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 per 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.
5. 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.