Nursery owner

Laurie Garretson is a Victoria gardener and nursery owner.

If you have paid any attention to your flower beds or vegetable gardens in the past few weeks, chances are you have noticed lots of small garden snails. You might have also noticed damage to some of your plants caused by these garden snails.

Snails will eat all types of plants. Flowers, vegetables, dead plants and fruits, along with some sand and soil are their usual meals.

Snails may move slowly, but they can quickly devour tender new seedlings. Larger leaves might take them a bit longer to finish off, but during the darkness of night, they have time to cause a lot of damage. Usual signs of snail damage are holes in leaves, bits of leaves missing, scalloped-edged bites on leaves and silvery slime trails. Sluggo Plus is a natural, safe way to eradicate these pests. Apply on a regular basis as long as damage is noticed.

Another problem folks are asking about is the white to grayish powdery dust that is on the leaves of crape myrtle trees. This powdery dust is a fungal disease called powdery mildew. It is a common event this time of year not only on crape myrtles but also zinnias, roses, melons, cucumbers, squash and pepper plants.

A prime reason that many plants develop this fungus is due to the lack of sunlight and the abundance of humidity. Do these conditions sound familiar? Powdery mildew is not usually fatal but more of an aesthetic issue. Mildew diseases can leach nutrients from plants, reduce the plants producing capacity and affect the flavors of different fruits and vegetables.

To be proactive with plants prone to this fungus, treat them every year with horticultural cornmeal as a preventive. Spreading cornmeal the first of spring and the first of fall on all susceptible plants can help to prevent mildew.

For existing problems, spray the plant with a liquid fungicide. Neem Oil is a good natural way to get rid of fungal problems, as the homemade remedy of using 1 tablespoon baking soda with 1 teaspoon of dish soap in 1 gallon of water. Foliar spray either solution all over the infected plants during late afternoon or evening hours. These methods should clear up the problem.

Until next time, let’s try to garden with nature, not against it, and maybe all our weeds will become wildflowers.

Laurie Garretson is a Victoria gardener and nursery owner. Send your gardening questions to or in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77902.

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