Flea Beetles are here

I have gotten reports of flea beetles in high numbers attacking early set broccoli, kohlrabi, and related plants in gardens. Other plants which they have a preference for include radishes, cauliflower, alyssum, cabbage, and spinach. If left unchecked, they will damage transplants and may completely consume small, young plants.

The fleas beetles we see most commonly are very small, shiny black insects which when disturbed will jump quite far. This is where the name “flea” beetle comes from. They are not only a garden problem, but are also a problem in agriculture. They have preference for feeding on canola and mustard. Since we have these crops grown in our area, the number of flea beetles can be very high. When plants are in the seedling stage, unless checked closely, can be completely consumed in a matter of hours by the beetles.

Control options include the insecticide Sevin and sprays or powders containing permethrin. These will give good control but repeat applications may need to be made as they have fairly short effectiveness. Read and follow label directions. An organic alternative is Diatomaceous earth. Be sure to get good coverage with the DE on the plants. If the plants are wet, it will help the DE stay on the leaves and be more effective repelling the flea beetles.

Mowing height affects lawn health

We all want an attractive, weed free lawn at our homes. Considerable time and money is spent to have nice lawns. There is one easy mower adjustment that can be made which will have a big effect on how healthy and nice looking your lawn is. That adjustment is for height.

Mowing at the proper height promotes a thick, healthy lawn. It helps keep the soil and plant roots cool for our cool season grasses. It shades out weed seedlings and over time will have less weed invasion. By shading the soil, it will slow water evaporation and save on watering costs and still being attractive. A lawn cut at the proper height will remain green and attractive longer in the heat of summer because of this height.

Setting the mowing height at 3-3.5 inches is an ideal height for a mower to be set. Place the mower on the driveway or sidewalk and use a ruler or tape measure to get the proper height.

Two other simple things that you can do to have a beautiful lawn is to sharpen your mower blade three or four times per summer and to stop bagging clippings. By mulching the clippings back into the lawn, you are helping keep the soil cool and moist, preventing weed growth and providing plant nutrients as they decay.

Remove tree wraps and tubes from trees

Tree wraps and tubes are used on young trees and shrubs to protect them from sunscald and rabbit and rodent damage in the winter. These tubes and wraps should be removed now.

By removing the tubes now, the bark will toughen up with exposure to the elements and make it stronger. It will also allow the trunk to be dry. If wraps and tubes are left on year round, moisture is trapped in them and mold and rot organisms can grow and injure or kill the tree. After the trees have dropped their leaves, put the tubes or wraps on the young trees for the winter. When the trees begin growing the dark, ridged, thicker bark, they won’t need the protection.

Reminder: Low labor gardening program

A program on Low Labor Gardening will be held on Monday, May 14, at 6 p.m. in Room 106,Ward County Administration Building, 225 3rd Street SE, Minot. There is no charge for the program and it’s open to the public. Techniques, practices and tools to make gardening easier for those with physical limitations will be discussed.

Eraas is horticulture assistant with NDSU Extension Service/Ward County. Email kendell.eraas @ndsu.edu.