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GARDEN JOBS

Basic Training

May 11, 1986|GEORGE HARMON SCOTT

Tie tomato plants to cages, stakes or trellises. That way there will be more room for the other vegetables in the garden. An added advantage is that the fruit is kept off the ground and away from slugs, snails and sow bugs. If you find large, voracious tomato hornworms, pick them off and destroy them. Be careful about what you spray on tomatoes, because you are going to eat them; use vegetable sprays or Bacillus thuringiensis , a bacterium that kills certain pests but that is harmless to humans. Chrysanthemum cuttings can still be made. Pinch back those already started to make them bushy. In fact, until the end of July, you can cut them way back with no harm. Check for mildew and aphids, especially on roses. Often a slight infestation of aphids can be washed away with a jet of water from a hose. To avoid mildew, try to keep the foliage dry at night; washing it in the morning is said to be beneficial. If mildew or aphids get out of control, spray with an insecticide or fungicide. These two pests are on their last legs now and should disappear with the advent of warm, dry weather. However, our gardens are never really pest-free, and thrips are next on the seasonal list. Thrips are commonly seen on roses, gladiolus and marguerites. You know you have thrips when you see silvery lines on leaves, and the leaves and petals are twisted. A systemic insecticide, one that is absorbed into the plant, is most effective; use either granules or a spray. Ficus trees, especially Indian laurel, are subject to Cuban thrips. If new leaves are curled and distorted and have dark bumps, you'll find the tiny thrips by pulling open the still folded leaves. Geraniums get budworms that eat into and ruin the flowers. Look carefully for a small, green worm. Use Sevin or a systemic spray. Organic gardeners might prefer to try Bacillus thuringiensis.

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