This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for June 3, 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: Sarah Browning, Lancaster County Extension
1. The first caller of the day has strawberries that are all developing but they are rotten fruits. What would cause this and can it be fixed?
A. This is probably due to a fruit rot disease that is caused by a fungus due to the high rains this year. At this point in the season, fungicides will not help and you will not get much of a crop from these plants. If this is a problem seen every year, a liquid copper fungicide can be applied next year. You should start spraying the plants at petal fall right after the blooms finish next season. To help with this disease, also use a mulch around the plants and avoid overhead irrigation.
2. A caller wanted to know if wildflowers do better where grass doesn’t grow very well? Can he still plant wildflowers now?
A. Wildflowers don’t really do better where grass won’t grow, but the area to plant wildflowers does need to be prepared for the wildflowers. It is best to clean up the area with a glyphosate product, such as Roundup, then till the area up and seed the wildflowers. This can still be done now, it will be fine through most of the spring and fall months. Unless you are planting annual wildflowers, which will reseed for each year, you will not get many blooms this growing season. It will take a few years to get the wildflowers going well and weed control will be necessary. If you don’t want any grasses growing in the wildflower patch, you can use grass herbicides and not harm the wildflowers.
3. This caller has pansies that are being eaten, the small white dots are on the underside of the leaves. What would this be and how can they be controlled?
A. This could be aphids which can be controlled with eight, bifenthrin, or malathion. However, pansies are nearing the end of their life as they are a cool season plant. So you could just remove the pansies and plant something else to reduce the problem and not have to use pesticides.
4. A caller has been dealing with high populations of grasshoppers recently. They are feeding heavily on his potatoes. What can be done to control them?
A. In the potatoes, you will need to use an insecticide labeled for use in a vegetable garden such as bifenthrin, sevin, or eight. It would also be helpful to keep the grass mowed around the garden and to treat it with some of these insecticides. Also, grasshoppers are often found in roadsides, so be sure to spray these areas as well to help reduce the overall population.
5. When can peonies and iris be cut back?
A. You can cut off the flower stalks on both of these plants as soon as they are done blooming. However, you need to wait until they die back in the fall before removing any leaves from the plant.
6. This caller has a lawn with patches of darkened areas throughout it. What would cause this?
A. Walk through the dark areas to see if the blades pop back up. If the blades stay down after they are walked on and you can see you footprints, it is due to drought stress and the lawn needs to be watered. Also, look closely at the leaf blades to see if there are small, black/gray structures like tiny balls. This would be slime mold which is also showing up in the lawns now. Slime molds are not a serious problem to the lawn.
7. This caller has a weeping willow. He wants to know if he can prune the branches up so he can mow underneath it?
A. Pruning for a weeping willow is best done in the fall but it can be done now. You can limb it up and shorten some of the branches to make it more accessible for mowing. However, don’t remove more than 1/3 of the plant in one growing season.
8. A caller wanted to know about mosquito control. He had found a recipe online that was with household items and it claims to control mosquitoes for 80 days. Will this work?
A. No. The best control for mosquito control outdoors only last for a few days. It is best, if you are having an outdoor BBQ, to spray the lawn and shrubs around the lawn up to 2 days prior to the event for management of mosquitoes. You can use sevin or eight or malathion or bifenthrin for control. Be sure to use bugspray containing DEET while outdoors. Also, make sure you have no standing water in your lawn to reduce the population of mosquitoes.
9. This caller has roses that have leaves that look shredded or with many holes in them. What can be sprayed on the roses to help them with this problem?
A. This was brought into the extension office later for identification. It was rose slugs. These are small, translucent, green caterpillars with a brown head found on the underside of the leaves. Rose slugs are actually the immature of a sawfly and not a slug at all. They are mostly damaging to the aesthetics of the plant and are not that harmful but they can be treated with sevin dust on the underside of the leaves if they are heavily damaging the plant. Be careful to not get the sevin on the flowers to not harm bees.
10. What digs holes 6-7″ deep straight down into the mulch around trees?
A. This could be either squirrels or skunks or possums that would be digging for insects. Clean up around the tree to help deter the animals.
11. The final caller of the day has a cedar windbreak with a lot of scrub trees growing among the cedars. How can those be controlled?
A. It is best to just cut off the scrub trees and do a stump treatment with a concentrated roundup product. Spraying in the windbreak can damage the cedar trees.