May 12, 2000

Conifer Troubles

The Plant Disease Clinic has been receiving an assortment of conifer samples. The browning of needles observed cannot be explained by a single disease or environmental factor.

Environmental factors

Drought-Tolerant Annuals

Most annual flowers require consistent moisture throughout the growing season for adequate growth and bloom. However, there are a few annuals that perform well in dry weather. While other annuals are suffering from a lack of moisture, these annuals will flower profusely without a significant rise in the water bill. All of these drought tolerant annuals will require water initially to establish a good root system. Once established, however, they require little watering. All perform best in full sun with well-drained soils.

Organic Mulches for Gardens and Landscape Plantings

Organic mulches serve several important functions in gardens and landscape plantings. Mulches help control annual weeds and conserve soil moisture. They reduce soil erosion by reducing the impact of raindrops and water runoff. Mulches can help reduce the severity of some diseases, such as blights on tomatoes. They help keep fruits, vegetables, and flowers free of rain spattered soil. They also reduce fruit and vegetable spoilage. Organic mulches moderate soil temperatures. During the hot summer months, they help maintain cooler soil temperatures.