Ask Monty’s: “How do you know when to harvest asparagus and leaf lettuce, spring’s earliest producers? I never have been quite sure.”
Susan – Joplin, Missouri
Susan: You can usually begin harvesting your asparagus spears when they are 6-8 inches in length. Snap them off at ground level when picking them. Stop harvesting them about 4-6 weeks after the first initial harvest so the plants can produce foliage and food for themselves. Once the asparagus emerge you can spray with Monty’s 8-16-8 for vigorous growth, additionally toward the end of the season, use Monty’s 2-15-15 to help them store energy in the roots so that they can propagate and emerge healthy next season.
Leaf lettuce is best picked when the outer leaves have reached about 4 inches in height. Let the younger, inner leaves to grow further which will allow you to have lettuce through most of the summer if you pick it right and keep it well watered. Don’t forget to spray it at least once a week with Monty’s 8-16-8. This will stimulate vigorous growth. As an additional benefit, if you are one who chosses to use pesticides or herbicides, they can easily be mixed with Monty’s products for no-fuss, one step application.
Ask Monty’s: “In early spring, if I don’t watch my garden or flower beds closely, young grasshoppers and even crickets almost strip my young plants beyond repair. I have been using a regular insecticide on them, but is there an organic approach to repelling them? It’s a reoccurring problem for me.”
Dexter – Granite Falls, Washington
Dexter: These little devils can indeed strip crops incredibly fast. Grasshoppers alone are responsible for consuming 25% of the available foliage in the western half of the U.S. each year! There is an organic product on the market that literally infects grasshoppers with a naturally occurring disease that is much like a bad case of grasshopper flu. The disease is called Nosema locustae and it infects over 90 species of grasshoppers and crickets. The best part is that pets, people, plants and other insects are not affected by it. You can find this product in gardening catalogs and garden centers and it is sold as Semasporte Bait or NoLo Bait. It has a very short shelf life of only about eight weeks, so if you store it in the refrigerator it will keep up to five months, so buy only what you need. You can also talk to your local independent garden center, they may have some insecticidal soaps that will do the tricks. A mild solution of JOY dish soap sprayed on the foliage helps with many insects, it may help with your crickets and hoppers as well.
One last thought, evidence indicates that Monty’s foliar fertility products will elevate brix levels (the measure of sugar in a plant). Anecdotal evidence seems to indicate that elevated brix levels may help deter insects. We also know that insects tend to be opportunistic. That is, they tend to prey on plants that are weak or stressed. Think of them like a cheetah, they cull the weak out of the herd and in an odd way by doing so they are protecting the strength of the overall herd of antelope. So one way to address the insect problem is to make sure your plants are the healthiest in the neighborhood, this will tend to cause the insects to move on to more susceptible prey. They key to plant health can be summarized in three words. Fertility, Fertility, Fertility.
Ask Monty’s: “I have a love/hate relationship with my Calla Lily. Sometimes it looks fabulous and other times I just about kill it. It seems like when it starts blooming, and I fertilize it, it takes an immediate turn for the worse. I do not understand this. Am I giving it too much, although I follow the fertilizer instructions to the tee?”
Tessa -Portland, Oregon
Tessa: You should never feed a Calla Lily when it is in bloom, which is the opposite of most plants, I know. A good quality, healthy Calla Lily just simply doesn’t need it. If you just can’t resist, go with a low nitrogen, high phosphorous, high potassium fertilizer. this will decrease the nitrogen available for growth and increase those nutrients needed to support bloom and root health. We recommended Monty’s 2-15-15.