University of Vermont Extension
Department of Plant and Soil Science

Summer News Article


Charlie Nardozzi, Senior Horticulturist
National Gardening Association, and
Dr. Leonard Perry, Extension Professor
University of Vermont

Checking your strawberry bed for rotting fruit, removing spent peony blooms, and mowing lawns properly, are some of the gardening tips for this month.

If you have a strawberry bed, harvest frequently and remove any berries that show signs of gray mold or rot diseases. These berries not only are inedible, they quickly spread the diseases to other ripening fruits. Pick and remove the rotten berries and mulch under plants with straw to reduce contact with the ground.

As your peony blooms fade, snip off the dead blossoms. Removing the dead blossoms will not only make the bush more attractive, it will allow the plant to send more energy to the leaves and roots, and less to producing seed. Keep plants well watered through the summer.

Roseslugs are pale green caterpillars that skeletonize rose leaves. If you see dried patches on rose foliage, examine the undersides of the leaves. Roseslugs are the larvae of a sawfly. To control them, hose off foliage in the morning, concentrating on the undersides of the leaves. (Don't wet foliage at night, or you'll encourage disease problems.) Natural enemies often keep them in check, but if infestation is severe, spray the undersides of the leaves with insecticidal soap.

There's evidence that fruiting of tomatoes and peppers is improved by applying Epsom salts, which contains sulfur and magnesium. Apply 1 tablespoon of granules around each transplant, or spray a solution of 1 tablespoon Epsom salts per gallon of water at transplanting, first flowering, and fruit set. You can find it at drug and grocery stores.

Some gardeners report success controlling foliage diseases by spraying plants with a solution of compost tea, made by mixing one part mature compost that contains some manure with 5 parts water. Let the mixture sit for 2 weeks, then filter and spray at 2-week intervals. The tea also provides nutrients.

Fertilize lawns again if using a complete, synthetic fertilizer and not a slow release organic one.  Keep lawns mowed regularly, but do not set the blades too low.  This is a common mistake, which leads to less vigorous growth and higher chance of disease.  Vary your lawn mowing pattern to prevent ridges.

For many more tips, check out the National Gardening Associationís regional reports (  You may also see Charlie Nardozzi as host of Garden Smart, a national television show on PBS, airing every Monday afternoon at 2:30 on Vermont Public Television.

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