Yard and Garden: April 3, 2015

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This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for April 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: Mark Harrell from the Nebraska Forest Service

1. Caller had grown tomatoes in the past that were growing in his basement and they were not growing well, what can he do to improve the growing conditions?

A: Increase the light intensity on the plants. Use one warm and one cool bulb in a utility light and keep that light 6 inches from the plants as they grow and keep the light on them for 14-16 hours per day. Also try to increase fertilizer use by applying it to the plants according to label directions. With new seedlings, use only at a half strength for the first few days after a plant has germinated.

2. Caller had Honeyberry Bushes that were growing for 3 years and they didn’t seem to have grown very much over these years, what might be causing this lack in growth? They are planted where the soil was brought in to build a building on.

A: It seems like the soil may be constricting root growth and then in turn would be restricting above-ground growth. It might be best to try to replant these in a location with less compacted soil.

3. A caller has a Euonymus shrub that is growing along the east side of her home had a growth along the stems that is furry or hairy, what might this growth be?

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Euonymus sarcoxie plant with aerial roots photo from caller.

A: It seems that this is a species of Euonymus, called Euonymus sarcoxie, which is a variety that vines. This furry appearance is actually aerial roots that is normal for this and many vining species of plants.

4. A walk-in client wanted to know what they can do for preparing their garden to reduce the number of squash bugs that attack their zucchini plants in the summer?

A: Cleaning up the garden space in the fall will reduce the overwintering site for these insects to help reduce the number the following year. For this spring, it will be best to look for the rusty colored eggs on the underside of the leaves of your zucchini, cucumber, and pumpkin plants and remove those leaves and throw them into a bucket of soapy water. Also, use chemicals through the growing season. Carbaryl, Permethrin, and Bifenthrin can be used throughout the growing season, alternating between all of these chemcials. Read and follow all label instructions and be sure to watch the post-harvest interval (PHI) to know when you can harvest after applying these chemicals.

5. A caller wanted to know when the best time to spray for borers on oak trees would be?

A: The best time to treat for oak borers would be the end of May to the beginning of June and it should be repeated 2 weeks after the first application.

6. A caller wanted to know what would be the best control for weeds in an asparagus plot?

A: Mulch is a very good control for weeds in asparagus gardens. There is also a preen that can be used on vegetable gardens. Glyphosate products, such as roundup, can be used very early in the spring before asparagus starts to grow and late in the fall after the asparagus plants have been snapped off to a level below the soil line. Sarah Browning has a great article on many weed management tactics for asparagus at: http://lancaster.unl.edu/hort/articles/2011/AsparagusWeeds.shtml

7. A caller wanted to know when the best time for fruit tree pruning would be and when to start spraying the orchard fruit tree sprays?

A: Fruit tree pruning is best done in February and March of the year. You should start spraying the fruit tree sprays as the buds begin to swell and on a 10-14 day schedule for the remainder of the growing season. Do not spray the trees during the period when they are blooming and being pollinated or you may kill or harm the bees and other pollinators needed for the fruits to show up.

8. A caller was starting seedlings indoors and the leaves were beginning to turn yellow. Why are they turning yellow and what can be done to improve this situation?

A: Be sure to fertilize these seedlings regularly with a water soluble fertilizer, according to the instructions on the label. Make sure to keep the lights 6 inches from the plants as they grow and keep the light on them for 14-16 hours per day.

9. A caller had a tree that was cut down last year and has many ants throughout the tree stump, even still after the tree has been cut down. Why is this and what can she do to reduce the ants?

A: These are probably carpenter ants that tunnel through decaying or rotting wood. They were not causing any harm to the tree and they are not a concern for nearby plants. If control is desired, sprinkle Carbaryl dust on the stump of the tree.

10. This caller had 2 questions. She had an arborvitae that rapidly went from green to brown and dead. What would cause this? She also had some junipers that turned completely brown from the bottom up but the inside was still green. What would cause this?

A: The arborvitae most likely is having problems due to dry conditions and possibly winterkill. Make sure this tree has a good mulch ring, only 2-3 inches deep, and keep the soil around it moist, but not wet. The junipers also appear to have environmental problems that have caused this issue. There was a rapid drop in temperatures last fall and a warm and dry winter which could cause problems to this plant and many evergreens.

11. A caller had zoysia grass in her yard that has been declining over the years and is not as dominant in her yard now as it used to. How can she fix this problem?

A: She can try to plug her yard with more zoysia grass to get it established again in those other areas where the cool season grasses and other weeds have come in. She would need to do weed control in those areas before trying the plugging and during the establishment period of the zoysia grass to reduce competition. The plugs should be placed 6-12 inches apart and it should be done in the late spring to early summer to allow for best establishment.

12. This caller is looking to move a rose bush to save it from an area planned to be transitioned into a vegetable garden. What is the best way to do this?

A: This can still be done yet this spring. He can prune it prior to moving it so it is more of a manageable size. Take as much of the rootball as is possible. Keep the shrub well watered at its new location and don’t plant it any deeper than what it is growing at now.

13. A caller wanted to know when the best time to plant potatoes would be?

A: Anytime now would be a good time to plant potatoes. Plant potatoes when the soil temperatures are around 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

14. A caller wanted to know when the best time to prune a smokebush would be?

A: Late winter is the best time to prune a smokebush.

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