SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Lifestyle

March 11, 2009

Spraying to protect maple trees from green worms may be smart move

Q: It's slowly getting to that time of year when we can go play in the dirt again. My wife and I can hardly wait. My question concerns the canker worm, I believe that is what they are called. I am talking about those nasty little green worms that hatch in the spring and devour maple trees. We've received an offer to have our maples treated with Dendrex to control the nasty little critters, and I'm wondering if I should consider it.

A: First, a question: Did the worms defoliate your maple trees last year? Then these trees are weak and need protection. If that's the case, I would spray. If not, a healthy tree can stand defoliation for one year.

These big little pests are said to appear in cycles of about four years, and the four-year cycle is certainly near an end, but Mother Nature's cycles are always subject to change due to weather and soil conditions and predators. I know we can't wait for the warmth of spring. If we get a very cold spring, it could seriously diminish the population of these worms, at least we can hope!

Q: I would love to garden and grow things, but I don't have the space. We have a rental property and don't want to spend a lot of money that we're only going to leave behind in another year or two. What are my options?

A: Container gardening is made for you! And containers means more than just pots — a container could be a large box or a table garden if you have the desire.

With a container, you choose the soil. It could be moisture-retaining for plants that require it or a super-porous mix for others. You can choose the light conditions and change it if it doesn't work by moving the containers.

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