Yard and Garden: April 13, 2018

Y&G Blog Photo, 2018

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for April 13, 2018. 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 3, 2018. 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: Kyle Broderick, Coordinator of the Plant & Pest Diagnostic Clinic at UNL

1.The first caller of the show wants to know when is the time to trim roses?

A. Anytime now would be good. When the show aired, snow was predicted for over the weekend, so it is advised to wait until the snow has melted before pruning the roses to avoid damage from cold weather.

This caller also has moles, how do they get rid of them in the yard?

A. Harpoon traps work best for moles. To help the trap work better, stomp down a run 2-3 times before placing the trap in the run. This shows that it is an active run and it will lead the mole to continue to pop the soil back up after you knock it down. For more information, visit the UNL Wildlife site and choose the NebGuide on Moles

2. How do you kill grass growing in peony plants

A. Fluazifop is the active ingredient found in Grass-B-Gon products. This will kill grasses and not harm ornamental plants. It can be sprayed right over peonies and iris’ and other ornamental plants. Be sure to not spray your turf or ornamental grasses with this product as it will kill any grass it contacts.

3. A woman has a substance on her artificial turf. Is it mold or moss?

A. It would be moss if it has a green color, but if it is more of a black color, it would be mold. Dry out the area to reduce the problem. You can also clean the artificial turf with a vinegar solution.

4. A caller has an apricot tree with blossoms that are starting to show color. Is there anything that can be applied to protect it from the frost, snow, and cold temperatures in the forecast for the weekend?

A. There are no sprays to protect the fruit tree from cold damage. Watering the tree prior to the cold weather can help protect it because trees use moisture to protect itself in cold weather. This is the reason that peaches and apricots have years of low production, they tend to bloom earlier than the frost free date which will cause cold temperatures to damage the developing flower buds.

This caller also wants to know if they should spray their trees for pests now or if they should apply preen in their gardens?

A. No on both of these questions. There is snow and rain in the forecast which will wash the pesticides off the trees. It is too early to use preen because it stops the germination of annual plants. Winter annual plants emerged last fall and summer annual plants won’t germinate until the soil temperatures have warmed up more. Applying preen too early in the season will cause it to break down sooner in the summer allowing later germinating summer annual plants to emerge once the preen is gone for the year. It is best to wait until soil temperatures have warmed up closer to when the seeds will germinate.

Ant mounds from YandG listener

Larger Yellow Ant Mounds

5. This walk-in listener has mounds that developed in their pasture area after they burned it this spring. What are the mounds from?

A. These mounds developed from ants. Upon closer inspection, Jim Kalisch from the UNL Entomology department, has determined the ants are Larger Yellow Ants. The mounds will persist as long as the land is not tilled. The ants favor building their nests in clumps of bunchgrass, as it provides stability and protection, and the ants tend root aphids on the bunchgrass roots underground. If the mounds are not desired, tilling the ground will reduce the mounds.

6. Can preen be used on asparagus before it emerges?

A. Yes, preen only stops the germination of annual seeds. Asparagus is a perennial plant coming back from the roots, so it will not be inhibited from growth if the preen is applied before it comes up. Make sure you are using the preen that is labeled for use in asparagus, not the general preen that is used in ornamental plantings.

7. A caller has grubs in his vegetable garden space. What should be done about that?

A. A few grubs in the garden won’t be problematic. Mostly, grubs are only damaging to potatoes and not our other vegetable plants. If the population is high enough and damage is occurring, the vegetable garden would need to be moved for a year to treat with chemicals that are not labeled for use in a vegetable garden. There are no products available to treat grubs that are labeled for use in vegetable gardens safely.

8. This caller is taking care of a planting of hostas for the first time. What does he need to do to clean up the space?

A. Hostas die back to the ground every year, so once the weather is a little warmer more regularly, these plants can be cut off at the ground level to remove all of the dead leaves and plant material from last year. Make sure to refresh the mulch to 2-3 inches deep with new organic mulch. If the plants are too big, they can be divided and replanted in other locations. Depending on the size of the plant it can be divided into 2, 3, or 4 parts to replant in other locations or to share with friends. To divide the plants, dig them up and use a spade to cut it into pieces that are then replanted.

9. A caller has white pine trees that were transplanted last year that are now turning brown on the ends of the branches. What is causing this?

A. This could be due to a combination of transplant shock and winter injury. Fall watering will help protect newly planted trees from winter injury. Water these trees well throughout the season and they should improve over time.

10. This caller has an angel wing begonia that is overwintered indoors each year. Can it be placed outside during the summer months?

A. Tropical-type plants, such as this begonia, will not take temperatures below 50 degrees F, but they can live through our summer months. Once the temperatures are consistently in the 50’s and warmer, the potted plant can be placed outside. To prevent breakage of the branches, it would be best to place the planter in a location that is protected from high winds. Next fall, before the temperatures move too cold at night, move the plant back indoors to keep it alive through the winter. Spray the plant with an insecticide before bringing indoors to keep insect pests outside instead of bringing them indoors with the plant.

11. A caller has scrub elm trees that have started growing up in the asparagus patch. What can be done to kill the elm trees?

A. Right after cutting the elm off, paint the stump with a straight 2,4-D product. Don’t use tordon or triclopyr products as these can get into the roots of the asparagus, killing it. Treat the stumps early in the season before temperatures reach 80 degrees F to avoid volatization of the product and causing possible harm to the asparagus.

12. This caller has gnats from houseplants in the office. How can they control them?

A. These are likely fungus gnats from the houseplants. If you know when the gnats first appeared and you can link that to the appearance of a new houseplant, remove that houseplant to remove the majority of the gnats. Houseplant insecticide sprays can also be used. Repotting the plants, removing the majority of the soil from the roots will also help.

13. The last caller of the day wants to know how to control grass in a well-established asparagus patch?

A. You can spray the bed with glyphosate (Roundup) before the asparagus has emerged and no green from asparagus is present, but the grass is green. It would also be best to apply mulch around the plants to reduce new weeds from emerging.

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Plant a Tree for Arbor Day

Plant a Tree blog, 2018

One of my favorite holidays is coming up, Arbor Day. As a tree enthusiast, I appreciate any holiday that urges people to plant trees. Arbor Day is always celebrated on the last Friday of April in Nebraska, this year that is April 27th. This holiday is not the same throughout the United States, it is moved around for other states to be in the best planting time for the year.

Deciding what tree to plant is very important and sometimes difficult. Diversity is key when choosing your tree. The general rule is to plant no more than 10% of a tree species, no more than 20% of a tree genus, and no more than 30% of a tree family in a respective urban area. Look around at what types of trees you have and what types of trees your neighbors have before deciding on a new tree, try to avoid everyone planting the same few trees throughout the neighborhood. Look for some unique, underutilized trees such as gingko, Kentucky coffeetree, Ohio buckeye, hornbeam, paw paw, sweetgum, or tulip tree for deciduous trees that do well in southeast Nebraska.

The most important factor to keep in mind when planting trees is how to plant a tree correctly to ensure healthy growth. First of all, remove all of the burlap and any other materials from the root ball before planting. Also remove any tags, twine, or wire from the tree. Remember to remove all the grass and weeds that are within the area you will be planting the tree. Dig a hole that is 2-3 times wider and no deeper than the root ball and loosen up the sides of the hole. Plant the tree so that root flare is at the soil surface. Do not amend the soil that is in the hole, backfill with the existing soil. Make sure that the entire root ball is covered with soil to avoid drying out.

Keep newly planted trees well-watered. 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.

img_0174.jpg

Tree Damaged from Lawn mower blight

A 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. 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, organic 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 year to maintain an effective layer because it will break down over the growing season which will improve the soil.

Tree Planting, 2017 (3)Staking a tree is not a mandatory practice. If you do have to stake the tree due to high winds, make sure that the tree has plenty of movement to allow it to build stronger roots. Also be sure that the staking material is removed after the first year to avoid the tree being damaged by the staking materials.

Yard and Garden: April 6, 2018

Y&G Blog Photo, 2018

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for April 6, 2018. 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 3, 2018. 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: Jonathan Larson, Douglas/Sarpy County Extension Educator in Entomology and Jody Green, Lancaster County Extension Educator in Entomology

1.The first caller of the show has little blue flowers in her lawn. How can she get rid of them?

A. This is likely speedwell, it is a winter annual plant so it blooms very early in the spring then dies with warmer weather. At this point, since it is already blooming, just leave it as it will die soon and the seed is already set for next year. Spray it with a 2,4-D product late next fall after it has germinated or use a pre-emergent herbicide in the earlier fall before it germinates.

2. What is the correct mowing height?

A. 2.5-3.5 inches is the recommended mowing height for cool season turf in Nebraska. Too low will lead to more weed pressure and insect and disease issues because the turf cannot compete with these pests when it is too short. Make sure you mow enough to mow off only 1/3 of the turf blade each time you mow to avoid scalping the turf.

3. A caller asked if the treatments for Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) were killing the trees?

A. The most effective treatment methods for EAB are trunk injections, which can harm the tree. However, the tree can take about 10 treatments before stressing the tree to the point of death. If you are using Emamectin benzoate as the trunk injection chemical, the tree will only need to be treated every 2-3 years, giving it 20-30 years of injections before harm occurs. For the first few years of treatments, you may be able to use a soil drench rather than a trunk injection, again adding more time with your tree. A soil drench will work, but once the tree grows to 15-20 Diameter, the soil drench is not as effective. In the 20-30 years of treatments, you can get a very good start on a new tree nearby the ash tree to have a well-established tree growing in it’s place for when the ash tree needs to be removed.

Termites

Termites, Photo from the University of Nebraska Department of Entomology

4. Does wood mulch attract termites?

A. If the wood mulch is piled up so high to where the mulch is touching wood siding, it can be a pathway for the termites to enter the home. However, mulch is recommended to only be 2-3 inches deep and most concrete foundations will go higher than that. Also, if you have had termites in the past, you should be working with a pest control company for termite control and the chemicals will manage the termites from the mulch. You will not get termites from mulch, the mulch is cut up too small and termites will dry out in that condition, so that cannot happen.

5. This caller is replanting a windbreak. They have begun with an outside row of cedars and would like to know what to plant on the interior rows?

A. An interior row with multiple types of trees is best. Diversity will help your windbreak survive better if another disease or insect problem comes in to kill evergreen trees like pine wilt has. Good evergreen choices include blue spruce, black hills spruce, concolor fir, Douglas fir, ponderosa pine, white pine, and Norway spruce. You can even add in deciduous trees like oaks or maples to fill in as well.

6. A caller wants to know how to control poison hemlock on the edge of his field?

A. 2,4-D and Dicamba in a mix. This mixture is found in the product called Trimec as well as others. It is best to treat the poison hemlock while it is in the rosette stage, so early spring or fall. Do not allow cattle access to the dry matter after this has been sprayed.

7. This caller wants to know if fertilizer is needed to trees as they plant a new windbreak?

A. Fertilizer is not necessary for trees planted in Nebraska. Our soils typically have plenty of nutrients available for use by the trees. It wouldn’t hurt to add fertilizer at planting, but it isn’t necessary.

8. The final caller of the day wants to know how to plant a new asparagus patch?

A. Asparagus is a great plant for a home garden. Many people want to get plant starts from a neighbor to start their patch, but it is best to just purchase a new set of crowns. When planting asparagus crowns, dig a trench 8-12 inches deep and bury the crowns only under 2 inches of soil. As the plants poke up through the soil, add more soil until the soil is level. Avoid harvesting asparagus until the third season of growth to allow the crowns enough time for root production. For weed control, mulch is best, such as wood chips or grass clippings. Preen that is labeled for use around asparagus can be used in the spring to prevent annual weeds from germinating. In late May to early June, when finished harvesting asparagus for the year, you can break all the spears off below ground, leaving no green growth above ground, and spray glyphosate or Roundup over the bed to reduce weeds. After this, allow the plants to grow back up and produce ferns which will produce seed and help your patch grow. You can cut it back in the fall or in the spring before new growth begins.

Yard and Garden: March 30, 2018

Y&G Blog Photo, 2018

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for March 30, 2018. 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 3, 2018. 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: Justin Evertson, Green Infrastructure Coordinator, Nebraska Forest Service

1.The first caller of the year has brown rot in her apricot and cherry trees. How can this be managed this spring?

A. Brown rot is a fungus that affects the fruit of stone fruit trees. Spraying with Captan or Chlorothalonil products or using an Orchard Fruit Tree Spray throughout the growing season will reduce the disease. Avoid spraying during bloom if using a combination spray that contains an insecticide to avoid damage to pollinating insects. For more information on spraying and timing, visit food.unl.edu/local-food-production and click on ‘Managing Pests in Home Fruit Plantings

2. A caller has been advised to use a type of fescue called ‘Water Saver Fescue’ because it is more drought tolerant. Would this be a good turf choice?

A. This variety is a turf-type tall fescue variety that is an RTF variety. The RTF is a new type of tall fescue that forms rhizomes, allowing it to fill in a yard rather than just form clumps like the traditional tall fescue. Turf-type tall fescues are preferred to other types of grasses because they do well in our environment and are more drought tolerant than other turf species, such as Kentucky Bluegrass. This wouldn’t be any more drought tolerant than any other turf-type tall fescue species, but it would be drought tolerant.

3. When should a person fertilize their lawn?

A. If using the maximum fertilizer applications for a year, we recommend fertilizing with the holidays: Arbor Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day, and Halloween. It is not necessary to do all of these fertilizer applications. If you leave the grass clippings on your lawn, that replaces one fertilizer application over the course of a growing season. If you only apply fertilizer one time perĀ  year, the best time is at Halloween. If you would like to apply 2 applications per year, the other time would be to add an application on Arbor Day.

4. This caller wants to know what is best to use in a vegetable garden to keep the weeds down?

A. In a home vegetable garden, mulch is going to be best for weed control. There are a lot of mulch products that can be used in the garden to reduce weeds including: wood chips, grass clippings (that have not been treated with any pesticides), newspaper, leaves, and cardboard.

green-asparagus-pixabay5. A caller wants to plant a new asparagus bed. How should she go about planting and caring for her asparagus?

A. Asparagus is a great plant for a home garden. Many people want to get plant starts from a neighbor to start their patch, but it is best to just purchase a new set of crowns. When planting asparagus crowns, dig a trench 8-12 inches deep and bury the crowns only under 2 inches of soil. As the plants poke up through the soil, add more soil until the soil is level. Avoid harvesting asparagus until the third season of growth to allow the crowns enough time for root production. For weed control, mulch is best, the same mulches used on a vegetable garden work great for asparagus beds. Preen that is labeled for use around asparagus can be used in the spring to prevent annual weeds from germinating. In late May to early June, when finished harvesting asparagus for the year, you can break all the spears off below ground, leaving no green growth above ground, and spray glyphosate over the bed to reduce weeds.

6. This caller has Colorado Spruce trees with needles at the bottom of the tree that are turning brown. What is wrong with the tree and how can it be fixed?

A. This is likely due to needle cast disease. You can spray the tree for needle cast in May using a liquid copper fungicide. For more information, view this Nebraska Forest Service publication on Diseases of Evergreen Trees.

7. When is a good time to transplant Iris and Peonies?

A. The best time is in the fall, but it can be done now. They may not bloom this spring if you move them now, but will bloom again next year. Be sure to get the peony planted at the same depth it is now or it won’t bloom.

8. A caller has a vine growing on the trees they thought was poison oak. How can it be controlled?

A. It is likely that this is woodbine or Virginia creeper. It doesn’t all have to be killed off, it makes a great groundcover. Cut off the parts growing up the tree and leave the rest for a groundcover. If you need to manage it cut it off and treat with glyphosate or triclopyr or just hand pull.

9. The final caller of the day has recently read that trees can “communicate” to other trees if they are attacked by a pest to help the other tree prepare to defend themselves from the pest problem. Is there any research on this?

A. There is a theory that trees communicate. A German Forester is looking into this idea further. Here is the Article from the Smithsonian Magazine regarding this topic and the research on how trees communicate.