, Newburyport, MA

June 19, 2013

Tim's Tips: Rain brings out garden pests

Tim's Tips
Tim Lamprey

---- — It looks like we might actually get a week with a few showers but no completely rainy days. I think even the plants are sick of the rain — I won’t tell you which ones said so.

The rainy weather has created conditions that have allowed slugs and snails to proliferate. It also would appear that the weather has led to a bumper crop of earwigs. Both of these creatures feed on your plants at night. You may notice holes in the leaves of your plants, yet you may not see any type of insect feeding on your plants. If this is the case, then slugs or earwigs are likely the culprit. There is a product called Sluggo Plus that will take care of both of these garden pests.

Speaking of garden pests, now would be a good time to treat your squash plants to prevent squash vine borer. If you have planted squash in the past, and around mid-summer you notice that the leaves wilt during the midday but appear to snap back in the evening, then you had squash borer in your garden. The eggs for this pest are laid at the base of the vine. There are many insecticides that will kill the borer as it hatches. This will prevent them from getting into the plant and causing major damage.

Caterpillars also damaging plants now, and will strike rose bushes. An application of Bt will kill the caterpillars without harming any beneficial insects.

I have talked about this in past weeks, but it does bear repeating. With all of the rain that we have had, much of the fertilizer that you have put down on your plants at the start of the season has washed away. If you want your plants to grow their best, you need to keep up with fertilizing your plants on a regular schedule. You can use organic or synthetic, granular or something you add to water. The important thing is to follow the directions on the package and keep up with a regular feeding schedule. Your plants will thank you by performing at their best.

If you have blueberry bushes or cherry trees in your yard, now is the time to put a protective netting over the plants. As the fruit ripens, the birds will get to the fruit before you get a chance to get out of bed in the morning! The berry netting, as it is called, must cover the entire plant and it must be closed at the bottom to keep the birds away. Berry netting is also useful to cover your strawberry plants. As the strawberries ripen, chipmunks and squirrels will carry it away. The sooner you put your netting over these plants, the less fruit you will lose to the critters.

Well, that’s all for this week. I’ll talk to you again next week.


Tim Lamprey is the owner of Harbor Garden Center on Route 1 in Salisbury. His website is Do you have questions for Tim? Send them to, and he will answer them in upcoming columns.