gardening tips


August, 2006

For most parts of the country, the greatest concern in August is Water, Water, Water! While brown grass and drooping flowers will readily get our attention, trees may suffer serious water deprivation long before we notice. Some trees may even start to show fall color early due to the hot dry weather. They are not about to die, but some extra water now will help to assure their continued health through the winter and into the next spring. An application of Bradfield Organics® Luscious Lawn & Garden™ 3-1-5 right now will help promote the soil microbial activity which will benefit trees, especially newly planted or young trees still struggling to get established. Since trees significantly increase the overall value of your home, it pays to spend a little time and attention on their care. Observing the fall foliage can help you select the right trees for your landscape, and Bradfield Organics can help you care for them.

Question: I think my trees are dying. All the leaves are falling off. What can be done?

Answer: July and August are usually hot and dry and are the time of year when most trees are likely to suffer water deprivation stress, especially if they are young trees or were planted that season. When trees are stressed from lack of water, they go into dormancy and shed their leaves. The more shallow-rooted the tree (e.g., young and newly planted trees), the more likely it will be affected. There is nothing to be done now except water the trees when rain is lacking. Be sure to deeply water; more established trees have deep roots, and a little surface watering will not be of much use to them. Applying Bradfield Organics® Luscious Lawn & Garden™ 3-1-5 now or any time this fall will certainly benefit the tree. Remember Bradfield Organics® Luscious Lawn & Garden™ 3-1-5 stimulates microbial activity and not chemical growth.

Question: When is a good time to cut dead limbs from a tree?

Answer: Dead limbs can be cut from a tree any time of the year. Large heavy limbs should be removed in sections, starting with an undercut partway through the limb; otherwise the weight of the limb coming off may result in torn bark on the living portion of the tree. Any other pruning should stop around the end of August to allow the tree to gradually prepare for dormancy.

Question: How can I keep grasshoppers from eating my blue spruce?

Answer: “Grasshopper” has become a catch-all name for members of the Locustidae family, which includes locusts, grasshoppers, crickets and katydids. These insects are extremely desctructive, and you are probably experiencing severe overpopulation if they are going after blue spruce. Grasshoppers have three life stages: egg, nymph (young adult), and adult. Control methods vary with life stage. The most effective stage to control is the nymph stage. Nosema locustae is a one-celled parasite, usually mixed with bran meal, that can be applied directly to the ground (this product is available at many garden stores and through mail-order). It kills nymph-stage grasshoppers that ingest it and continues to kill those that eat the dead, infected bodies. Depending on the grasshopper specie, it may take only hours or several weeks to be effective. For control of adult grasshoppers, chickens, guinea hens and ducks are your best defense. They will happily consume a grasshopper buffet all day long. Certain plants (horehound, cilantro and calendula) repel grasshoppers and can be planted as barriers around more vulnerable plants.

Question: The Japanese beetles are eating my roses. What can I do?

Answer: The only organic product available is called Neem Oil. It comes from the seed of the Neem tree in India. It contains a compound called “azadirachtin” which acts as an anti-feeding repellant (it is very bitter) and, if consumed, can actually disrupt growth and sterilize some insect species. It is non-toxic to mammals, birds and earthworms and can be sprayed on all fruits and vegetables. Neem oil has a very low incidence of side effects in non-target species that do not consume plants. It acts as a control rather than a toxin, and because it degrades rapidly in the environment, you must apply it often. You will need a good organic surfactant to get the oil to emulsify with water if you wish to spray it. You can also purchase ready-to-apply products containing Neem oil.


Early fall is a good time to take a soil sample to an independent laboratory focused on organic analysis. Click here for a list of suggested labs.

For more information on organic fertilizing techniques, visit



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Winter, 2006-2007

January, 2006
February, 2006
March, 2006
April, 2006
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June, 2006
July, 2006
August, 2006
September, 2006
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