Yard and Garden: May 27, 2016

Yard & Garden for blog

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for May 27, 2016. 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 August 5, 2016. 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: Dick Campbell, Owner of Campbell’s Nursery in Lincoln

1. The first question of the day came via email. A listener wanted to know how to control clover in their lawn?

A. Clover is best managed in the fall months when it is pulling nutrients from the leaves into the roots, it will take the chemical into the roots as well. Products with triclopyr work best, but 2,4-D will work as well. Make 2-3 applications in September and October for best control.

Mallow, Phil Westra, Co State Univ, Bugwood

Common Mallow photo by Phil Westra, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org

2. A walk-in question was for identification of a weed.

A. This weed is mallow. It is a difficult weed that will move throughout our gardens. It can be controlled with a careful application of Glyphosate (Roundup). Be careful not to spray any other plants with the glyphosate product.

3. A caller wanted to know when she can transplant daylilies and Iris?

A. The daylily could be transplanted now. It would be best to move these in the spring or in the fall, but daylilies are a tough plant and would be fine if moved now as long as they are kept well watered when it is hot because the root system isn’t developed at the new location yet. Iris would be best if transplanted in the fall.

4. A caller has earthworms making his lawn uneven. What can be done to control those?  This caller also wanted to know if he can water houseplants with water that goes through a water softener?

A. Earthworms are very beneficial to our soils as they reduce compaction and add organic matter back to our soils. The damage from them is only seen for a couple of weeks in the spring with rains. If you can deal with it for a short time, it is best to avoid treating for them. If you have to treat, Sevin insecticide does have some management capabilities for your lawn. As for watering the houseplants with water from a water softener, it is best to use water prior to the softener due to the increase of salts in the water.

5. This caller wants to know how far away from the house a shade plant should be planted? She also wants to know how she can manage grass in Iris’?

A. Spacing the tree from the house depends on the tree chosen and what the full size of that tree is. For many of the oak or maple shade trees, it is best to go 25-35 feet or farther from the house to ensure no problems develop as the tree grows. The grass in the Iris bed can be controlled with Grass-B-Gon.

6. A caller has a cherry tree that the top broke off but it is still attached to the main trunk. Can it be saved?

A. There is no way to re-attach a broken off branch. This branch will have to be removed. Because this is the only branch that is still producing leaves and cherries, the tree should be removed and replaced.

7. A caller has 2 rhubarb patches that were damaged badly by hail. The leaves look terrible. Should those leaves be removed or left on the plant?

A. If there are new leaves growing below the damaged leaves, the damaged leaves can be removed. However, if those damaged leaves are all that is alive on the plant right now, they should be left on the plant until new leaves begin to grow so that the plant can still grow and build nutrients for next spring.

8. A sample was brought in of a trumpet vine with many little insect all over the stem, leaves, and flowers. The plant has been sprayed with Sevin with no control. What can be done for this trumpet vine?

A. Sevin is not an effective method of control for aphids. In high populations you can use Eight or Malathion. Aphids are not very damaging to our plants and they are fairly short lived. Given time, predatory insects will move onto the aphids to control them without chemicals.

9. This caller was looking into planting apple trees and found there is a disease called cedar-apple rust. Is this a concerning disease here and what should be done to avoid problems with it?

A. Yes, cedar-apple rust is a damaging problem for apple trees. The spores can spread up to 2 miles, so it is best to plant a resistant apple tree cultivar. It is also good to look for cultivars that are resistant to apple scab. For choosing your cultivar, here is a publication from Purdue that lists common apple tree varieties and their disease susceptibility: Disease Susceptibility of Common Apple Cultivars

10. A sample was brought in of a tulip tree with leaves that are puckered and rolled downward. What would be the problem with this tree?

A. This tree has aphids on the underside of the leaves that are sucking the juices out of the leaves. Aphids are not terribly damaging to our plants and are fairly short lived. In high populations you can use Eight or Malathion.

11. Is there a dry granular weed killer for the lawn? When is the time to move gooseberries, iris, peonies, and rhubarb?

A. Fertilome is a good dry, granular weed killer. This is best applied early in the morning so it will stick to the leaf blades with the morning dew. Gooseberries should be moved after dormancy. Iris and peonies should be moved in the fall, typically in September when the tops begin to turn yellow. The rhubarb should be moved after they are dormant in the fall or early spring.

12. This caller has asparagus that has been planted in this location for many years and is now dying out. She fertilizes 2-3 times per year with a general fertilizer. What is causing this problem and can it be fixed? She also wants to know if she can use canning salt or Epsom salt in her garden? And, finally, she wants to know what to do for the aphids on her honeysuckle?

A. Asparagus will die out due to age. It would be beneficial to dig it up this fall after it goes dormant and divide the plants to replant as individual clumps. When replanting, sprinkle some bone meal in the hole to help with fertility. As for using epsom salt in the garden, this is not necessary. Epsom salt is magnesium sulfate which is in good supply in Nebraska soils. If nutrients are necessary in your garden, it is best to use a general purpose fertilizer. Canning salt can harm your plants and damage the soil. It is not a recommended practice to use any type of salt in your garden. As for the honeysuckle aphids, those should be controlled with Eight or Malathion. The aphids on honeysuckle can cause witches broom to the plant so they should be controlled.

13. Do raspberries and blackberries need to be grown on a trellis?

A. Yes, a trellis or an espalier would be a good way to grow them. Here is a good guide to growing raspberries and blackberries from Missouri Extension

14. Can red and black raspberries be planted together?

A. Don’t plant them within 20 feet of each other or they will cross pollinate and the fruits will not taste as good.

15. A caller has rhubarb that is shooting up stalks with seeds on them. What should be done with those?

A. Those seed stalks should be removed. Cut the stalk off at the ground. If left the plant will put energy into producing seed that should be stored for leaf and stalk production.

16. The last caller of the day has a mandevilla plant that is growing outdoors in a pot with a trellis. The leaves are now turning yellow and black. What is causing this and how can it be managed?

A. This is a moisture issue. The heavy rains this year are causing a leaf fungus to occur. A rose and flower systemic containing a fungicide can be applied to the plant to help reduce the disease.

Nebraska Wildflower Week

Wildflowers blog

Nebraska is a wonderful place to live. One of my favorite things in the spring and summer months is to drive around and see all of the beautiful flowers blooming along the roadsides, many of which are wildflowers.

For 2016, Nebraska Wildflower Week will be celebrated June 3rd through June 12th. Nebraska Wildflower Week is observed every year in early June. The Nebraska Statewide Arboretum is a coordinator of this event. Wildflower Week is aimed to increase awareness and appreciation of wildflowers and native plants in the wild and in the landscape through an array of events and activities across Nebraska, according to the Statewide Arboretum.

One of the events for the 2016 Nebraska Wildflower Week will be held right here in Beatrice. The Beatrice Public Library will have a display of books and information on wildflowers. They will also have wildflower seedlings that were started by the Gage County Master Gardeners that will be given away for free as long as supplies last. The Seed Library also has a good selection of wildflower seeds and grass seeds available for free as well.

Planting your native and wildflower seeds and native grasses will take a few years of care before the area will become low-maintenance and beautiful. The site for planting needs to be prepared for wildflower planting. For preparation of the site, first apply a glyphosate herbicide, such as Roundup, to kill existing plant material and weeds to help the seedlings germinate better and have less competition. This herbicide should be applied 10-21 days prior to mowing and tilling the area to finish preparing the site for seeding. Seed wildflowers in the spring or in the fall and transplant container-grown plants then as well.

The first couple of years may seem disappointing to you in your new wildflower garden. Those first 2 years you may see no or very limited flower development as the plants need to grow good roots and build the plant up before it can begin growing flowers. The first growing season, you should mow this prairie area 1-3 times at the highest possible height on your lawnmower, waiting at least 1 month between each mowing. In the second year, you may need to mow your prairie one time in the summer. You may need to spot spray weeds during establishment but fertilizers are not necessary and can hinder growth by increasing weed growth and disturbing the natural process of wildflowers. By the third year, you should have a very low-management prairie for your landscape with many native wildflowers. Mow this once a year early in the spring or late in the fall.

Wildflower Collage

Wildflower Photos from the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum at: arboretum.unl.edu/wildflower-week

There are a lot of choices for wildflowers. Many locations will feature a seed mix which is a good choice for many different types of wildflowers that are already mixed together for a pleasing display. Bob Henrickson, from the Statewide Arboretum has a list of his top 12 wildflowers for Nebraska. This list includes: Beardtongue (Penstemon), Black-eyed Susan, Compass plant, Desert globemallow, Leadplant, Prairie Larkspur, Plains Coreopsis, Purple poppy mallow, Prairie coneflower, Yellow coneflower (Mexican Hat), Prairie Phlox, and Spiderwort. Any of these would be a great choice for your wildflower prairie. And remember wildflowers are not just for an acreage, they can be planted in a small garden space in town as well.

For more information on Nebraska Wildflower Week, Activities to attend, and a List of places to view Wildflowers, visit: http://arboretum.unl.edu/wildflower-week

 

Yard and Garden: May 20, 2016

Yard & Garden for blog

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for May 20, 2016. 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 August 5, 2016. 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: Natalia Bjorklund, Dodge County Extension Educator

1. The first caller of the day has a problem getting grass to grow where he removed an asparagus patch. What can he do to get his grass to grow?

A. This is a situation where it could be a few things attributing to the problem. He was keeping the seedbed watered, by watering it 3 times a day for about 10 minutes each time he watered. Watering is important for seedlings, they need to be kept moist, so short, frequent waterings are necessary. This area could be compacted from years of asparagus growth, so it might be beneficial to till the area up prior to planting. The other issue he is facing this year is that it has been quite cool this spring. Mixing the cool temperatures with the moisture, it might be too cold for germination. It is suggested to try again with new seed after tilling the soil up and a soil test may be necessary after that to ensure the soil is ok after so many years with asparagus on it.

2. A caller has a newly planted red maple tree with holes in the leaves. They do have black spots on the leaves as well. The new growth seems to not be affected like the original leaves. What would be the problem? Is this an insect issue?

A. This could be a leaf spot fungus with black spots on the leaves that have died out. When a leaf spot occurs on tree leaves, often the dead area will fall out of the leaf. Leaf spots are not very damaging to our plants. Since the new growth seems ok, it shouldn’t be treated and the tree will grow out of it and be fine.

3. A gentleman has evergreen trees that have brown tips on the branches. Is this being seen in other locations?

A. This is probably just an environmental problem on the branches that should fade in time. It is being seen in other trees, especially in white pines which are facing problems with winterkill, a common issue where the tips of needles on white pines turn brown after strong winter winds. It is not a concerning issue.

4. This caller wants to know how to control weeds growing around her containers that she is growing tomatoes and strawberries in? Can any chemicals be used that close to these crops?

A. Tomato plants are especially sensitive to chemical drift especially from 2,4-D which is a common herbicide used for lawn weeds. To be safest and not have problems from the 2,4-D being that close to the tomatoes and strawberries, mechanical control would be the safest option. mulching around the containers will help to keep the weeds from coming back.

5. A caller has blackberry leaves that are turning orange and then back to green. What would be causing this?

A. This sounds like the plant is having an issue with rust. The rust covered leaves then are falling off and new, uninfected leaves, are reappearing. Remove all infected leaves as soon as you notice the fungal spores. Rust will not kill the plant, it may show up on the berries slightly. Chemical controls are not necessary for a home gardener.

6. A gentleman planted fescue grass seed this spring and it seems to be a thin stand. Should it be overseeded? Will it fill in?

A. Fescue does not tiller out like bluegrass does. So it should be overseeded to help fill in the gaps in the turf.

7. What chemical can you use for tree stumps to help keep them from growing back?

A. 2,4-D is a good option to apply to a newly cut stump or drill into the stump and pour it into the holes. It can be mixed with Roundup to help as well. Do not use Tordon in a landscape setting as this would be a direct violation of the law.

8. This caller transplanted peonies a few years ago and they haven’t bloomed since they were moved. What is wrong with them?

A. If peonies are planted or transplanted too deeply in the soil they will not bloom. Dig the plants up and reposition them higher in the soil profile. It can be done now or in the fall, the fall would be the preferred time of the year.

2015-06-25 10.19.56

*Reference to commercial products or trade names is made with the understanding that no discrimination is intended of those not mentioned and no endorsement by University of Nebraska–Lincoln Extension is implied for those mentioned.

9. An email listener wanted to know if fertilizer changes composition over time?

A. Yes, it can break down and become less effective. If fertilizers are stored where they freeze and thaw continually or get moisture into them, they will not work as well as they originally did.

10. A caller has a windbreak that is dying. What are some good tree choices to replace the windbreak with?

A. Cedars, black hills spruce, Colorado blue spruce, Douglas fir, concolor fir, white pine, ponderosa pine, or Jack pine would all be good replacements. Make your windbreak out of a diverse selection of these trees. Don’t go with a windbreak of one tree species.

11. This caller has a peace lily that the leaves turn brown and then die back. It continues to go through this process. It has been repotted but is still exhibiting the damage. What is it and how can it be improved?

A. This could be due to overfertilization or too much salt content in the water. Try using distilled water for a while. It will flush out the salt content from previous water over time. Eliminate the use of any fertilization. It is a common problem in peace lily plants and they should be fine.

12. What chemicals can be used for bagworms and when should they be sprayed?

A. Bagworms are typically active in the third week of June and this would be the best time for spraying. The emergence of the bagworms is weather dependent and it can range from the middle of May to late July. Average years it is the third week of June for the timing of sprays. It is best to just watch your tree and spray when the new bags are 1/2-1 inch in length. You can treat them with general insecticides such as Sevin, Eight, Bt, or Tempo.

fern leaf peony, Lee Ruk Flickr

Photo of fern leaf peony from Lee Ruk via Flickr Creative Commons License

13. The last caller of the day wants to find a fern leaf peony. It seems to be hard to find. Where could she find this plant to purchase?

A. It should be fairly easy to find at a local nursery. Many of the box stores probably will not have this unique and interesting plant.

Yard and Garden: May 13, 2016

Yard & Garden for blog

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for May 13, 2016. 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 August 5, 2016. 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: Fred Baxendale, Horticulture Entomology Specialist, UNL

1. The first caller of the day wanted to know when to transplant Peonies? She also wanted to know if she moved them away from the black walnut tree would that help them grow?

A. It is best to transplant peonies in the fall, but it can be done in the spring as well. It would be fine to move them in the spring as well. It would be beneficial for the plant to be moved away from the black walnut tree to get away from the toxicity produced by the tree as a form of natural weed control for the tree to other plants. Black walnuts produce Juglone which reduces growth and, in some cases, kills the other plants so the black walnuts have less competition for water and nutrients. Planting things 50 yards from the tree will get it out of the zone where damage can occur.

2. A caller has a rose that is old and has grown to 6 feet tall. When can he transplant it? Also, what are the red “ticks” he found around his gardens when he has been working in them recently?

A. Roses are hard to transplant. Do the transplanting in the early spring of the year and take as much of the rootball as can be dug up when it is moved to help the shrub overcome the transplant shock. Maintain adequate water once it is moved. The red “ticks” would be clover mites. These are not damaging to the plants but can leave red marks on house siding and if inside on the walls and curtains. You can treat these with permethrin or insecticidal soap.

3. This caller has Peonies that accidentally got cut back drastically this year. Will they live through this and should she do anything for them?

A. They should be fine but they probably won’t bloom this year. Make sure they are adequately watered and they will regrow by the end of fall. They should be fine again next year.

EAB Damage Collage

Signs of an Emerald Ash Borer Infestation from Boulder Colorado

4. A caller has 2 ash trees in her yard. She has heard about Emerald Ash Borer and wanted to know if there was anything she could do to protect her trees?

A. Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) has not been found in Nebraska and we recommend waiting until EAB has been found within 15 miles of your trees before you begin treating them. It takes 2-4 years for the damage to show up in our trees once it is here, so you will have time to treat them when it does get here. In the meantime, don’t move firewood here from other locations and increase the diversity in your landscape to help fill in holes that may appear when EAB takes out your ash trees. Also, watch your trees for signs of EAB including top dieback, suckering at the base of the tree, increased woodpecker damage, bark falling off, and D-shaped exit holes and alert Nebraska Extension if your trees exhibit any of these signs of damage.

5. This caller has a 10-year-old red maple that has struggled to leaf out the past couple of years. The middle of the tree is entirely void of leaves. Should he remove the center of the tree?

A. Removing the center will not fix the problem. This could be a root issue or it may have been improperly planted which would take around 10 years to show signs of damage. This tree is near the end of its life and removal of the entire tree should be contemplated. There could be borers in the tree but that would be a secondary issue and using an insecticide on them wouldn’t fix the whole problem with this tree.

6. This caller planted a Bradford Pear 2 years ago, it is leaning now. What can be done to correct the leaning?

A. Don’t stake the tree to try to pull it back to the correct position. When we stake a tree to try to pull it back upright, this can cause a girdling issue to the tree and it is very damaging to the tree. Because this tree has only been planted for 2 years, it would be a good idea to try to dig it up and reposition it.

7. A caller has steep hills around his yard and doesn’t want to have to mow it. What groundcover choices would he have to grow instead of grass?

A. Buffalograss, dwarf sumac, crown vetch, or potentilla would all be good choices for this type of growing environment.

8. A caller wanted to know if she could use vinegar for weed control in the flower garden?

A. It is best to use pesticides that are labeled for use in the garden. Pesticides for weed control have been rigorously researched to ensure that they work properly and cause limited harm to the environment if applied correctly. When we use non-gardening products in the garden, there isn’t always research to know how those products will work in the garden and it may cause more problems to our plants or it may cause problems if they get into stormwater. If you want to avoid pesticides, it would be better to use cultural and mechanical methods of weed control such as hand pulling and using mulch for weed control.

9. This lady has ant hills in her lawn, what can she use to control them?

A. Ant colonies would be spreading now. Leave them alone now, but if they start to overrun the lawn or come inside, you can spray them with permethrin or bifenthrin. If they are not taking over the lawn, they are a predator insect so if you don’t need to control them, they can be beneficial for other bad insect management.

10. This caller has a barberry that she wants removed. Should she call Diggers Hotline before digging it up? Also, how can she remove and kill daylilies growing in her landscape?

A. Always call Diggers Hotline before you do any type of digging. It is a free service that will help you before a problem occurs. As for the Daylilies, the best option is to dig them up. Using pesticides on them would need repeated applications over many years. When you dig them up, you can offer them to your friends and family.

11. How can you control bromegrass in flowers and in strawberries?

A. In the flower garden, you can spray a Grass-B-Gon product to control the grass and not harm the flowers. Do not spray this to where it hits your lawn or any ornamental grasses. As for the strawberries, this product is not labeled for use in strawberries or other edible crops, so mulching and hand pulling would be the best option. You can also paint Glyphosate (Roundup) products on the leaves of the grass among the strawberries and not harm the strawberries.

crane fly, David Cappaert, Bugwood

Crane Fly photo by David Cappaert, Bugwood.org

12. What are the giant mosquitoes this caller has been seeing flying around? What do they do? Are they mosquito killers?

A. These would be crane flies. They are not harmful to us. They feed on nectar when they are adults, but can sometimes be a problem in the turf. They are not mosquito killers, they are in the same order as mosquitoes and look like a large mosquito, but do not eat them. The immatures live in moist environments.

13. Would it be ok to spray a 2,4-D product this weekend?

A. Yes, 2,4-D can turn into a gas and spread to non-target plants if the temperatures for 72 hours after spraying is above 80 degrees Fahrenheit. So, with this cool down predicted where the temperatures will be in the 60’s for the weekend, this would be a great time to spray. Just make sure that the wind speeds are very low.

14. This caller has onions that the tops are dying back on. They tops curl up and die, why is that?

A. Onion thrips can cause streaking on leaves, this may be from onion thrips. Onion maggots will feed on developing bulbs as well. It could also be from a root rot issue. Dig up one of the onions that are not looking healthy and inspect the bulb for signs of insects or disease.

15. A caller has a recently planted black oak tree that has all of the leaves stripped off of it.

A. It could be from canker worms. They are a short-lived problem in our oak trees. Using the Eight product will help to control them.

16. This caller transplanted walking/winter onions. The bulbs are developing below ground and on top they are flowering but not developing the bulbs on top of the plant. What would cause that?

A. Try to fertilize the plant to help it with nutrients that may be missing from the growth of the plant.

Bed Bugs while Traveling

2014-09-24 17.02.00

Denver Botanic Gardens

Summer is finally coming. With the end of school near and Memorial Day only a couple of weeks away, many of us will began planning our summer vacations. Summer vacations are so much fun and a great way to bond with your family. However vacations are not so much fun if you unintentionally bring home some unwanted guests, bed bugs.

Bed Bug after feeding

Bed bug photo by Vicki Jedlicka, Lancaster County Extension

Bed bugs are flat, wingless insects with adults reaching a size of approximately one-quarter of an inch in length. These insects are reddish brown and are usually a deeper red after they have finished feeding. Bed bugs feed on the blood of warm-blooded animals, mainly humans, but do not spread diseases.

bed bug bite 2

A common first indicator of bed bugs would be bite marks on your body. The bites are usually found around a person’s neck, arms, and shoulders, but sometimes are found on a person’s legs and ankles. The bite marks are not always a good indicator of bed bugs because 30 percent of the population does not react to bed bugs even when bitten repeatedly. Other signs of a bed bug infestation include small brown fecal spots on the bed, linens, pillows, or on items surrounding the bed such as the nightstand. You may also see the bed bugs themselves because they are large enough to see with the naked eye.

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Luggage in the bathtub while inspecting a room for bed bugs.

There are methods to protect yourself from a bed bug infestation while traveling. Check out the room you will be staying in before you put your belongings in the room. While doing a bed bug inspection in a hotel room, place your luggage in the bathtub where the bed bugs cannot access it. Look at the beds, sheets, behind the headboard and in the nightstand for fecal smears or the bugs themselves. If you don’t see anything, you should still be careful when you get home. Leave the luggage in the car in the sun for a few hours on a hot day to kill any bugs and eggs that may have gotten into your luggage. Also, take your clothes straight to the washer and dryer when you get home rather than leaving it in your bedroom for a few days prior to washing. If you wash clothing and dry it on the medium to hot setting for 20-30 minutes you will kill the bugs and eggs found in your laundry. If you can’t get it all washed right away, leave the luggage outside or in the garage until it can be moved to the washer or dryer. Inspect toiletries before bringing them indoors as well. A duffel bag is preferred to a suitcase because it can be thrown into the dryer after travel. Shoes and purses can be placed in the freezer for a few days to kill any bugs and eggs found on them.

Bed bugs are very hard to control, 88 percent of all bed bug populations have become resistant to the chemicals that we use to control them. Bug bombs are not effective at controlling bed bugs because the chemicals from the bug bomb cannot get to the hiding locations of bed bugs. If you have a bed bug infestation in your home it is best to contact a pest control company for management. Reducing clutter in your home will help reduce the infestation as well because bed bugs can hide in clutter to avoid being sprayed. Getting a bed bug infestation does not mean that you have a dirty house or that the hotel is not clean, they will infest anywhere people are commonly found because that is their food source.

Yard and Garden: May 6, 2016

Yard & Garden for blog

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for May 6, 2016. 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 August 5, 2016. 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: Jennifer Morris, Forest Health Specialist for the Nebraska Forest Service

1. The first caller of the day has peach, plum, and apple trees that were recently planted. Should she use tree spikes for fertilizer for the trees and when should that be done?

A. Fertilizer for a tree is usually not necessary in Nebraska soils. Let nature take its course to naturally fertilize the tree. Fertilizer should only be used on trees, or any plant, as it is necessary. A plant can be damaged or even killed if they have too much of a particular nutrient, so it is best to do a soil test prior to applying any type of fertilizer to your plant.

2. A caller has grasshoppers in his lawn and has problems with large populations in the past, but he also has beehives nearby where he would want to spray to control the grasshoppers. Can he treat the grasshoppers and not harm the bees?

A. Insecticides that are commonly used as sprays for grasshopper control are very toxic to bees. You should only use insecticides for the grasshoppers in this situation for serious situations where chemical control is necessary. If sprays are warranted, you would want to do so on a calm day so the spray does not drift to the bees and mow the lawn first to reduce flower heads present that could get pesticides on them to get onto the foraging bees.

3. There is a caller who wants to plant some new apple trees. The trees he currently has continue to face problems with cedar-apple rust. What tree cultivars should he choose that will not have the problems with this disease?

A. There are many apple trees that are resistant to cedar-apple rust. When planting a new apple tree it is best to go in with a tree that is resistant to this disease because cedar trees are common in Nebraska, which is the alternate host. This allows most any apple or crabapple tree to be vulnerable to the disease. For resistant cultivars, see page 3 of this NebGuide on Cedar-apple rust by Amy Timmerman.

4. A caller wanted to know if they can use Roundup (or other glyphosate product) in their garden to kill pampas grass? Can it be wiped onto the stalks of the plant and not harm the peonies or raspberries that are growing with the pampas grass?

A. Yes, it can be used among raspberries and peonies, but it needs to be carefully applied so that you don’t get it on the leaves or other plant parts of the desirable plants. Painting the glyphosate product onto the leaves of the pampas grass will work into killing the grass and will keep it from getting onto the desirable plants. Grass-b-gone may work for it in the peonies and can be sprayed directly over the peonies and cause no harm to them, however this product should not be used in crops that are used for food or feed.

5. A caller has a mum growing on the east side of their house and it didn’t come back. Why is that?

A. Some of our mums are not as hardy as others. This may have been one of the lesser hardy mum plants. This mum was also moved in the fall so it may not have been ready for the winter after being moved or it could be planted in a more exposed location. If there is no green showing in the plant at this point, I would assume it is dead and it is time to replant.

6. A walk-in clientele asked what the orange pods were on her cedar tree? She also wanted to know if she should remove the cedar tree or if she can treat it?

A. This is the gall of the cedar-apple rust disease. In the rainy portion of the spring these show up to release the spores of the disease to move to apple trees. This disease is not harmful to the cedar tree so no treatment and definitely no removal of the tree is necessary.

7. A caller wanted to know how to start a new plant from the family tree peony plant.

A. Prune off a branch of the peony and place it into rooting hormone and then into soil or into a pot of gravel that is kept moist to start roots. Once roots have begun, the plant can be planted into the ground.

8. This caller has a 12-15 year old apple tree that has bark on the trunk that is splitting on the southwest side of the trunk. What would cause this and is it harmful to the tree? He also has a tree that has holes in the trunk that are in a row and about the size of a pencil. What is this from?

A. The holes in a line on the trunk of a tree would be from a yellow-bellied sapsucker, a type of woodpecker. This is not harmful to the tree and has no management strategy. As for the bark splitting on the apple tree, this sounds like sunscald. This is a disease that occurs in the winter when the cells in the bark freeze and thaw quickly and bursts the cells causing the split. There is no control for this and the trees will typically live a long, happy life after this occurs but the scar will remain for the life of the tree.

9. The final caller of the day has a windbreak with evergreens that were planted 9 years ago and they are too close together. What is the recommended spacing for trees in a windbreak?

A. 14-16 feet between trees is the average spacing requirement at this point. You need to maintain that distance so that when the trees are full sized they don’t overlap each other too much which can cause more disease problems.

 

Time to Plant Vegetable Gardens

 

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My mom, Karen, and my niece, Mya.

Mother’s Day is coming and is a great time to honor our mothers. I get my interest in horticulture from my mother and so I like to buy her plants for mother’s day gifts. It is not only a holiday for our wonderful moms, but also a great time to get out and start planting our gardens.

Mother’s day is a great date to remember for good timing for planting warm season vegetables outdoors because we have to wait to plant these frost sensitive crops until after the last spring frost has occurred. Warm season crops include: tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, cucumbers, zucchini, garden beans, corn, watermelons, cantaloupe, squash, okra, and sweet potatoes.

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When purchasing plants, be sure to look at the root system. The roots are very important to a plant, it is what is used to absorb water and nutrients for growth and production. Pull the plant out of the container it is sold in and look at the root system. If there are a lot of roots along the outside edge of the soil ball for that particular plant, it may be rootbound. When a plant is rootbound, the roots become entangled because the plant has gotten too large for the container it is growing in. Rootbound plants should not be your first choice for planting because these plants often continue to grow with encircling roots and can cause damage and even death in the plants. If a rootbound plant is purchased, be sure to thoroughly break up the root ball to help the plant grow correctly for better health.

Make sure that the garden is located to get at least 6 hours of sunlight per day, but 8-10 hours of sunlight is best. Make sure that it is planted on level ground to ensure uniform watering. Mulch is necessary to a garden for moisture retention and weed reduction for less competition. Good mulches include wood chips, lawn clippings, and newspaper. Vegetable gardens need 1-inch of water per week. The best option for watering is a soaker hose or drip irrigation to reduce the spread of diseases from splashing water.

Vegetable gardens can be planted in containers or in raised beds. Containers that can be used include shoes, pallets, boxes, ceramic containers, whiskey barrels, tires, and cow tanks, in addition to containers bought at a garden center. Just make sure that your container has a drainage hole in the bottom. Container gardening is a great option for people with disabilities that restrict them from traditional gardening or for those living in apartments or rental properties where they have no lawn to dig up to plant into.

Raised beds are another alternative to traditional gardening for those with disabilities or those with poor soils. Raised beds are gardens built up higher than their surrounding soil level. Raised beds can be made without an enclosure as a berm or with an enclosure using items such as landscape timbers or old railroad ties, as long as creosote does not still ooze from them. Raised beds can typically be much larger than a container garden, but should be only as wide as your reach to the center for weeding purposes. This type of gardening would be a good choice for those facing problems with toxicity from black walnut trees.

Veggies collage

However you garden, just enjoy it and plant the crops that you and your family favor most for meals. If you have extra you can always take it to a local farmer’s market to make a few dollars on your extra produce. Gardening is a fun way to grow your own vegetables, to get some exercise and to enjoy nature all at the same time. This is a fun activity for kids of all ages.

Yard and Garden: April 15, 2016

Yard & Garden for blogThis is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for April 15, 2016. 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 August 5, 2016. 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: Jeff Culbertson, UNL Landscape Services

1. The first caller of the day has asparagus that she planted last Spring. What needs to be done with the plant now?

A. Light harvest can be done the second growing season and then full harvesting can begin the third season. Mulch it now to keep weeds down, herbicide sprays are not able to be safely used too close to growing asparagus. Cut the plants back in the fall after they have grown well all season. Fertilizer can be applied now or in the fall.

2. How do you control moles in the lawn? How do you control grubs in the lawn?

A. For mole control, see this guide from the Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management: http://icwdm.org/handbook/mammals/mam_d51.pdf Make sure that you have found an active run area before implementing any traps by stomping the mounds down for a couple of days prior to setting the trap. For grub control, the best option is to apply a product containing Imidacloprid around the third week of June.

3. This caller from the Southern part of the United States said that it is difficult to grow asparagus in the south. Is this due to the lack of dormancy in the south compared to what we have in Nebraska?

A. Yes, asparagus would need to have a rest period that occurs during our winter in Nebraska. However, the roots are also prone to root rot problems, so it might be that your soil could be too high of clay that isn’t allowing the asparagus roots to dry out enough.

4. Another caller has Iris that they have sprayed with Sevin for iris borers that are always a problem. Is this the best product and when should she be applying it? Also, she applied lime to the plants and now they are a lime green color instead of the deep green they are supposed to be. What is causing this discoloration?

A. Lime is used for acidic soils to raise the pH. In Nebraska, most of our soils are heavy clay and therefore already have a high pH. The addition of the lime to the soils in this case is causing chlorosis on these iris plants. It will work through over time, but for a couple of years the iris may look a little tired. The Iris borers have not shown up yet, but a treatment with an imidacloprid, permethrin, or bifenthrin soon or just as the larvae come out would be ideal for control.

5. This caller is wondering what the timing is for fertilizer with crabgrass pre-emergent herbicide? He is also wondering how to control bindweed in bromegrass?

A. Anytime in the next week or 2 would be ideal for fertilizer and crabgrass pre-emergent use this year. The soil temperatures are at 54.9 degrees Fahrenheit for the 7 day average. Crabgrass will germinate at temperatures between 55-60 degrees Fahrenheit, so you can begin applying your control methods anytime now until the end of the month for best control. The bindweed can be controlled with trimec  if used 2-3 times per summer. Keep the bindweed mowed to prevent flowering from occurring to reduce the amount of seed left in the grass.

6. A caller has cedar trees that were recently pruned from the bottom up. What would be a good grass to grow under these trees?

A. A fescue grass would grow well in this shady environment. Also, a nice groundcover such as purple leaf wintercreeper would be a good alternative to grass to reduce mowing under the tree and to grow better in the shade of the tree.

7. This caller from Hickman has a cherry tree. Every year they mow off many “little trees” that grow up and around the cherry tree. Is there anything else to do to reduce the occurrence of these trees?

A. Suckering occurs with many different tree species. These suckers may be growing off of the roots of the main tree so chemicals should not be used or else you may end up killing the desired tree as well. Cutting them off or mowing over them before they grow too large would be the best options for control.

8. This caller has fruit trees. He is wondering if a product called “fruit tree drench” for insects would be ok?

A. Not knowing the active ingredients in this product makes it hard to answer the question. Systemic insecticides are not usually safe for use in plants that are edible because a systemic insecticide will move throughout the entire plant, including into the edible parts. It is suggested to do more research on the safety of the product or to move to a spray type of insecticide that is not systemic to reduce the health hazards that may be a problem with systemic insecticides.

9. Another caller has an apple tree that is 7-8 years old. The last 3 years it has produced nice apples but they are rotten inside. Now there are not many apples that are not rotten on the inside. What can be done for this?

A. Sanitation is going to be key for controlling this disease, known as black rot of apples. A orchard fruit tree spray program can be used to minimize the damage as well. Pruning may need to be done to remove any branches that are dead or diseased.

10. A caller wanted to start a new strawberry patch. How far should the plants be spaced in the garden and what should be done to the soil for improvements?

A. Till in compost and topsoil for increased organic matter and reducing compaction in the soil. Space the plants 1 foot apart.

11. This caller has a maple tree that is not budding out and has not yet lost the leaves from last spring. Will it survive?

A. Some maples, such as the sugar maples, have not yet leafed out for this spring. Use the fingernail test to scratch the bark lightly on smaller branches to see if there is green underneath the bark. Green under the bark means the tree is still alive and waiting to come out of winter dormancy, brown under the bark means it died over the winter.

12. A caller wants to know about the “spray on grass”. Will it work for overseeding?

A. Should work ok, but check with the types of grass seed included in these cans. Many of these mixes have perennial rye which doesn’t last long in Nebraska environments. Also, check for the amount of weed seed found in the mixture.

13. Is it too late to thin Iris plants?

A. The best time to transplant and divide iris plants is in the fall. Use a garden fork to lift them from the ground. Look for borer holes, and then replant them making sure to not plant them too deeply.

14. What is the best advice for improving soils for growing watermelons?

A. Lighter soils are best for growing watermelons. Add compost to improve the fertility.

15. A gentleman has cherry trees, apricot trees, and peach trees. What type of mulch should be applied to help keep the trees watered?

A. Organic mulches should be used, such as the wood chips. They need to be applied at a uniform depth of 2-3 inches in a ring around the trees that is at least 2-3 feet wide around the tree. Water the trees for about 45 minutes every 10-14 days, more may be necessary during the hot, dry periods of the summer. Use a soil probe or long screwdriver to see if the trees need water. Push the probe into the soil up to 12-18 inches deep, if there is resistance any time while pushing into the ground, the trees need water.

grape hyacinth, ricky layson photography, bugwood

Grape Hyacinth photo from Ricky Layson, Ricky Layson Photography, Bugwood.org via Creative Commons License.

16. A caller has grape hyacinth growing in her lawn. What can be done for management?

A. Mow it off. This is a short lived annual plant that is close to the end of its lifetime for this year. There is no need to use chemicals to control this plant.

Trees!!

Arbor Day Blog Post 3

Trees are a wonderful addition to any landscape and have a great deal of benefits. I love trees, all trees! As an ISA Certified Arborist, I have a passion for planting trees and keeping our existing trees healthy. With Arbor Day coming up, it is a great time to begin planting trees.

2016-04-02 10.11.52Trees are vital to our lives. They provide us with oxygen to breathe, they increase the value of our homes, and they make us happy and healthy. There are many great trees to choose from that will do well in Nebraska. If possible, a native tree will do much better in our growing conditions because they are adapted to the weather conditions common in Nebraska. At the very least, the tree you choose must be suited to live in your hardiness zone, Southeast Nebraska is in zone 5b.

Good tree choices include:

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  • White pine
  • Norway spruce
  • Colorado Blue spruce
  • Black Hills Spruce
  • Ponderosa Pine
  • Jack Pine
  • Eastern Red Cedar
  • Concolor Fir
  • Douglas Fir
  • Baldcypress
  • Catalpa
  • Gingko
  • Cottonwood
  • River birch
  • Sycamore
  • Linden
  • Kentucky Coffeetree
  • Elm Hybrids
  • Maples
  • Oaks
  • Tree Lilac
  • Hackberry
  • Black walnut
  • Shagbark Hickory
  • Pecan
  • Chestnut
  • Sweetgum
  • Chanticleer or Cleveland Select Pear (not Bradford)
  • Serviceberry
  • Honeylocust (thornless)
  • Redbud
  • Black Locust
  • Pawpaw
  • Horsechestnut

When looking for trees for your landscape, remember to utilize diversity. Increasing species diversity prevents us from “putting all our eggs in one basket” and prohibits any single insect or disease from destroying a community’s entire forest resource. Pine wilt, Dutch elm disease and the approaching emerald ash borer (EAB) all reinforce the importance of species diversity. In fact, forestry experts recommend that no single species make up more than 10 percent of the entire community forest resource. This comes from the ReTree Nebraska page. ReTree Nebraska is an affiliate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln that focuses on “raising public awareness of the value of trees and reverse the decline and improve the sustainability of community trees and forests”. ReTree has been working on a list of great trees for Nebraska, each year adding more trees to that list. In 2016, they added American Linden to that list.

For care of any tree, water is a vital element to health and growth. Always water newly planted trees, shrubs, or any other plant immediately after planting. Trees should be watered every 10-14 days throughout the growing season and even some during the winter on warmer days. Each watering should give the tree 1-2 inches of water. The best way to determine if a tree needs to be watered is to insert a soil probe or 12-inch-long screwdriver into the ground around the tree. If it goes in easily there is no need to water, if it is difficult at any point then water is necessary for the tree.

tree mulchA mulch ring should be established and maintained around every tree. Mulch helps to keep the roots cool in the summer and regulated to a uniform temperature through the winter rather than the temperature fluctuations we often see during the winter months. Mulch will also help keep weeds down and reduce competition from those weeds for water and nutrients. Mulch also reduces damage to the trunk of trees from lawn mowers and trimmers. Finally, mulch is a way to hold moisture for use later by the tree. Mulch rings should be only 2-3 inches deep and in a circle around the tree at least 2-3 feet out. Organic mulches are a better choice than inorganic mulches. This mulch will need to be renewed every 1-2 years to maintain an effective layer because it will break down and improve the soil over the growing season.

 

Yard and Garden: April 8, 2016

Yard & Garden for blog

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for April 8, 2016. 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 August 5, 2016. 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 Hosts: John Fech and Jonathan Larson, Nebraska Extension Educators for Douglas/Sarpy Extension

1. This caller has rye grass that is turning yellowish-brown after it was already greened up this spring. What is causing this brown coloration?

A. Take a look at the roots of the turf in these brown areas, see if they have dried out. Also, rye grass is more susceptible to winterkill than tall fescue or Kentucky bluegrass is and with these inconsistent temperatures and fluctuations we have been seeing this year, there is more chance that this turf was damaged from the winter conditions. Overseed the lawn now with a better suited turfgrass for Nebraska and delay crabgrass control until Memorial Day.

2. A caller has seed potatoes that he will be planting. How long should the sprout be on those potatoes?

A. This is not an issue, there is no need to worry about the length of the sprout. The issue with planting potatoes is to make sure that there is at least 1-2 eyes on each potato you plant.

3. Would it work to put a patio heater near a pear tree to protect it from damage from the freeze that is predicted for tonight?

A. This would not be feasible to keep the entire tree warm enough to protect it from a freeze occurrence. There is also a fire hazard issue I would be concerned with. For trees that are already blooming, there is really no way to stop the damage to the fruit formation that will come from freezing temperatures overnight.

4. This caller planted his potatoes on St. Patrick’s Day, as the old saying goes. However, they still have not emerged this spring. Is this a concern?

A. This year, St. Patrick’s Day may have been too early. The soils are still quite cold and wet which may cause concern for these potatoes. We would suggest digging up one of the potatoes to see if it is still viable or if it has started to rot in the ground.

5. The previous caller also asked whether a barrier spray with sevin around the garden might help reduce cucumber beetles in the garden?

A. This could work to catch some of the overwintering insects as they move into the garden. It may help to reduce the overall population in the garden.

6. A caller was wondering about the fate of their perennials and flowering shrubs with this freeze warning for tonight, mainly peonies, iris, and daylilies?

A. These plants are more adapted to Nebraska climates so they should be fine. This weather may cause them to lose some buds or cause some black coloration to the blossoms or leaves, but for the most part these will survive. If it is a concern for you, you may want to cover these plants with a sheet or blanket overnight tonight, but remove this during the day.

7. This caller has grass that is green but has large patches of yellow or straw coloration throughout the yard. What is causing this and how can it be fixed?

A. This sounds like a warm-season, grassy weed called nimblewill. This should be controlled in your lawn as it will take over. It can be sprayed with a glyphosate product, such as roundup, and then overseeded. This would need to be done in the fall so that you can spray the nimblewill when it is green and the fall is a good time to overseed. You can also purchase a product called Tenacity to control the nimblewill and harm the grass. Or you can call a lawncare company to control it for you.

8. A caller has apple trees near a cedar tree windbreak. Last year, the apple trees got rust disease. How can this be controlled? Should the cedar trees be removed?

A. Don’t cut down the cedar trees. The spores for cedar-apple rust can spread up to 2 miles and in Nebraska it is very difficult to get that far away from a cedar tree. It would be best to start with newer varieties of the apple trees that are resistant to cedar-apple rust. You can also spray your trees for cedar-apple rust. There is a very good Nebguide on Cedar Apple rust from Amy (Ziems) Timmerman found at: http://extensionpublications.unl.edu/assets/pdf/g1907.pdf

Twig Girdler Insect

Damage from Twig Girdler

9. This caller has 2 Linden trees in his front yard. With the windy days lately, many small twigs have blown out of the trees and it looks like an insect cut the branch off. What is causing this and what can he do about it?

A. This would be a small insect called a twig girdler. They will chew around the branches and make it fall off from a smooth cut. There is no insecticide necessary for this insect, it is best to just collect the branches and dispose of them.

2016-04-08 11.03.23

Greenbriar plant

10. A walk-in client was wanting an identification on a very thorny, green stemmed plant they have found growing up their trees and throughout their property.

A. This is a plant called greenbriar. It can be cut off repeatedly or in areas that are not in flower or vegetable gardens a brush killer product can be used.

11. A gentleman has a 5 year old azalea plant that isn’t blooming, what can he do to improve the blooms?

A. This is a plant that is inconsistent in our environment, we are on the edge of their growing zone. They also like more acidic soils and more protection than what we can often give them. It would be best to move it to a location of morning sun and afternoon shade. You can also add some fertilizer for acid loving plants, similar to what would be applied to blueberries or hydrangeas to give them a blue flower.

12. This caller has a black walnut trees in an old windbreak. Can they grow pampas grass or trumpet vines in close proximity to these black walnuts without detrimental effects?

A. Grasses are not usually affected by the juglone that is produced by the black walnut trees to deter other plants from growing near them. This juglone is produced to naturally reduce competition from the black walnuts with other plants. Trumpet vine should be tolerant because they are a tough plant.