March newsletter

Almost everyone is at home, spending much time in isolation. There is much worry, sadness and frustration since there is no end in sight at this time to this imposed isolation. It is unknown when the Millbrook & Area Garden Club will be able to reconvene. So, instead, the executive of the Millbrook & Area Garden Club thought it might be a welcome distraction to send out occasional posts with gardening information and a platform to entertain questions and answers and observations from local gardeners.

An Example of a Q & A:

Q. What would you suggest to prevent damping off of seedlings in place of “No Damp” which is no longer available?


One: In a 32 ounce  spray bottle, mix 1 TBSP (or 1/2 ounce) of 3% hydrogen peroxide with water.

Two: In a 32 ounce spray bottle, mix 2-4 TBSPs of strong brewed chamomile tea or tea made of cloves and mist seedlings to cure damping off.

Three: Sprinkle your seedlings with ground cinnamon.

Four: from a local veteran seed germinator:  As for damping off, I haven’t used any product for years. What I do is set up a small fan on a timer—during the day I have it on most of the time and during the night I have it come on for say ½ hour ever other hour. Damping off is airborne and the fan doesn’t allow it to settle on the soil/seedlings. As an added benefit it also mimics the wind and causes the small plants to grow stronger.

A Garden Observation – Gypsy Moth

During this period of isolation, people are being encouraged to connect or re-connect with the natural world.  As many know, our garden club president, Glen Spurrell provides a monthly column on the wonders to be found along the Medd’s’ Mountain Trail as well as at the Millpond for The Millbrook Times.  He will share some of these wonders and wonders in his own garden in future e-blasts.

Here is an outdoor project adults and children alike can take part in on their own property or out in natural areas.

Some might remember back in the late 1980s when there was a serious infestation of gypsy moths in Millbrook and area and it was thought the  trees would never recover. Fortunately they did thanks to a brutally cold winter that killed off many of the overwintering egg masses. However, we no longer experience these kind of very frigid temperatures and the overwintering egg masses of gypsy moths can survive some level of freezing temperatures. 

This is the perfect time to go after the egg masses of this destructive imported pest.  The gypsy moth,  a native of Europe, was introduced in 1868 into the United States by Étienne Léopold Trouvelot, a French scientist living in Medford, Massachusetts who imported the species in order to try and breed a more robust caterpillar to be used in the silk industry. His plan failed and as it always seems with these invasive threats, some of the moths escaped, found suitable habitat, and began breeding and faced no significant dangers from predators. The caterpillars have voracious appetites for more than 500 species of trees and shrubs. The caterpillars defoliate trees, leaving trees vulnerable to diseases and other pests and can eventually kill them. Millions of acres of trees have been impacted since it first showed up in Ontario in 1969. 

Fortunately the egg masses are really easy to spot as indicated in the photos below.  So you might want to engage in a scavenger hunt to see how many you can find. Check not only trees but lawn furniture, under decks etc. At one time it was thought just scraping the masses onto the ground was enough kill the eggs, but apparently this is no longer thought to be true.  The best control is to scrape off the egg masses into a pail and then soak the masses in  soapy water, bleach or ammonia or into a bag that is then burned.  Dormant oil combined with lime sulphur applied to an affected  tree or trees now  will smother the eggs before they hatch. The female egg laying moth is very distinctive because it is large and very white. The pupae are dark brown. Note:  Each egg cluster contains from 100 to 1000 eggs!!!!


So…  spread the word and take up the challenge  – perhaps send in a count of how many egg masses you destroyed.  In one short trip to my woodland I scraped off over 50 egg masses. 

How dear the woods are! You beautiful trees! I love every one of you as a friend. ~Lucy Maud Montgomery, Anne of Avonlea, 1909

Your Millbrook & Area Garden Club Executive: Glen Spurrell, President, Wendy Olsen, Past President Jane Zednik, Liz Avery, Carol Alexander, Elizabeth Fischer, Ruth Benns, Edith Steinbeck

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