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Garden Checklist: Get stink bugs before they get your garden

Weather is warming up and bugs are coming out in force, including stink bugs. Stay vigilant to protect your young plants.
Weather is warming up and bugs are coming out in force, including stink bugs. Stay vigilant to protect your young plants. True Bugs

Weather is warming up and bugs are coming out in force. Stay vigilant to protect your young plants.

Watch out for stink bugs on tomatoes, squash and developing fruit. No spray is necessary; young stink bugs can’t fly. An effective way to control them is to pick them off by hand and dispose of them, preferably by dropping them into soapy water – they can’t swim. Or you can suck them up with a hand-held vacuum (but that device will forever be dedicated to bug catching). Make sure to wear gloves while hunting these pests. Stink bugs really do stink.

▪ Avoid pot “hot feet.” Place a 1-inch-thick board under container plants sitting on pavement. This little cushion helps insulate them from radiated heat and keeps roots cooler. That means less plant stress. This is especially important during drought; they’ll need less irrigation.

▪ Thin grapes on the vine for bigger, better clusters later this summer.

▪ Cut back fruit-bearing canes on berries.

▪ Can’t stress this enough: Mulch, mulch, mulch! As the weather continues to heat up, mulching helps conserve water while keeping your plants’ roots cool and moist. When applying mulch, leave a circle around trunks or main stems to avoid crown rot.

▪ Tie up vines and stake tall plants such as lilies. That gives their heavy flowers some support.

▪ If you still have room in your veggie garden, transplant seedlings for tomatoes, eggplants, peppers and squash. Look for varieties that mature in 75 days or less. Remember: They need water!

▪ From seed, it’s the right time to plant pumpkins, radishes, squash and sunflowers. Make sure to keep seedlings evenly moist.

Debbie Arrington

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