can be reduced by cleaning up last year’s old leaves. The disease spores for this year’s infections are carried on last year’s old leaves. There are a number of fungicides which will also reduce or prevent diseases if applied at the correct time. Sometimes one application is all that is needed.

Roses need to be sprayed at 2 to 3 week intervals to prevent black spot, mildew and rust diseases on the leaves.

Peach and Nectarine trees need only one or two applications just as the new leaves are emerging from the buds to prevent peach leaf curl. A bad infection of peach leaf curl can reduce the fruit crop by half or more.

Weeping flowering cherries are very susceptible to shot hole fungus which attacks just as the new leaves are emerging. Two applications will largely prevent this disease.

Dogwoods and Photinia shrubs and hedges can drop a lot of leaves from a leaf spot disease. Complete leaf cleanup will largely take care of this disease. One fungicide application just as new growth starts is also very helpful.

Apple and pear scab affects both the leaves and fruit of apples and pears. Complete cleanup of old leaves will greatly reduce this disease. Biweekly fungicide applications starting with new leaf growth are necessary to completely eliminate scab. About 3 to 4 applications.

A number of fungicides are available for controlling diseases including some very effective organics. Neem oil, lime-sulfur (calcium polysulfide) and copper fungicides are three of the best organics. Daconil and Chlorothalonil are two chemical fungicides. Most effective are the systemic fungicides such as Propiconizole, Myclobutanil, and Tebuconazole. You need to check the ingredient labels to find which fungicides are included in a particular fungicide product.

Lawn Restoration

Lawns in the Pacific Northwest have a tendency to deteriorate over a few years as coarse wild grasses and weeds invade the lawn. Lawns become irregular and patchy with bare spots and a mixture of different textures of grass, weeds, moss and other invaders. We have developed a new system of lawn renovation which is a simple, inexpensive way to restore a deteriorated lawn and make it look like a newly sodded lawn.

We use a unique new machine which both aerates and removes thatch from the existing lawn. This creates an ideal seed bed for over seeding with one of our three exclusive lawn mixtures. A light topdressing with top soil firms the seed into the soil and creates a smooth level surface.

Seed quickly germinates and develops into a thick uniform lawn within a few weeks for a fraction of the cost of resodding.

3 Unique New Lawn Seed Blends

We use 3 unique and exclusive seed blends which are specially adapted to Northwest growing conditions. Most grass seed blends sold in the Pacific Northwest are varieties developed for eastern and mid-western climates (because they are cheap and readily available). They deteriorate under wet, cloudy, northwest winters.

Pristine Lawn ™ is a pure perennial ryegrass blend which contains no other grasses with a different texture. Pristine Lawn is a unique genetic selection which is completely resistant to Roundup and phenoxy weed killers. Yearly application of these weed killers will completely eliminate off-type invaders. Under regular fertilization and irrigation practices, Pristine Lawn maintains its thick, pure, uniform texture. Pristine is well adapted to sunny and lightly shaded areas, but is not a good choice for shady lawns.

Carefree Lawn ™ is a slow-growing blend of low maintenance ingredients which thrives under low maintenance practices. Carefree Lawn requires less than half as much water, fertilizer, and mowing as typical lawns. Carefree Lawn looks greener and thicker than the typical patchwork quilt northwest lawn even under a low maintenance program. The unique genetic blend of Carefree Lawn includes grasses which naturally grow slower than perennial ryegrass and mature at a lower height. In areas where a 3 to 4 inch height is acceptable, mowing frequency is once every 3 to 4 weeks. Carefree Lawn thrives under poorer growing conditions such as sloping and shady areas. Carefree lawn is more shade tolerant than ryegrass, but is not adapted to deep shade conditions.

Shady Lawn ™ is a blend which includes most of the same varieties as Carefree Lawn, with one added super shade tolerant strain. It will grow better under deep shade conditions than any other lawn seed blend available.

Cool Weather Flowers and Vegetables

It is too early to plant the heat loving flowers and vegetables which are susceptible to even light frost. Even without frost, they can be stunted and often by passed by later planted ones. With vegetables, it is easy to remember which ones like cool weather. Almost all root, leaf, stem and flower bud vegetables prefer cool weather. The main exceptions are potatoes and sweet potatoes. Even though potatoes are frost tender, they can be planted early because it takes 3 to 4 weeks for them to come up out of the ground. All of the fruiting vegetables except peas and fava beans prefer warm weather. If you have not already planted peas, carrots, onions, radishes, lettuce, spinach, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, and celery, now is a good time to plant. Seeds and plants of most of these are now available in stores. Wait until May to plant tomatoes, beans, squash, peppers, cucumbers and melons.

There are no simple categories for annual flowers, you just have to learn them one by one. Some of the more popular cool weather flowers are pansies, petunias, alyssum, lobelia, snapdragon, verbena, and sweet pea. You are better off to wait until May to plant impatiens, marigold, zinnia, ageratum and geranium. Try planting some flowers from seed directly outside in May. Marigolds, zinnias, alyssum, poppies, cosmos, nasturtium and moss rose are some of the easiest flower seeds to start outside. After planting, sprinkle peat moss, bark dust or vermiculite over the top to help keep the soil moist.

Of course all perennial flowers will tolerate cool temperatures. If you want to move or divide perennials it is best to do it early or if they are early spring bloomers, wait until after they bloom. Summer blooming bulbs such as dahlias, gladiolus, lilies, ranunculus, anemone, cannas, and callas can be planted now. Begonia bulbs are best planted in May.

Improving Soil with Bark or Compost

Many different organic amendments can be added to any soil. These include manure, sawdust, barkdust, leaves, grass clippings, weeds, straw and peat moss. Partially decayed organic materials are often referred to as humus. Compost is usually a mixture of two or more materials which have been partially decayed. Organic materials such as grass clippings, leaves, weeds and table garbage can be accumulated in a compost pile or pit and later added to the soil after partial decay.

For optimum benefit organic matter should be thoroughly mixed with soil. This usually means double spading or rototilling. Pockets of organic matter tend to remain drier or wetter than surrounding soil because water movement is restricted. Because of differences in water and nutrient content, plant growth is irregular.

Error correction: TNT Nursery, recommended in my March newsletter, is apparently no longer in business. Sorry for the misdirection. Two other good fruit tree specialists are: Raintreenursery.com and Burntridgenursery.com. Both are located near Onalaska, Washington.