Here are this week’s gardening questions and answers, provided by Parker County Master Gardeners. To submit a question, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about Parker County Master Gardeners, or to become a member, call 817-598-6096 or visit www.pcmg-texas.org.
I have seen a large number of katydids. How can I reduce the numbers?
Katydids live on trees, bushes or grasses, often matching the appearance of their surroundings. Their predators are bats, birds and snakes.
One option is cultivation (breaking up the surface soil between plants). In late summer, katydids lay their eggs in the soil where they will hatch in spring. Cultivating soil in the fall or early spring not only reduces the population, but also destroys host plants that are vital to the survival of the nymphs.
An additional recommendation from Dr. David Kattes, Professor of Agronomy and Horticulture at Tarleton State University is to treat the affected plants with Malathion or Sevin dust.
Is there something I can use to kill fire ants in my vegetable garden? The pesticides for fire ants recommend not using them near food crops.
A resent research study conducted at A&M University reports that a mixture of orange oil, dish soap and water is somewhat effective in reducing the number of ants in a fire ant mound. I have used orange oil and water in a similar mixture and find that it is also effective. The solution kills ants on contact and will not contaminate the crop.
Orange oil mixture
1.5 oz. of Medina Orange Oil
3 oz. of Dawn soap
1 gal. of water
Mix well and apply the entire amount to the mound.
Do plant diseases spread from one type plant to another?
Dr. Jerral Johnson, professor emeritus in Plant Pathology at Texas A&M University, says that most diseases are species specific and will not infect other types of plants even when planted in the same area. It is important to note that common names (such as powdery mildew) may actually include several species of fungus that look similar to the naked eye. Each species has its own preference for a plant type. One exception to the rule is root rot, which is related to overwatering.
At 7 p.m. on June 27, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service of Parker County, in cooperation with the Parker County Master Gardeners, will present a 90-minute seminar to address the threat of wildfires and how damage can be mitigated using Firewise Landscaping methods. Contact the Parker County Extension Office at 817-598-6168 to register.