Plants to avoid and pests to prepare for
When it comes to planning out gardening for the season, experts are urging folks to take a few extra steps to make sure you know exactly what you're growing. Sarah Blazonis explains.
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ONEIDA COUNTY, N.Y. -- Lynette Kay says she's always on the lookout for new perennials for the gardens of Oneida County's Cornell Cooperative Extension. It was in an e-mail from Better Homes and Gardens that she came across Sunny Side Up Poke Salad.
"I did a little research on it, and it is a native plant, but it is poisonous," said Kay, Community Horticultural Program Assistant for CCE.
All parts of the plant are toxic if eaten by people or animals. The main cause for Kay's concern, the word "salad."
"It kind of implies that, you know, you can just chop this up and eat it," she said. "I can just see some little kid walking by and eating them."
"Salad" has since been removed from the web site's description, and a note also warns that all parts of the plant are toxic unless prepared properly. Still, she says amateur gardeners need to make sure to do their research into any new plants being added to their yards.
But experts say the challenge doesn't end with finding the perfect plants. They say because of the mild winter, folks are likely to see more unwanted admirers in their gardens this season.
Garden specialists say insects are likely to be out in full force because of the lack of a hard freeze. One type that's caused Mohawk Valley gardeners trouble in the past is the Japanese beetle.
"They come in waves, but every few years we'll have a real problem with Japanese beetles around here. They'll completely defoliate a plant if you have enough of them," said Joseph Manning, an outdoor power equipment specialist with Lowe's in Rome.
Experts say while it's good to plan, gardeners may want to put off planting for a few weeks. The weather may seem perfect for planting now, but there's no telling if the Upstate winter plans to pack one last punch.
To find out how to check if plants you plan to include in your garden are poisonous, visit cornell.edu, or call CCE's Master Gardeners Wednesdays and Fridays from 9 AM-12 PM at (315) 736-3394.