Friday, April 20, 2018
Home and Garden

Timely Tendings: Fruit maturity, garden pests, more

Don't pick prematurely

Leave mangoes on the tree to mature; otherwise, they won't ripen properly. To check for maturity, pick a large one growing in the sun and cut through it lengthwise. The fruit should have flesh around the seed that is turning yellow, indicating it is ready to pick. The other mangoes that are the same size or larger are probably also mature and can be picked to take indoors to ripen.

Avocado varieties ripen at different times of the year. But, the main season is July through February. Avocado fruit does not ripen on the tree. Mature fruit ripens three to eight days after it is picked. Storing mangoes in the refrigerator delays ripening and allows you to keep fruit for a longer period of time.

Battling pests, black spot

Wander through your landscape weekly and look for signs of damaging insects. Catching infestations early allows for easier control. Watch for beneficial insects that are controlling the pests. They may be taking care of the problem for you. Many pest problems can be kept in check with proper plant care. Healthy plants are more resistant to damage and disease.

The small back lubber grasshoppers seen earlier this year are now maturing into the very large adult grasshoppers that are yellow with dark markings and a red area on their wings. Once they reach this size, chemical controls are of little value. Consider making it a game for children (or yourself) to catch them and dispose of them in a bucket of soapy water.

Black spot on roses can cause defoliation rapidly during hot humid weather. Control by spraying with a suitable fungicide and by removing and destroying all infected leaves including those on the ground. Better yet, plant disease-resistant rose varieties.

Compiled by Theresa Badurek, urban horticulture extension agent, UF/IFAS Pinellas County Extension Service. For additional landscape and garden information, visit For regular tips and information about what's growing in Pinellas, go to