Yard and Garden: June 14, 2019

Yard & Garden blog, 2019

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for June 14, 2019. 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 2, 2019. 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: Dr. Paul Read, Professor of Viticulture, UNL

1. The first question of the show was what to do to get rid of borer bumble bees that are burrowing into the framing of a shed?

A. These are carpenter bees. Carpenter bees are a good pollinator insect. If they aren’t damaging the structure of a building, they can be left alone. However, if they are digging into framing for a shed or other building, filling the holes in with wood putty should work. Otherwise, you can spray a little sevin in the holes as well. You might also try putting up a Bee Hotel that may be more desirable to them than the structure of your building. View this article on Carpenter Bees for more information. View this NebGuide on Creating a Solitary Bee Hotel to learn how to build and place a bee hotel on your property.

He also wants to know what likes peas? His plants bloomed and then something ate the top third of the plant off. What would do that?

A. This could be deer, rabbits, or squirrels. These are all difficult wildlife to control. Fencing 2 feet high around them will keep rabbits out, the fencing needs to be 4 feet tall to keep deer out. Squirrels can climb the fence, so they are more difficult to manage in the garden. For more information on controlling squirrel damage, view this NebGuide on squirrels.

2. A caller has 4 peach trees, 2 have been producing fruit while 2 have not. Are there male and female peach trees? When will the other 2 produce?

A. Peaches are not male/female trees, they have perfect flowers and are self-pollinating. If they aren’t flowering they are not mature yet. Once they begin flowering they will produce fruit.

3. Are cedars asexual trees?

A. Cedars are dioecious, meaning that they have male and female flowers on separate trees. You can see the difference in the trees in the spring when one tree looks brown while the next tree is green.

4. This caller has roses with holes in the leaves. What is causing this?

A. This is due to rose slugs, which is the immature form of a sawfly. Rose slugs are not terribly damaging. They can cause some defoliation early in the summer months but only for a few weeks and the damage is minimal. Spraying for rose slugs could harm pollinators while the plants are blooming.

Roseslug Collage
The picture on the left shows the rose slug on the underside of the leaf. The picture on the right shows the damage from rose slugs.

5. A caller just planted some gooseberry bushes. What care should be given to them now? Do they need to be cut back annually?

A. Gooseberries require minimal care. Cut out any damaged canes each year, but otherwise, leave them alone.

6. This caller was wondering about a plant called ‘Thuja’. Will it grow ok here?

A. Yes, Thuja is the genus for arborvitae. Arborvitae will grow fine here, but it can be problematic in cold snap winter conditions. They get a lot of winterkill. A local nursery will have varieties that are better suited to our environment than those found in a mail-order catalog.

7. A caller has an American Elm that is dying. Last summer it lost all of it’s leaves early, now the tree looks dead on portions. What is wrong with it?

A. This could be from Dutch Elm Disease. There are still elms in the area that have made it through Dutch Elm Disease, but the disease will catch up with them and kill them. There is no cure or anything you can do to save a tree from Dutch Elm Disease. Remove the tree.

8. This caller has a 14 year old maple tree with branches hanging on the ground making it difficult to mow around. Can those branches be cut back now?

A. Yes, it would be fine to prune it back now. This time of year is beneficial because the wound will seal up quickly with the active growth of the tree. Be sure to make a good pruning cut. For tips on how to make a good pruning cut, view this article from Sarah Browning on Pruning Deciduous Trees.

9. A caller has a rose bush that bloomed good for a while, now it has started to die. The leaves and flowers are wilting. She waters 1 inch per day. What is wrong with them?

A. Watering the plants 1 inch of water a day would be excessive. It would be better to reduce that down to 1 inch of water per day, especially with all of the rain we have been seeing lately. Be sure to add a 2-3 inch layer of mulch to the plants. Don’t fertilize them right now, fertilizing a stressed plant can further stress it.

10. This caller is looking for a source for corn gluten meal for weed control.

A. Try looking at local nurseries like Campbell’s or Earl May. Be careful with corn gluten meal, if too much is applied it can kill desirable plants.

11. A caller is using rural water now instead of rural water that they had used before moving. The rural water smells like bleach, will it hurt the plants? Also, she adds manure every year to it, is the soil causing problems to the plants?

A. The water shouldn’t affect the plants. If there is a concern, you can get the water tested to ensure that it is safe for consumption. Also, be careful just adding manure every year. It would be a good idea to get the soil tested prior to just adding more nutrients. Nutrient levels that are a little high can be just as detrimental as low nutrient levels.

12. The last caller of the day started his tomato plants in the upside down planter. Should he put a cage around them?

A. That wouldn’t be necessary because the plants are going to naturally grow upward. Cages are used on the ground to keep our plants from falling over, these would be held up by the planter.

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