The misfortunes of the summer garden are growing


I don’t know about you but to me the flowers seem brighter, the blueberries taste sweeter, and the bees seem busier than normal.

I think maybe it is because I am able to share the successes and woes of gardening with my family, friends and coworkers in person.

The Summit County Master Gardeners volunteers held one of our first face-to-face meetings last Saturday. Here are some of the top gardening topics we discussed:

Japanese beetles

The level of Japanese beetle presence varies in Ohio from year to year and region to region. This year, many communities in the region are experiencing significant activity.

Japanese beetles were originally found in New Jersey in 1916 and have spread to the eastern part of the United States. In adulthood, this pest can cause significant damage to a wide variety of ornamental and food crops. In its larval form, it feasts on grass roots.

The beautiful, metallic-colored adults started to emerge in the area a few weeks ago, wreaking havoc on plants, from roses to blue berries. Adult beetles consume the leaf tissue between the veins, leaving behind leaf veins and a skeletal appearance.

The easiest method of control is to knock into a bucket of soapy water and throw away, but if you’re looking for other methods, check out Japanese Beetles-https: // which provides a list of management options along with appropriate timing.

Powdery mildew

Powdery mildew, a disease familiar to any gardener, is an umbrella term for several different types of fungi that cause similar symptoms on a wide range of plants.

Powdery cover on the leaves is familiar to gardeners, but damage can also include disfigured flowers and shoots or discolored leaves. In general, the type of powdery mildew that affects one type of plant will not affect the other types. In other words, powdery mildew on lilacs will not cause powdery mildew on cucumbers.

Although aesthetically unpleasant, powdery mildew rarely kills a plant. You might encounter powdery mildew on your plants a little earlier than usual because disease development is favorable when humidity is high and temperatures are cooler. Powdery mildew is one of the few diseases that can develop in the absence of free water. The spores travel in the wind and infect newly emerged tissue.

Management strategies include purchasing resistant plants (usually the label or plant catalog descriptions will not), spacing plants at the recommended spacing, and thin plants that have become overcrowded. For more information on powdery mildew see

late blight on tomatoes

Those of you who grow tomatoes may notice disease issues on your plants, and one of the first diseases found each year is late blight.

Downy mildew is caused by the pathogenic fungus Alternaria linariae, which can cause defoliation and reduce yields. Downy mildew can also affect eggplant. The symptom of infection begins with small brown spots on the lower leaves of the plant and usually a yellow halo begins to surround the spot. The spot will spread over time creating the appearance of a target and may affect the stem and fruit.

The fungus overwinters in the soil and on infected plant debris and is usually spread by splashing the soil onto the leaves. Preferred environmental conditions include rainy weather and heavy dew.

It can also be present on seeds and by transplantation. Inspect the transplants carefully and buy healthy plants. Space the plants according to the label and prune the suckers diligently. This will increase the movement of air and light in the canopy of the plant.

Mulch the plants to reduce splashing and once the plants are established, prune the lower leaves. Remove leaves and parts of infected plants and dispose of them offsite. Copper-based fungicides can protect uninfected plants but will not solve the problem once it has developed.

Learn more

Are you interested in becoming a volunteer extension master gardener? For more information on the Fall 2021 class, see

The Summit County Master Gardener Hotline (234-226-6639) is open. Hours are 9 a.m. to noon on Tuesday.

Jacqueline Kowalski is the Summit County Agricultural Extension and Natural Resources Educator for Ohio State University. For any questions about local food, food production, or other garden related matters, contact her at [email protected] or 234-226-6633.


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