1. Life & Culture

Timely Tendings, Weekly maintenance tips

Keep an eye out for pests and possible disease

Check your garden each day for signs of disease or insect injury. Daily monitoring of the garden will help you spot potential problems before they get out of hand.

Mechanical removal of pests such as caterpillars and snails will help cut down on the use of pesticides. There are biological products such as Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), and insecticidal or organic disease control products available at local garden centers.

Good ground cover — tasty, too

Sweet potato plants not only make a delicious edible vegetable, but also can act as an attractive ground cover.

Sweet potatoes are a long season crop, so they need to be fertilized during the growing period. Use an 8-8-8 or similar fertilizer every five or six weeks during the summer growing season.

Vegetables and other edible crops are exempt from our local fertilizer ordinance, but always fertilize responsibly to protect our waters.

Yep, it's lovebug season, but you can avoid them

Most people do not feel much love for lovebugs. These insects usually swarm in late April and May.

The larval stage of the lovebug feeds on leaf mold. This makes control difficult if not impossible. The adult fly's only purpose is to find a mate. The lovebug does not sting or bite but will certainly mess up the windshield and grille of your car.

Avoiding lovebugs is not easy. They prefer the warmth of the day. If you are taking a trip across the state, plan to travel at night or early morning before they begin to stir.

Pesky lubber grasshopper can ruin your lily plants

Lubber grasshoppers have hatched and emerged from the ground. They can ruin lily plants by chewing the young stems to the ground.

Young grasshoppers, black with either a red or yellow stripe, can be controlled by picking off the insects and dropping them into a bucket of soapy water or smashing them. They are slow, easy to catch and harmless to humans.

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Ways to spot, get rid of spider mites

Spider mites are a big problem on many plants during dry, warm weather. Signs of mite infestation are chlorotic spots on leaves, rusty needles on junipers and stippling of leaves. With heavy infestation, you may be able to see the fine webs.

Spray with insecticidal soap or paraffin-based horticultural oil following directions on the label. Neem oil is also an effective miticide.

Source: Theresa Badurek, Urban Horticulture Extension Agent, UF/IFAS Pinellas County Extension Service. For additional landscape and garden information, visit the website at Go to Facebook to get regular tips and information about what's growing in Pinellas at: