Today's topics all begin with "S" and are not necessarily applicable to this time of year, but are a random collection of facts and ideas.
I cannot pass up the opportunity to address one of my pet subjects, slugs, and just to summarize thoughts I have expressed before: you can never expect to get rid of them completely, and controlling them is the best you can do.
Lure them to their favorite conditions by setting out upturned halves of orange or grapefruit shells or shallow saucers of beer, which they will enter overnight. Then in the morning, you can collect them and dispose of the bodies, living or dead.
I do this by dropping them into salty water, or you can use boiling water or any other lethal method that appeals to you.
Keep a bar of soap with your hand tools. Before plunging your hands into the spring soil, dig your nails into the soap. Then, after work, it is an easy (or easier anyway) task to scrub the dirt away with a nailbrush. I find the clear glycerin-based soaps best for this.
Those little sowbugs that hide under pots in the summertime and look like armadillos are not true insects; in fact, they are crustaceans and related to lobsters. They also are known as pillbugs, and in England are called woodlice. They do no harm to plants. In fact, they do us a favor by eating fungi and molds.
If you grow any variety of squash, you are likely to find two different pests attacking your promising crops. A sudden wilt overnight means the squash borer has attacked - burrowing into the healthy main stem and cutting the circulation from all of the plant beyond the spot where it now resides. There is nothing that can be done to save the wilted part, but you can pile some soil over the remaining healthy stem to encourage auxiliary roots to take over and grow some new vines.
If you want to see the culprit, slit the stem with a sharp knife right where the damage begins, and you will find an inch-long fat white worm.
Dusting the young plant with an insecticide containing methoxychlor in June when the insect is laying its eggs is the best prevention.
The other enemy of squash is the squash bug, which likes to suck the sap from leaves and stems, which causes the leaves to turn brown. Sevin will kill these pests, but is a very strong substance and I am not comfortable using it on food crops.
Shasta daisies are perennials that often are neglected. They are workhorse plants, easy to grow, undemanding, native to Ohio and adaptable to our varying weather conditions, reliable and even pretty.
The many varieties are excellent in the garden, where they bloom for weeks, and for cutting.
Their strong stems will support floppier flowers in a vase, and their unassuming yellow and white blends in with any other blossoms.
They like ample moisture during the summer and so flourished in the copious water this past spring, but do not like to be waterlogged through the winter.
The plants multiply and should be divided frequently to keep them vigorous.
Setcreasea is a winter house plant in our Zone 5, but can go outside through spring, summer and fall. The version I have is Purple Queen; the bright purple leaves are attractive in a hanging basket or a pot.
I have both of mine still in their indoor pots hanging from branches of the cherry tree in macram hangers.. They can go into the ground, or in a window box, but their stems are fragile and apt to snap off when they are handled. Broken sections root easily in water.
So there we have it - slugs, sowbugs, soap, squash, Shasta Daisies and setcreasea, which just leaves one more S. Summer. Enjoy!
Janet Del Turco is a local gardener and a graduate of the Ohio State University Master Gardener program. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.