Yard and Garden: June 5, 2015

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This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for June 5, 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: Daryl Andersen, Water Resource Specialist for the Little Blue NRD

1. A gentleman called to ask if it is too late to plant tomatoes now?

A: This year has been cooler and wetter than normal years. Many of our summer vegetable crops that have been planted earlier have not grown much yet, so it would be fine to still plant a tomato plant this year. The best way to determine if a plant can still be planted late in the spring would be to count backward from the time of year when you would like to be harvesting, base it on the number of days until harvest that are listed on the packet or tag for plants. If you grow Better Boy Tomatoes, the plant says it takes 72 days to maturity, so if you want to harvest by July 25 you would need to plant by May 14. If you planted Better Boy Tomatoes today that would be ready for harvest by August 16th. This gives you plenty of harvest time prior to frost.

2. A caller has a concrete birdbath that gets algae growth in it. How can this be cleaned and not harm the birds?

A: A birdbath should be cleaned every couple of days to prevent algae growth and to prevent mosquitoes from breeding in it. Never use chemicals to control algae. The best way to clean it would be to scrub it out with a brush. If necessary a bleach solution of 9 parts water to 1 part bleach can be used to clean the birdbath but it should be thoroughly rinsed afterward. There is a nice article: Water is for the Birds from Lancaster County Extension.

3. A caller wanted to know when the best time is to transplant peonies?

A: The best time to transplant peonies is in the fall before you cut them back for the winter. Make sure that you get them replanted at the same level they are currently planted at. If they are planted too deeply, they will not bloom.

4. A gentleman called with a question regarding water sensors for pivots, is crop metrics a good program compared to the program the NRD uses?

A: Both are equally good choices for water sensors. Either way, a water sensor is better than not having water sensors with the pivot. Crop metrics do not require the user to go into the field to check the status whereas other programs will require you to go into the field to see results of the sensors. Crop metrics will send information to your cell phone. You just need to make the choice that best works for you and your crops.

5. A lady called and wanted to know if her peach tree has no fruit coming on it, due to a late frost damaging the blossoms, can she prune it now?

A: It is best to wait until late February to early March for pruning on a fruit tree. Pruning it now can cause the tree to be more vulnerable to insect and disease problems that it may not face if it is pruned at the right time of the year.

6. A lady called wondering why her grape vine that is planted in compost flowers but does not produce fruit.

A: This area may be too high in nitrogen to produce fruit. Nitrogen is found in high amounts in compost and it is a fertilizer that helps the leafy area on plants. If too much nitrogen is present in the soil, the plant will push lush, green growth and no or low fruits. I would suggest transplanting the grape plant to an area that is lower in Nitrogen.

7. A caller has bittersweet vine that is not growing on a trellis and it is being damaged by the rabbits. How can she prevent the rabbit damage?

A: Place a trellis near the bittersweet vine to grow onto to keep it up off of the ground. The best rabbit control would be to put up a fence at least 2 feet tall around the base of the plant.

8. How late can green beans be planted yet this spring?

A: There is still time to get them planted yet this spring, just get them in as soon as possible. Refer to question 1 for timing of planting.

9. A caller has iris plants that have grass growing in them. What can be done to kill the grass and not the iris?

A: Grass-B-Gone and other products that contain fluazifop for the active ingredient.

10. The same caller has clover in her flower beds. How can those be controlled?

A: 2,4-D can be painted onto the leaves carefully in the fall when the weather is predicted to stay below 80 degrees Fahrenheit for 3 days following sprays. Be sure to not get the chemical onto the leaves of the desired plants.

11. A caller wanted to know if the NRD builds a pond on private land, does that pond have to be open to the public for fishing?

A: It depends on the funding options used to build the pond, but usually it does not have to be open to the public because it is on private land.

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