Insect Detectives + Tennis Court into Gardens

Cloudy days prompted this aster to jump ahead of schedule. Pollinators don’t mind an early taste of fall flowers!
asters blooming in spring Central Texas Gardener
Parsley’s on the way out, but not before tiny pollinators hit up soon-to-bloom flowers.
parsley flower umbrels Central Texas Gardener
And maybe we’ll get Eastern Black Swallowtail caterpillars.
swallowtail caterpillar on parsley central texas gardener
Most of our insects are doing us a big favor! For pests out of control, Wizzie Brown, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension-Urban IPM, shows how to identify damage and steps to take.
Wizzie Brown Urban IPM Central Texas Gardener
First, find out what’s bugging you! Sucking insects like aphids, whiteflies and chewing insects like spider mites cause yellow or even browned leaves. And that “rain” coming from your trees? That’s honeydew they’re excreting, that leads to sooty mold on your plants and a big mess on your car.
Lamb's ears with sooty mold
Spider mite webbing out of control
spider mites Central Texas Gardener
True bugs like harlequin bugs, stink bugs, and leaf-footed bugs are little suckers, too.
leaf-footed bug on yucca flowers Central Texas Gardener
Yucca bugs
yucca bugs Central Texas Gardener
Cochineal on your cactus is a scale insect cultivated for red dye if you pick off its white cover and squish it.
cochineal scale insect on opuntia prickly pear cactus Central Texas Gardener
Control sucking pests with daily blasts of high-pressured water. Be sure to target the undersides of the leaves, too, in the case of spider mites and whiteflies.
whitefly Central Texas Gardener
You can also use insecticidal soap or Azadirachtin or a neem product. Don’t apply in the heat of day or when temps are above 85° to avoid burning leaves. Also, only apply neem sprays in the evening when bees aren’t active. You’re also giving the pesticide a longer time to be on the plant to dry.

Beetles CHEW, like flea beetles on my arugula in the past, and a pest on summer crops like eggplant.
garden pests
Direct hits on true bugs and beetles with an oil product will suffocate them. Wizzie tells us, “But there’s also a neem concentrate that’s not going to have that oil component. Regular straight up Azadirachtin or neem is going to be an insect growth regulator and a feeding deterrent.”

And hey, let’s remember that all products, botanical or synthetic, kill insects. Be careful, since the beneficials in our gardens far outnumber the bad guys! The “bug” you kill today could have been dinner for a toad, lizard, ladybug (really a beetle) or firefly.
anole shedding
Check out Wizzie’s blog for the latest insect news. And watch now for all of Wizzie’s tips!

On tour, when Dr. Suzanne Novak and Dr. Bill Nemeth bought their house, it came with a regulation-sized tennis court. They don’t play tennis!
tennis court before garden Central Texas Gardener
They’re also busy physicians and love to get outside to grow healthy food and fragrant flowers after hours. Enter Landscape Architect Tait Moring.
Tait Moring with clients Central Texas Gardener
On a pea gravel parterre, Tait designed limestone raised beds where the couple grows roses, herbs, and lots of vegetables.
beautiful vegetable and flower garden raised bed parterre Central Texas Gardener
Suzanne cans and freezes abundant harvests for good eating out of season.
raised limestone beds ramada Central Texas Gardener
raised limestone beds ramada fruit orchard Central Texas Gardener
A rustic cedar ramada offers a shade break to enjoy it all, even when it’s hot outside.
cedar ramada for shade pea vegetable garden parterre Central Texas Gardener
Suzanne and Bill also wanted to grow their own peaches, figs, apples and pears. Tait chose Zoysia grass as cooling green against the parterre’s gravel.
pea gravel parterre to backyard orchard Central Texas Gardener
They improved their view to Wild Basin beyond by removing invasives and selective pruning.
orchard to garden closer ctg
They pluck luscious blackberries for Suzanne’s homemade cobblers or quick garden snacks. Of course, we had to sample for “quality control.” We would have eaten as many as the deer, except they’re kept out by fences.
blackberries Central Texas Gardener
Lining the side fences, their young Spanish Black grapes are both productive and pretty.
grape vine fence fruit orchard instead of tennis court Central Texas Gardener
grape arbor Central Texas Gardener
Tait turned the shady court outside their living room into a view that soothes.
front yard ponds patio courtyard Central Texas Gardener
Soft sounds from the recirculating stream and pond serenade Suzanne and Bill as they tend to the upper story gardens.
front yard flagstone path across small stream Central Texas Gardener
Suzanne nails it about why gardens make such a difference in a busy, crowed life: “All you do is work and come home, so you should have a space that’s peaceful and wonderful that you come home to.”
shady front yard stream Central Texas Gardener
Watch the whole story now!

Thank you for stopping by! See you next week for summertime pond tips, Linda