Coldframes & Fall Gardening

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This year, gardening has been difficult. We have faced a great deal of challenges. Our early spring gardens didn’t do as well due to flooding. And our summer gardens were late to get planted in many locations because of rainy weather and water soaked soils. Then, the rainy, cool weather shut off and we were faced with hot conditions and many of our plants had a lot of fungal diseases due to the rainy spring.

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So, now the option is to get a great fall garden to help stock your pantry and freezer with preserved vegetables for the winter. Fall gardens are a great way to grow many of our spring vegetable crops again for more harvest or to get harvest from plants that may not have been very productive in the spring. The good thing about a fall garden is that you can have less insect pressure on the plants in the fall because the peak numbers for many of our insect pests is in the summer, and should be tapering off by the fall. Hopefully you already planted your fall garden. They need to be planted in the beginning to the middle of August to ensure a harvest before frost hits.

If you didn’t get you fall garden planted in the beginning part of August, you still may have a chance to extend your growing season. You can build a coldframe. A coldframe is described by Missouri Extension as “a protected plant bed with no artificial heat added”. This is a good way to keep summer plants protected a bit longer into the fall or keep fall plantings a lot further into the fall. You build a box frame that is higher in the back than it is in the front and cover it with transparent plastic. This box is placed over the garden to increase the temperature of it by 5-10 degrees. You can even get a few more degrees warmer if you place a blanket over top of that on really cold nights.

Photo from Iowa State University Extension

Coldframe Photo from Iowa State University Extension

A coldframe garden should be placed on the south side of a building to receive the highest amount of sunlight to keep it warmest. If it gets warm during the day, you can lift the lid of the cold frame and prop it up to ventilate the garden. A coldframe can also be used in the spring to harden off any plants that you grow from seed indoors.

Coldframes are great to use to get a little more production out of some of our summer vegetable crops, especially if we see an early frost. It is also a great way to extend the growing period for many of our fall vegetable crops. This will allow us to go further into the fall.

Fall Yard and Garden Issues

Fall will be here before we know it. Take the time to read this to help you through all of your horticulture and insect issues during the fall months.

Bare lawn in need of overseeding.

Bare lawn in need of overseeding.

For fall lawncare, September is a good month for overseeding, fertilizing, and aerating your lawn. If you have bare spots from the floods or have a thin lawn, you can overseed in the month of September, before the 15th will have better establishment before winter, Kentucky bluegrass and tall fescue are the best choices for seed in Nebraska. Remember to fertilize with the holidays, and Labor Day and Halloween are coming up for our final two applications for this year. If your lawn has a deep thatch layer, over 1 inch, you may need to aerate your lawn, fall is a good time for aeration as well.

Weeds in a lawn

Weed control is better in the fall. Many of our perennial weeds and winter annuals will get much better control if they are treated in the fall. This year has been a great growing season for many of our lawn weeds, especially clover. Perennial weeds such as Dandelions, creeping Charlie or ground ivy, and clover, are best controlled in the fall with either 2,4-D or Triclopyr products. Remember to apply these chemicals on days when the temperatures are predicted to be at or below 80 degrees for 72 hours. This is the time of the year when these weeds are taking their nutrients back into their roots for next season’s growth, so they will take the herbicide with them to get a better kill. The winter annuals such as Henbit are just beginning their growth in the fall so it is best to treat them now rather than in the spring when they are almost done with their growing season.

It is finally getting close to the time of the year when we can begin cutting back our perennial plants. Once these plants die back in the fall, when their leaves turn brown, we can cut them back for the year. Peonies and Iris are two plants that should be cut back in the fall to avoid diseases spreading from this season to next since these plants tend to get leaf spot diseases annually. When you go to remove the spent leaves, you can also divide these plants and transplant them if you need them in a different location. Avoid pruning roses and butterfly bushes until the early spring to avoid problems with moisture getting into the hollow stems of these plants. If you have a shrub that blooms early in the spring, such as lilac, forsythia, weigela, some spireas, and some hydrangeas, wait to cut those back until after bloom next spring to avoid removing flower buds that are already on the shrub for next year.

Center photo by S. Cochran, Lancaster County Extension

Center photo by S. Cochran, Lancaster County Extension

Watch for fall invading insects in your home in the fall. This is the time of year when many insects will begin to invade our homes. As it begins to get cooler outside, insects move into our homes to stay warm. Many of the insects we see in the fall inside our homes include boxelder bugs, Asian multicolored ladybeetles, stinkbugs, spiders, millipedes, centipedes, and ants. These insects are mostly just a nuisance to us when they come into our homes. The best control for these would be to seal up all cracks where they can enter our homes and to use the insect barrier sprays around the home, especially around doors and windows.

2nd Annual Gage County Master Gardener Tour

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On Monday, August 17th, I took the Gage County Master Gardeners and some fun guests on our 2nd Annual Gage County Master Gardener Tour. It was a rainy day, but we still managed to have a great time and learn some things on the way. It is such a joy for me to get to work with these wonderful people all the time because they are so eager to learn about horticulture and they are so much fun to be around as well!

Stock Seed Farms

Stock Seed Farms

The first stop on the tour was to Stock Seed Farms in Murdock, Nebraska. This was neat to see how they work and how they develop, package, market, and ship out so many different types of wildflower and native grass seed throughout the entire country. It was interesting to hear how they harvest and sort the seeds from all of the “fluff” to get a good Pure Live Seed Number for their packaging so that people are getting mostly seed in their orders without other materials filling the weight. We got to see the equipment they used to sort the seeds and we got to see the enormous amount of seed they had in their facility. I was astonished at the enormous bags of clover seed that most of us are trying to rid from our lawns, but in a naturalized area of an acreage it is a great plant to have. They even had a bag of crabgrass seed that is used in the Southern parts of the United States for a forage plant for horses and other livestock. This was odd for us horticulturists who are working all spring and summer to keep it out of our lawns and gardens. The rain did disrupt our tour a little, as we were not able to go out and see the fields of wildflowers and native grasses, except what we saw from the shed or on the bus ride among the fields Stock Seed Farms owns. It was an enjoyable experience that many of us will never forget.

Lauritzen Gardens

Lauritzen Gardens

After lunch in Ashland, we ventured on to Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha. This was an awesome experience. We took the tram tour through the gardens so we were able to see all of the gardens with much less walking. We didn’t get to go through all of the individual gardens this route, but since it was raining, the tram tour was a good choice. The trams were covered so we didn’t get too wet. I enjoyed the Model Train Garden, the small bridges were very unique and well-made. The whole garden was very interesting and it could take an entire day to thoroughly get through it all. We definitely didn’t have enough time there, but it was still great to get to see some of it and see how many different types of plants available to Nebraska growers. The best part is that it is always growing as the tour discussed with us future plans for new gardens.

HOPE Gardens

HOPE Gardens

Finally, we were able to join up with the Douglas County Master Gardeners at their HOPE Gardens. The HOPE garden was started in 2003 by Nebraska Extension in partnership with Faithful Shepherd Presbyterian Church as a vegetable garden project to Help Omaha’s People Eat (H.O.P.E.). This garden provides fresh produce to the Heartland Hope Mission food pantry in Omaha. In 2014, the garden produced over 9,000 pounds of fresh produce that was donated to this city mission. It was a very interesting garden to tour. The Master Gardeners who work on this garden work very hard!! They start all the plants from seed in their homes and they planted a lot of crops! They have all types of different vegetables, fruits, and now a pollinator garden to help with pollination. Everyone needs fresh produce!

2015 MG Tour Rainbow Collage

The day was a huge success!! Great fun and we learned a lot. Plus, the day ended beautifully, after all the rain all day, we saw a full, double rainbow on the way home. I was able to catch a photo of it, but seeing it in person was much better. Thanks to all of the great Master Gardeners and guests for making this day fun! Hopefully we can find some great places to go next year, I know that the participants are already starting to come up with ideas for another trip next year.

What to do with my garden in the fall?

Photo by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service

Photo by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service

August is here, which means fall will soon follow, and hopefully cooler temperatures. Many of us are just getting started in our garden harvest due to the rainy May and June we faced that led to later planting dates. Some of our vegetables can be harvested and frozen or canned and some need to be dried for winter storage. Here are some helpful tips for produce from your garden through the winter months.

Peppers, onions, and tomatoes can all be harvested when mature and frozen without having to blanch them, or use a hot-water bath for them. These vegetables can be cut into strips or dice, laid on a cookie sheet for initial freezing then placed into freezer bags for long-term freezer storage and used in recipes for cooked vegetables throughout the winter. Tomatoes and hot peppers can be frozen the same manner, but they can be frozen whole with just the stem removed. Many of our other vegetables, such as zucchini and green beans can be frozen, but need to be blanched prior to freezing.

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Many of our vegetables can also be stored, whole, fresh, for weeks to months in our homes after gardens have froze for the year. Carrots can be stored, unwashed, in a container of moist sand in 35-40 degrees Fahrenheit for 4-5 months. Turnips can be treated the same way as carrots for the winter.

Some of our vegetables need to be cured prior to bringing indoors for fresh storage. Onions need to cure for best results of long, indoor storage. Onions should dry in a single layer in the shade or well-ventilated garage or shed for 1-2 weeks or until the tops have completely dried and shriveled. After curing they can be stored for 1-8 months, they store longer in temperatures close to 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Potatoes also can be stored longer after curing. They should be cured at 60-75 degrees Fahrenheit for 1-2 weeks. After curing, they can be stored at 40-45 degrees for several months.

It is in the early part of the month of August that we can also begin to think about extending our growing season with a fall garden. Fall gardens are sometimes more productive than spring gardens, and that may be the case this year if your garden was prone to flooding this spring.

For a fall harvest, plant:

  • Beets August 1-10
  • Carrots August 1-15
  • Chinese cabbage August 1-20
  • Lettuce August 1-5
  • Mustard August 1-25
  • Radish August 1-20
  • Snap beans August 1-5
  • Spinach August 20- September 15
  • Swiss chard August 1-20
  • Turnips August 1-15
    • (from Backyard Farmer online calendar).

The first frost in Beatrice occurs on September 29, on average and is within a week either way for the surrounding counties. So the best way to determine when to plant a fall garden is to count backward from the first frost date and compare it to your harvest time listed on the package. For example, if your lettuce says that it takes 50 days to mature, planting on August 1 will give you mature lettuce by the end of September. This will ensure that you will have a harvest before the frost hits.

Summer Vining Weeds

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It is summer. Our gardens are out in full force and finally beginning to produce edible products. One of the biggest problems in gardens, are the weeds. There are many different types of weeds that come into our gardens, and control of these pests is very difficult.

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Bur Cucumber vine growing on a Blue Spruce

Wild cucumber and burcucumber are two very similar vining weeds that can be found in your vegetable garden, flower garden, and growing up the sides of trees in a windbreak. These vines looks a lot like a cucumber vine that we intentionally grow in our gardens. The wild cucumber has deeper lobes than burcucumber but both will vine up and hold onto plants and other objects, such as tomato cages, with tendrils.

Bindweed growing on a Peony

Bindweed growing on a Peony

Bindweed is another common problem anywhere in the landscape. This weed has arrowhead shaped leaves and a small, petunia-shaped, white or pink flower. This weed vines and holds onto plants with the stems of the vine rather than using tendrils. Bindweed is an invasive weed that can climb up on your plants and cause decreased growth and other issues as the bindweed covers the leaves and plants.

Good control for either of these vining weeds would include many different broadleaf herbicides. If applied early in the spring or late in the fall, 2,4-D can be used for both of these weeds. 2,4-D should not be applied when the temperatures for 72 hours are predicted to be above 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Products that contain the active ingredient of Triclopyr will also work for these weeds and can be used if the temperatures for 24 hours is predicted to be below 80 degrees Fahrenheit. If the weeds are growing in and among other desired plants, the best option would be a stump treatment after cutting the weed back or painting it on the leaves of the weed being careful to not get the herbicide on the desired plants.

In a vegetable garden, most herbicides are not advised for use due to the movement of the pesticide. Broadleaf herbicides would work for these vining weeds, however, they would also cause damage and possibly death of the crops growing in your garden because most of our vegetable garden plants are broadleaf plants as well. These herbicides can spread to our desired vegetable plants through direct spray, wind movement, through the soil, and by turning into a gas and moving toward the desired plants.

The best control for many weeds in our vegetable gardens would be mulch and hand pulling. Good mulch choices include straw, hay, wood chip mulch, or grass clippings. Be cautious when using grass clippings on your garden. Many herbicide labels now have more conservative recommendations that state that grass clippings from lawns to which a herbicide has been applied should never be used as mulch. If this is stated on the herbicide label, that must be followed. If the label does not state this, it is recommended to wait 3-5 mowings from application of herbicides to use of the mulch. The safest option is to avoid using grass clippings on your gardens if the lawn has been treated with herbicides that growing season. If you are unsure of where the clippings came from or when or if they have been treated this season, avoid use of these clippings as mulch to avoid any contamination from the herbicides.

Yard and Garden: July 17, 2015

Yard and Garden Green Logo

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for July 17, 2015. Yard and Garden Live is a call-in radio show I do on KUTT 99.5 FM from 10-11:30 am and it will run through July 31, 2015. It can also be found on kutt995.com for online listening. If you missed a show or just want to read through the questions, I have written them all in my blog and will continue to do so throughout the season.

Guest Host: Steve Karloff, with Special Guest Jennifer Morris from the Nebraska Forest Service

1. A caller has a 35 year-old spruce tree that has needles that are turning pink, brown starting at the bottom of the tree on the east side. What could be causing this?

A: This sounds like needle cast disease, a fungal disease, that is common in blue spruces this year due to the rains in the spring. The treatment period for this was in the spring prior to development of the disease. It should not kill the tree. Make sure that the tree is properly cared for with 1 inch of watering per week, applied slowly, and a mulch ring of 2-3 inches deep.

2. A gentleman has cucumbers that are developing improperly. They are large at one end and very skinny at the blossom end of the fruit. What would be the issue with this odd developed fruit?

A: This could be due to environmental conditions. Dry conditions, which we have seen since the rain quit in early June, could lead to poor fruit development. It can also be due to poor pollination. Avoid use of insecticides if pollinator insects such as bees are present around the fruit.

Green June Beetles

Green June Beetles

3. A gentleman brought in some metallic green beetles that are very large. What are they?

A. These are green June beetles. They are not damaging to our plants and therefore require no management tactics.

4. A caller has a shady area on the North side of the house. What would be a good groundcover for this area?

A: Holly, purple leaf wintercreeper, vinca, lily of the valley, hostas, snowberry, coralberry, Bleeading hearts, or coral bells will all grow well in a shady environment on the North side of a house. Many of these will stay around 2 feet or shorter, but the snowberry and coralberry and holly will all get taller. A good mixture of shade plants will look nice around a home.

5. A caller has an oak tree that is well established. He is looking for a good groundcover to plant underneath that.

A: hostas, bleeding hearts, coral bells, vinca, and purple leaf wintercreeper will grow well under the shade of a large tree. Grape hyacinth can also be planted around the other plants for early spring color and fragrance with little impact to the landscape later in the season.

6. What are the tall blue flowers growing along the highway currently?

A: Chicory. This is a wildflower often used in roadside mixes or in native prairies. They have a sky blue flower and most of the leaves are located at the base of the plant rather than up along the taller flower stalks.

7. A gentleman has a windbreak of cedars that is dying. He sprayed 2,4-D underneath to kill the wild cucumber. The trees are 30-40 years old and they have bagworms but he has not treated. What can he do to keep the windbreak?

A: This could be due to bagworms. They are heavy this year and right now is a good time to spray with many general insecticides including sevin, eight, malathion, Bt, or Tempo. This could also be a side-effect of the 2,4-D that may have moved into the root zone more quickly with the rain events this year.

8. A caller wanted to know what the best recommendation for mosquito control prior to a get-together would be?

A: Mosquitoes can be controlled for a few days by using a hose-end sprayer with permethrin or bifenthrin which have a longer residual than some other insecticides. These sprays need to focus on the shrubs and trees and tall grasses around the yard where the gathering will occur and they should only be done 2-3 days prior to the gathering. Aerosol foggers that contain pyrethrins can be used shortly before the party begins to help reduce mosquito populations as well. For the time of the gathering, tiki torches and insect repellents containing DEET will help reduce additional mosquitoes.

Cedar-Hawthorn Rust

Cedar-Hawthorn Rust

9. A gentleman brought in a pear leaf with orange spots on the leaves. What would be causing this?

A: This is due to a rust disease, Cedar-Hawthorn Rust. It is very common this year due to the wet spring. The timing for management is in the spring, May and June. There is no need to control it at this point in the season. See this NebGuide on Cedar-apple rust and related rusts of apples and ornamentals.

10. A caller has a maple that is 10-12 years old with leaves that are wilting, turning brown, and falling off the tree. What could be the cause of this?

A: Look for green tissue under the bark on the branches. This could be due to a high flush of growth in the spring that put on too many leaves for the tree to maintain now that the weather has dried up and gotten hot.

11. The same caller wondered if there was a control method for pine wilt?

A: No, the best control would be to remove and destroy the tree as soon as possible after the disease is noticed in the landscape to reduce the spread of the disease to other trees.

Yard and Garden: July 10, 2015

Yard and Garden Green LogoThis is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for July 3, 2015. Yard and Garden Live is a call-in radio show I do on KUTT 99.5 FM from 10-11:30 am and it will run through July 31, 2015. It can also be found on kutt995.com for online listening. If you missed a show or just want to read through the questions, I have written them all in my blog and will continue to do so throughout the season.

Guest Host: Jim Kalisch, Diagnostician and Extension Associate for UNL on East Campus

1. A caller has an unwanted tree growing into her shrubs. Can she use a little bit of Tordon on the stump? Or what can she use for a stump treatment?

A: Tordon is not labeled for use in a landscape setting. Tordon and many of the other products used on parking lots have varying degrees of solubility and will move with water to non-target areas and can cause damage. These products can move off of the parking lot to nearby greenspace and through the rootzones of trees to nearby plants causing damage and possibly death to your desired plant species. That is why these products are only to be used in the locations listed on the label, and not in your home landscape. Instead of using Tordon, a good alternative would be one of the brush killers that are found in many different formulations or Roundup that are labeled for use in our landscapes and won’t harm our non-target plants.

2. A gentleman wanted to know when the best time is for spraying his apple trees for insects found in the apples?

A: Anytime now would be a good time to apply Orchard Fruit Tree Sprays for coddling moth. If you continue to use these products for a few weeks, you will also be able to control apple maggots.

3. A lady has tomatoes that continue to get blight every year that causes spots on the leaves which eventually causes the leaves to turn yellow. She has heard that she needs to clean her tomato cages with bleach water to control the disease. Is this true? How can she control this disease in her tomatoes?

A: Early blight is very common in tomatoes this year due to all the rain we saw this spring. Fungal diseases are easily controlled with good sanitation practices in the garden. The fungal spores can be splashed in rain or overhead irrigation from the soil to the plant leaves and from leaf to leaf. Mulch will help to cover the soil where many of the fungal spores are present from previous years. Removing the leaves at the bottom of the plant when the disease begins to show up will reduce the spread as well. Irrigation should occur from below the leaves from a soaker hose or from drip irrigation rather than from a sprinkler to reduce the spread of these spores, too. Cleaning up the garden in the fall and rotating the crops each year will also help reduce the fungal spores found around the plants each spring. For more information, visit this NebGuide on Leaf and Fruit Diseases of Tomatoes.

mosquito4. A caller was curious what the best control methods for mosquitoes from the backyard for outdoor gatherings this summer would be?

A: Mosquitoes can be controlled for a few days by using a hose-end sprayer with permethrin or bifenthrin which have a longer residual than some other insecticides. These sprays need to focus on the shrubs and trees and tall grasses around the yard where the gathering will occur and they should only be done 2-3 days prior to the gathering. Aerosol foggers that contain pyrethrins can be used shortly before the party begins to help reduce mosquito populations as well. For the time of the gathering, tiki torches and insect repellents containing DEET will help reduce additional mosquitoes.

5. A gentleman has a 30 foot tall silver maple that has water collecting where a branch was removed. Is there anything that can be done to fix this issue and to stop the spread of decay in the trunk?

A: There is no way to stop the water from collecting. Concrete or spray foam should not be added to any holes in trees. Ensure that the best pruning cuts are made at the right time on trees to prevent this problem from occurring in the first place. A good pruning cut should heal over before water can begin to destroy the heartwood of the tree. Watch this particular tree for more signs of decay and dieback to know when it should be removed so that a dangerous tree is not left standing in a yard for a larger hazard.

6. A caller has something that is causing holes on the edge of her garden and lawn and around her shrubs. The holes are 5 inches wide and 6 inches deep. What would cause this?

A: This sounds like it might be a woodchuck. Here is some information on Woodchucks from the Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Prevention.

7. When is the best time to plant fall gardens?

A: Late July to early August.

planting fall gardens8. An email was recieved that asked about why there are such large numbers of snails this year in the lawn?

A: This year we had an extended spring with cooler weather than usual with very good plant growth, as a result of this we are seeing an increase in snails and slugs. We are seeing a great deal of damage to hosta leaves due to slugs. Slugs can be controlled with pesticides labeled for slugs or with a container of beer placed in the ground so the top of the container is at soil level. The slugs are attracted to the beer and will fall in and drown.

Don’t Forget

If you are a listener to the Yard and Garden show on KUTT 99.5 FM or online or if you are an avid reader of the blog Q&A, please fill out the 2015 Yard and Garden Survey. When you fill out the survey and put down contact information, you will be entered into a drawing for a gift of University of Nebraska-Lincoln goodies, including 2 shopping bags. Your information will not be redistributed or used for any other purposes than to improve the show and to pick a winner for the prize and your contact information is not linked to your answers. To complete the survey, go to: go.unl.edu/7cza

Chiggers…They make me so itchy!!

Container GardensIt’s summer! It is a great time to be outdoors working in the garden, playing in the sprinkler, and getting bug bites. I realize bug bites is not something we want to think about when we think about the joys of summer, but it’s a reality that they go together. Insects and other “bugs” are active in the summer months and that is when they feed on us. Mosquitoes, ticks, flies, gnats, and chiggers can be found throughout the summer months nagging us and leaving us with itchy, red bumps all over our bodies.

Chiggers are actually a type of arthropod, but not an insect. They are more closely related to a spider than they are to an insect because they have 8 legs. However, when mites are immature they do only have 6 legs, which makes it more confusing. Many people will also call chiggers “jiggers” which is the same thing, these would just be different common names for the same mite. The stage that bites us is an immature form of the common red harvest mite.

Chigger Bite photo by V. Jedlicka, Lancaster County Extension.

Chigger Bite photo by V. Jedlicka, Lancaster County Extension.

Chiggers differ from mosquitoes and ticks by their food choices. They do bite us but they do not do it to suck our blood. They pierce us with their mouthpart to inject their salivary fluid that breaks down the host animal’s cells so they can then suck up the liquefied tissue as a drink. The enzymes that are found in their salivary fluid is what causes an itchy reaction to us. Chiggers prefer to feed in locations that are constricted such as sock tops or waistbands. If we itch the bite mark bacteria and fungi can get into the bite if we itch the spot, which can cause more problems and an occasional infection. The best thing for the bite is to avoid itching it by using an antihistamine cream on each bite.

Many people believe that chiggers burrow into our skin and that is what causes the itch. These people also believe that painting nail polish over the bites will smother and kill the chigger, thus eliminating the itch. This is not true. Chiggers are easily removed from our bodies with soap and water. They only will stay on you until they are brushed off or until they are done feeding, from on top of our skin.

DEET insect repellant for chigger control

DEET insect repellent for chigger control

Chiggers can be found in your yard or anywhere with tall grass and weeds. The best way to keep from being bitten by chiggers would be to avoid sitting in grass. If you can lay down a blanket or sit in a chair you would be better off than if you sat directly in the grass. Also, it is best to wear long sleeved shirts and pants with socks and boots to eliminate locations where chiggers can get to our skin. Make sure that anytime you are outside in the summer months, you use insect repellents containing DEET to deter chiggers from feeding on you. If you find a large population of chiggers in your own lawn, a liquid treatment of bifenthrin will reduce chiggers 75-95 percent for several weeks, according to Fred Baxendale, UNL Entomologist.

Yard and Garden: July 3, 2015

Yard and Garden Green LogoThis is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for July 3, 2015. Yard and Garden Live is a call-in radio show I do on KUTT 99.5 FM from 10-11:30 am and it will run through July 31, 2015. It can also be found on kutt995.com for online listening. If you missed a show or just want to read through the questions, I have written them all in my blog and will continue to do so throughout the season.

Guest Host: Julie Albrecht, Professor in Health and Nutrition Sciences at UNL

1. A caller had a Bradford Pear tree with brown limbs on approximately 1/4 of the tree. What would be causing that?

A: This is probably due to fireblight which has been very common in many of our fruit trees this year, including pear and crabapple. If that is the case, prune out the infected limbs by cutting 6-8 inches behind the change in color on the branch from brown to black. Dip pruners into bleach water between each cut to reduce the spread of the disease through the tree.

2. The first caller also has moles in her yard, how can she control them?

A: Moles can be controlled by trapping. Find an active run by tapping the mounds down a few times prior to placing the trap in the run. If the mound returns each time it is knocked back into the hole, it is active and the mole will come back after the trap is set. For more information see the Moles publication from the Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management.

3. A caller has a pond that has a lot of moss. How can this be controlled?

A: Copper Sulfate Crystals will work best on algae/moss. It is best if it is applied when the growth first becomes visible.

Photo by Howard F. Schwartz, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org

Nutsedge Photo by Howard F. Schwartz, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org

4. A gentleman wanted to know how to control nutsedge?

A: The best control for nutsedge is Sedgehammer, a product that is specific to sedges. It needs to be reapplied throughout the growing season to small plantings before they produce new nutlets that will produce more plants.

5. A gentleman has an ash tree that has many shriveled leaves with insects on the underside of the leaves. What can he do to control these insects?

A: These are probably lacebugs or aphids. Use a general insecticide such as sevin, eight, or malathion to control these insects on the ash tree. Lacebugs and aphids suck the juices out of the tree which will cause discoloration and curling leaves.

6. A lady has tomatoes that are curling and shriveling, she didn’t notice any insects or spots on the leaves. What would be causing this?

A: This could be possibly a virus or 2,4-D drift. If it is herbicide drift, the plants will grow out of it eventually and the new growth should be normal. If it is a virus there is no cure and the plant will continue to grow abnormally.

7. A lady has a mandevilla plant that has leaves that are turning yellow with spots. What would cause this problem?

A: This could be due to environmental factors such as high moisture early in the growing season or due to a fungal leaf spot. Ensure that the plant is getting the correct amount of moisture at all times. Use a fungicide on the plant to help with a fungal disease, Daconil is a good choice for fungicide.

8. A gentleman is curious about vegetable preservation techniques. Do you have to blanch all vegetables that you will be freezing and will you lose nutrients when you blanch these vegetables?

A: Blanching is necessary for all vegetables to stop growth and stop enzyme production that can cause the vegetables to lose flavor. Blanching also helps maintain the freshness and color in your vegetables. Blanching only needs to be done for a very short period of time, followed by plunging the produce into ice water to stop the cooking process. After it is drained, the vegetables can be put into freezer bags for freezing. For more information regarding food preservation, visit the National Center for Home Food Preservation for the safest recommended procedures for food preservation.

9. A lady has some trees that have been planted in the past couple of years and now it looks as if something has come and eat the top off of the trees. Now there is suckering at the base of the plant. What would have chewed on these trees and can those suckers be used to grow a new tree?

A: Deer is likely the culprit for chewing off the trees. The best control for deer would be to add some type of fencing to exclude deer from the trees. The suckers are coming up at the base of the plant because the top has likely died back which forced the trees to produce suckers for new growth. The suckers may be weak or not grow straight, but with additional help a new tree may be able to regrow from the suckers. It might be best for new trees to be planted for best growth and strongest trees.

10. A caller dug out their pond and moved some of the soil to a garden spot. The vegetables growing there are growing but have no fruits on them. What would cause this?

A: This is likely due to high nitrogen that came from the soil at the bottom of the lake. Nitrogen is a nutrient that will cause green leafy growth that can sometimes suppress vegetable production. I would suggest a soil test to determine what to do with the garden to help production improve.

Roseslug Collage

Photo on the left of the roseslug on the underside of the leaf, Photo on the right of the damage from roseslugs

11. A caller has roseslugs on his roses. They have destroyed about 80% of the leaves on the plant. What can be done about this?

A: If a roseslug population is low, control is not necessary. However, this sounds excessive so a controlling spray with a general insecticide such as Eight will work for these roseslugs. Be careful to not spray the rose flowers to reduce impact on pollinator insects.

12. When is the best time to transplant Iris’?

A: Fall is the best time for transplanting Iris and Peonies. Transplanting now would be difficult because when they get moved they have limited roots and in the hot, dry part of the summer it would be hard to keep the plants hydrated enough to keep it alive.

13. A caller has cherry trees that have much of the cherry crop as rotten fruits hanging on the trees. What would cause this?

A: This is brown rot, it is a fungal disease that is common in cherry trees this year due to the wet spring. There is no control for it at this time. Fungicides should be applied early in the spring to prevent this disease.

14. A caller has a cherry tree that one side of it has died. What has caused this problem? He did have some damage occur to the trees a few years ago due to cattle foraging through the area.

A: The cattle likely injured the bark of the tree causing it to get a canker on the trunk. The canker would cause a disruption in the flow of water and nutrients throughout the tree. There is no cure for the canker. He can try to prune out the dead branches and see if it will come out of it in the next couple of years.

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