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Garden Guru

Be prepared for bugs and frost

Jim Boxberger
Posted 5/3/24

What a difference a week makes, from cold wet weather a week and a half ago to the beautiful tropical conditions we had this week. Looking at the forecast through mid-May, the nighttime temperatures …

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Garden Guru

Be prepared for bugs and frost


What a difference a week makes, from cold wet weather a week and a half ago to the beautiful tropical conditions we had this week. Looking at the forecast through mid-May, the nighttime temperatures only seem to be getting into the lower forties and the days are beautiful for this time of year. So I did something I have never done before; I planted my garden. Not just the broccoli and cabbage, but cucumbers and squash as well. I know it is a risk, but I have made provisions for covering my plants if we get a frost. The one major chance for frost would be May twenty-third which is the night of the full moon. If the night is clear with a northerly breeze, we could see a cold night. But looking right now the temperatures look good.

Now that we can get outdoors, there are some things we need to be careful of. The first thing is the Sun. Clear days with low humidity allow much more harmful UV rays that can affect your skin. As I have gotten older, I notice the drying of my skin much more than back in my twenties. Applying sunscreen and wearing a wide brim hat are now standard practice for me when I am out in the garden center all day. Check your plants multiple times on sunny days to make sure they are not thirsty. When we get thirsty, we can just go inside and get a drink, but your plants just have wilting as a way to help dehydration. If you see your plants drooping on a sunny day, chances are they are thirsty. 

Another thing to look out for when you go outside are fleas and ticks. Your pets aren’t the only ones that these little blood suckers are after. They are just as likely to make a meal of you as they are your pets. We don’t have flea collars for humans, but there are plenty of sprays to repel these unwanted pests. Products containing DEET are the most effective, but many people don’t want to put chemicals on their skin, so I recommend if using a product with DEET, just put the spray on your clothing. Spraying on your socks, shoes, shirt, shorts and hat are good ways to keep pests away without spraying chemicals on yourself. We also have all natural botanical sprays that can be used safely on your skin for protection from fleas, ticks and biting flies. These sprays contain oils from pennyroyal, citronella, lemon grass and other plants that have natural repellent properties. Either way, it is important to protect yourself from these insects. 

The last thing that I want to mention is for all those hikers, bikers and backyard gardeners that may come in contact with some toxic plants. The most common of these plants is poison ivy. Poison ivy causes a rash by an allergic reaction to an oily resin called urushiol. This oily resin is in the leaves, stems and roots of poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac. Wash your skin right away if you come into contact with this oil, unless you know you’re not sensitive to it as some people have a natural immunity to it. Washing off the oil may reduce your chances of getting a poison ivy rash. You can treat mild cases of poison ivy rash at home with soothing lotions, cool baths and jewel weed. Jewel weed grows everywhere outdoors around here. The only problem is that it is just starting to come up right now, and it won’t be ready to pick or use for about another six weeks. If you just look up jewel weed on the internet you will recognize the flower that jewel weed produces so that you can find some around your yard. If your rash is more severe or widespread however, you may need prescription medication. So with this knowledge in hand, if you just take some simple precautions you can prevent many outdoor mishaps. The old adage “an ounce of prevention, is better than a pound of cure” definitely rings true. And if you decide to plant your garden like I did, have precautions ready and don’t blame me if we see a frost at the end of May.


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