Not In My BackYard! NIMBY is a very human reaction to change that is seen as affecting us negatively. It is a kind of “Get off my lawn” reaction. It is often a reaction to an agricultural, industrial or housing development near us. It can also mean literally in my backyard.
Neighbors who allow their plants or animals to encroach on our property can be more than annoying. Revenge pruning anyone? Gardeners can be afflicted by an even more nuanced or esoteric version of NIMBY. When we notice neighbors who allow, consciously or not, plants to grow that we don’t care for we get a case of NIMBY; fearing that those plants will soon be growing in our yard.
NIMBY can also be a reaction to plants that are growing in our community, state or country. April is Native Plant Month. Native plants are plants that occur naturally in their habitat where, over the course of evolutionary time, they have adapted to physical conditions and co-evolved with other species in the system.
Colorado spruce is not native to Ohio; not because we have different political boundaries, but because Ohio doesn’t have alpine conditions. We have different ecotypes. Native animals, including insects, depend on native plants.
All this is to serve as an introduction to the NIMBY reaction to the threat that invasive plants, animals (including insects and bugs), microbes, and other organisms present.
An invasive species is any non-native species that significantly modifies the ecosystem it colonizes. Invasive species can lead to the extinction of native species, competing with them for limited resources and altering habitat.
Human activities, global commerce (Emerald Ash Borer), pet trade (Burmese python), horticulture industry (Bush Honeysuckle) are the most common ways invasive species are transported to new habitats. Invasive species can have significant economic, health and quality of life impacts.
To see the size of the problem, go to www.invasivespeciesinfo.gov/subject/lists. There are native and non-native plants that are aggressive or thugs that can pose a problem in our yards or gardens and seem invasive, but are more of a nuisance. These overly enthusiastic plants can spread and be hard to control. Think: Bee Balm, mint, Lamb’s Ear, Hollyhock, and Creeping Charley and many more.
Invasive insects such as emerald ash borer and marmorated stink bugs are recent introductions that have caused disastrous economic and lifestyle changes. They have been joined by a new invasive that may prove to be both.
The spotted lanternfly from Asia was found in eastern Pennsylvania in 2014 and has been found in three counties in Ohio. This leaf hopper sucks sap from trees and plants and is most destructive to peaches and grapes (wine!). It also, in the adult stage, around mid-July, can appear on most trees in such large numbers as to cause a serious nuisance at outdoor functions.
The adult is an attractive looking moth-like flyer. In its earlier stages (instars), it looks like a large spotted tick. Ironically, it seems to need to feed on the Tree of Heaven, or what we always called stink trees, which are also invasive. Google “Penn State Spotted Lanternfly and hosts” for more information. Let’s keep them out of our backyards.
Things to do in the garden:
Using a notebook, wander your grounds and note things you need to do and ideas you want to implement. Divide perennials, move a shrub, start a new bed, renew the lawn, order mulch or topsoil, finish pruning fruit trees, raspberries, roses and grapes.
Tomato and pepper seeds should be started indoors. The seedlings should be moved from the cells after four weeks into larger pots. Move them into the garden only after hardening them off and the danger of frost is past. As usual make sure you water-in the transplants.
When you water, water deeply (top six inches wet) and water the base of the plant, not the foliage. Water when the plants need it, not every day. Most plants require one to one and a half inches of water per week.
Vegetables that can be planted by seed into the garden are: beets, carrots, peas, onions, spinach, leaf lettuce, radishes. Cabbage and broccoli plants can be planted as soil conditions allow. In other words, don’t work our clay soils when they are wet.
Use row covers (Google it) on your vegetables right after planting to keep the bad bugs off. For vegetables that produce fruit (beans, cucumber, pepper, squash, tomatoes, etc.), remove the covers after blooming to let the pollinators go to work.
For those that don’t need pollinating (cabbage, broccoli, onions, chard, kale, lettuce, beets and radishes, etc.), you can leave the covers on until harvest. Make sure you buy the right covers that let in enough light and rain. I have found this to be an effective method to protect plants from bugs that damage vegetables.
Most annual flowers can be seeded directly into the soil after the danger of frost has abated. Some popular annuals that you should consider starting indoors are: snapdragon, wax begonia, sweet William, impatiens, sweet alyssum, petunia, gloriosa daisy, blue salvia, viola, pansy and zinnia, among others. This can save you a considerable amount of money that you can then spend on a perennial.
Time spent on your lawn now will benefit it the rest of the year. Fertilize lightly if at all. The time to re-seed is when night time temps consistently reach 50 degrees and above. This is also the time to aerate laws. Apply a pre-emergent herbicide when the first bloom appears on Bradford Callery pear in order to prevent crabgrass, unless you plan to seed.
When common lilac or Ohio buckeye begins to bloom, it is too late for a pre-emergent herbicide to be effective and too early for a post-emergent. Leave clippings on the lawn. Their nitrogen content is high and will reduce the need to fertilize. Mowing height of at least three inches will retard the growth of crab grass and other weeds.
Unless you are prepared to cover plants in case of frost, don’t put out those tender plants such as tomatoes and peppers until mid-May or later when the soil warms up.
The average last frost date is now April 23. There is a 50/50 chance of frost then and the chance decreases about 10 percent per week after that. Spring flowering bulbs should be fertilized after they bloom. Remember to leave the leaves of bulbs until they are yellow. Brown is better. Also prune spring blooming shrubs after they bloom.
If April brings its overhyped showers, don’t work the soil if it is too wet. Wait until it dries out a bit. If it seems wet enough to make a clay pot, wait. Squeeze a ball of earth about the size of a golf ball and let it drop from waist high, if it breaks apart it’s ready to be worked. Don’t apply mulch until May. Allow the soil to warm.
Cut back your ornamental grasses to six inches. Cut back your butterfly bushes (buddleia) to a foot or two and apply a balanced fertilizer.
Now is the time to prune roses. Depending on the variety, you may prune back to a foot in height. Bagworms on shrubs and trees hatch out shortly after the snowmound spirea blooms. This is when you can spray an insecticide (read the label) to kill the worms.
This article was written by Paul J. Hang to be published in The Circleville Herald. Hang is an OSU Extension Master Gardener. The views of this column may not necessarily reflect that of the newspaper.