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
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.
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.