Yard and Garden: August 2, 2019

Yard & Garden blog, 2019

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for August 2, 2019. Yard and Garden Live is a call-in radio show I do on KUTT 99.5 FM from 10-11:30 am. 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.

Guest Host: Dennis Ferraro, Extension Wildlife Specialist, UNL

1. The first question of the show was about pole green beans. They were planted in May and have been blooming but have not produced any beans yet. What is wrong with them?

A. This is likely due to the abnormal weather pattern we have seen this spring and summer. Make sure that the plants are mulched and watered evenly, as much as you can. Also, the warmer night temperatures will keep the beans from developing.

2. A caller has lilacs that are 2 feet tall. They have rust spots on the leaves. What is causing this?

A. This is likely due to a fungal disease. Make sure you are watering from the base of the plant and keep mulch around the plants. Fungicides can be used but if it is just on a few leaves, just pull those off and destroy them. It also is a little late to spray fungicides on the plants this year. At the end of the year clean up all the fallen leaves from around the plant to prevent re-infection next year.

3. This caller has turf that continually gets brown patch every year, it is only getting one hour of sunlight per day. What can be done to help reduce this problem?

A. Unfortunately, the turf isn’t growing well in this location. Turf is a full sun plant and needs at least 6-8 hours of full sun per day, not dappled light. In this location the turf will always have problems. It might be a good time to switch to another plant underneath the trees. Shade perennials or groundcovers could replace the turf and they would grow much better there. Sedges are another good choice that look very similar to the lawn but would tolerate the shade better.

4. What can be used for weeds in a driveway?

A. Roundup 365 would be a good option for this. It contains glyphosate as well as imazapic which lasts longer than the glyphosate alone. On the label it states to only apply once a year and to “spray until THOROUGHLY WET”, so for best results spray to this extent. Soil sterilants aren’t recommended because they often run off into adjacent plant material such as grass and kills it. You could also use pre-emergent herbicides in the spring to help with annual weeds. Always read and follow the label when using pesticides.

5. A caller has bagworms in his windbreak. What can be done for bagworms now?

A. It may be a little late in the year to treat chemically for bagworms. Once they get much larger than 1/2″ in length, their feeding is reduced and sprays are not as effective. Also, the majority of their damage is done for the year. If you decide not to spray, it would help to go out and pick as many of the bags off as you can and destroy them.

Sandbur, Rebekah D. Wallace, Univ of GA, Bugwood
Sandbur, Photo courtesy of Rebekah D. Wallace, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org

6. How do you control sandburs?

A. Sandburs are an annual grass, so using crabgrass pre-emergent herbicides in the spring will also kill germinating sandbur seeds. Also, sandburs are easily out-competed, so if you can get something else to grow in the area, the sandbur population will be reduced.

7. This caller has Japanese beetles on Linden trees. What can be done to control them? Will the trees die from this?

A. The trees should be fine next year and will leaf out fine. You can spray the trees now with Sevin or chlorothalonil. Next year, you can spray with these products after the bloom period or when the beetles first appear. Do NOT use a systemic insecticide on linden trees due to the high amount of pollinators that are found on lindens.

8. A caller has a problem with squirrels eating his sweet corn. What can be done to stop the squirrels?

A. For a small plot of corn, you can drape bird netting over the corn and use fishing weights to hold it down. From Control of Tree Squirrel Damage NebGuide “Wire mesh fences (no larger than ½-inch weave) topped with electrified wire or mesh enclosures may be practical for keeping squirrels out of small areas. Electrified wires are not recommended for use where there are children or pets. Little else can be done with squirrels in larger areas, other than re-moving the offending squirrels by cage trapping or shooting where safe and legal.”

9. This caller has an apple tree that is covered with Japanese Beetles. She sprayed Tempo on the tree, can she still use the apples?

A. No, fruit trees are not listed on the label. When using pesticides be sure that the plant you are spraying the pesticide on is on the label. With fruits and vegetables, watch the PHI (pre-harvest interval) to know how long to wait between application and harvest.

10. A caller has pin oaks and something seems to be eating the leaves. The leaves are dying and this is a young tree and he is trying to avoid using pesticides. What can be done?

A. This damage could be from grasshoppers or beetles, most of the damage seems to be happening at night so it could be chaffers that are active at night. Using a neem oil or insecticidal soap would work for these pests as an organic option.

11. This caller is having troubles with a groundhog. How can manage the groundhog?

A. Trapping works best for groundhogs. Put burlap over the cage because groundhogs are spooked easily. Use a half an apple or half an ear of corn for bait. Wire the cage open for a few days to allow the groundhog to take the bait and become more relaxed with the trap. Then, after a few days set the trap without wiring it open. Once you catch the groundhog, you cannot translocate it. It must be euthanized with a firearm if legal where you are or take it to animal control. Be sure to check local laws before controlling this groundhog. For more information, visit wildlife.unl.edu

12. A caller is trying to control his bagworms, what chemical can he use for bagworm control?

A. Tempo is a great choice, but sevin or any other general insecticide will work. It may be a little late in the year to treat chemically for bagworms. Once they get much larger than 1/2″ in length, their feeding is reduced and sprays are not as effective. Also, the majority of their damage is done for the year. If you are planning on still spraying, get it done very soon.

13. The last caller of the year called to say “Thank You!” He removed brome grass competition from around his trees, thanks to advice from the show, and now his trees are growing much better.

*Disclaimer ­- Reference to any specific brand named product does not constitute endorsement, recommendation, favoring or implied criticism if similar products are not mentioned by Nebraska Extension in Gage County.  Identifying specific pesticides are for the convenience of the reader and are generally most commonly available.  Always read and follow the pesticide label.

Yard and Garden: July 5, 2019

Yard & Garden blog, 2019

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for July 5, 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: Laurie Stepanek, Forest Health Management Specialist from the Nebraska Forest Service

1. The first question of the show was curious about bagworms. He needs to spray the trees in his backyard but he has a coy pond nearby. Will the sprays harm the fish in the pond?

A. It would be best to use Bt on the bagworms here to ensure that if sprays get into the pond it will not harm the fish. Bt is a product that affects only butterflies and moths and won’t harm other insects or wildlife. Bt works best on young, newly emerged bagworms, but there would still be time for that product this year.

Bagworm4
Bagworm

2. A caller has willow trees that are growing on a dam for a pond. How can they be controlled?

A. Rodeo or Garlon 3A are the 2 products listed for managing woody  plants or annual and perennial weeds in or around water in the Weed Management Guide from Nebraska Extension.

3. This caller has garden plants that were chewed off by rabbits. Will these plants regrow or are they dead?

A. If there are still a few leaves left on the plant they might still regrow. However, if there is really only a stem and a tiny leaf or two, they likely won’t regrow. It is getting quite late for replanting, so it might be best to just wait and see how they regrow.

4. A caller has an apple tree that broke off at a split in the tree in a storm. Now there is a hole in the tree. What can be sprayed or put into that hole to prevent further damage?

A. It is not recommended to fill holes in the tree because that can be harmful when the tree does need to be removed. It also will not stop decay that is occurring in the tree. Decay is a fungus and it will proceed through the tree even around a fill agent. If the decay is a problem in the tree, the tree may need to be removed before it becomes a hazard.

This caller also has a maple with dead branches in the top of the canopy. What would cause that?

A. Top dieback could come from a number of factors. It could be from a canker disease that occurs on stressed trees. Canker diseases will kill branches from the point of infection outward on the branch. The only cure for a canker would be to cut out the branch below the canker. Top dieback could also be from borers or a root issue. Borers come into a stressed tree and will cause decreased flow of water and nutrients through the tree causing the top of the branches to die. If more soil is added to roots, causing decreased airflow to the roots, top dieback can occur. Root issues such as damage to the roots or a girdled root can also cause top dieback in the tree. Root issues cannot be fixed. If you notice borer holes, you can use a systemic insecticide containing Imidacloprid, such as Merit.

5. A walk-in listener wants help with identification of a weedy grass species that he is having trouble controlling.

A. This looks to be annual bluegrass, which can be difficult to control. Use pre-emergent herbicides such as Drive or Pendulum in September or use Tenacity as a post-emergent herbicide in the spring or summer. For more information, view this Turf iNfo on Annual Bluegrass Control.

6. This caller has maple trees that have limbs reaching out over his house, some of the limbs are dead. When and how far should these limbs be pruned to ensure they don’t fall on the house and cause problems?

A. It would be best to find a Certified Arborist to do this to ensure it is done correctly and to avoid damage to the house. Remove all dead branches. When shortening branches, cut back to a side branch that is at least 1/2 the size of the limb you are removing. Anytime would be ok, but the best time for a maple is later in the spring, to avoid heavy sap flow if pruned in the early spring or late winter.

7. A caller accidentally spilled hydraulic oil from his tractor onto his lawn. There is now a dead area in the soil. What is a quicker way to get grass growing back there other than to wait?

A. It might help to dig out the soil in that area and replace it with new topsoil. Dig out around the area of dead grass and dig 4-6 inches deep. It would be best to just wait until early September to do this so that it can be reseeded right away.

8. This caller wants to use Roundup around the base of fruit trees to kill grass. Should regular Roundup be used or could Extended Control Roundup be used?

A. Use basic Roundup that only contains glyphosate in this location. The Extended Control Roundup contains Imazapic for longer control and shouldn’t be used around fruits and vegetables. The label for the Extended Control Roundup states ‘Do not use for vegetable garden preparation or in and around fruits and vegetables’. Always read and follow labels of pesticides.

This caller also wanted to know what is wrong with her apricot trees, the fruits seem to be rotting as they fall from the tree?

A. This is likely due to brown rot. Next year, use orchard fruit tree sprays through the growing season. The orchard fruit sprays should be used every 10-14 days through the growing season, except during the bloom period and when ready to harvest.

9. The last caller of the day wants to know if he can eat the fruits off a purple leaf sand cherry? Also, can he shear it or is it too old to start that now that it is 5-6 years old and hasn’t been sheared yet?

A. The berries are not eaten from purple leaf sand cherry, this plant is more for ornamental value. These fruits are scavenged by birds instead. This is also a plant that won’t grow well if sheared. It is best to just selectively remove branches back to side-shoots to reduce the size.

*Disclaimer ­- Reference to any specific brand named product does not constitute endorsement, recommendation, favoring or implied criticism if similar products are not mentioned by Nebraska Extension in Gage County.  Identifying specific pesticides are for the convenience of the reader and are generally most commonly available.  Always read and follow the pesticide label.

Yard and Garden: June 7, 2019

Yard & Garden blog, 2019

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for June 7, 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: John Porter, Urban Ag Program Coordinator with Nebraska Extension

2019-06-07 10.05.021. The first question of the show was from tomatoes that had odd shaped leaves. What would cause that?

A. This is from herbicide drift. Tomatoes are very sensitive to drift from 2,4-D or Dicamba products. They should grow out of the damage, however because we don’t know exactly what product hit these tomatoes there is no way to know for sure when the product will be out of the tomatoes. I can’t say when or if these tomato plants will be safe for consumption this year.

2. A caller has moths in his house. He had brought in a sample previously for us to identify. What kind of moth is it and how can he get rid of it?

A. This insect is an Indian Meal Moth, a common pantry pest. This could have been brought in with foods purchased at the grocery store. Be sure to store all products containing cereal, grain, rice, flour, or pasta in air tight, insect proof containers such as canisters or Tupperware containers. Things like cake mixes or flour can be stored in the freezer. Clean up all cabinet shelves from crumbs. Discard infested food products. For more information on Pantry Pests, visit this website from Lancaster County Extension.

3. This caller has hosta plants that are getting holes in the leaves. What would cause this?

A. This is likely from slugs. They can be controlled by pushing a shallow container into the ground near the hostas so that the top of the container is at soil level. Fill the container with stale beer and it will attract the slugs so they fall into the container and die. You can also put cardboard over the ground at night and then pick it up during the day to kill the slugs underneath. There is also a product for slug control, called sluggo.

4. A caller has pampas grass that is dying from the center and would like to kill it. How can that be done?

A. If the dead center is what is bothering you, dig up the plant and divide it into multiple smaller plants. Pampas grass often gets a dead center with age and just needs to be divided. If you still want to kill it, cut it short and spray it with roundup or other glyphosate product to kill it over time. You can also try cutting it back and keeping a layer of mulch on it to smother the plant to death.

5. This caller has a maple seedling forest in their lawn. What can be done to kill all these maple trees?

A. Keep mowing over them, they will die. They don’t have enough roots to keep living after being mowed off.

6. How fast will maple seedlings to grow, if he decides to try to cultivate one or two of these seedlings for a new tree?

A. They are tiny, so it will take quite a while, but it can be done. However, these seeds are most likely from silver maples, that is more of a weedy species of maple tree. They grow easily and fast and therefore often break a lot of branches in storms. There would be better maple choices than silver maples such as Sugar maple or Red maple.

7. The next question came from another walk-in listener who brought in a weed for identification.

A. This is goutweed which is also called Bishop’s weed. There are ornamental varieties of this plant. However, if it is growing where it was not planted it is a weed and glyphosate or Roundup will work on that. If it is below 80 degrees for three days, you can spray 2,4-D. Don’t spray 2,4-D if it is too hot or humid because it can turn into a gas and move to non-target plants.

Spruce cone, Tom DeGomez, Univ of AZ, Bugwood
Blue Spruce Cone, Photo Courtesy of Tom DeGomez, University of Arizona, Bugwood.com

8. A caller has a spruce tree that is 30 feet tall. At the top of the tree it had red structures that now look like bagworms. She sprayed. Are those bagworms and should she spray again?

A. These are actually the cones of the tree. There are male and female cones on spruce trees. The cones can start out pink and then turn into a cone and the other cones are smaller. It is too soon for bagworms to be out this year. So you will need to spray for bagworms again in a couple of weeks when they hatch if you also have a problem with bagworms.

9. The next caller has a peach tree that was a volunteer from a seed pit. It now is loaded with peaches developing on the branches. Should it be thinned?

A. Yes, they should be thinned. Too many peaches on the branch can pull the branch down and break it which would be very damaging to the tree. Also, if you thin the peaches it can increase the size and sugar content. Thin them to only one per cluster and one peach every 6-8 inches along the branches.

10. A caller planted a new yard this spring. Now he has noticed a weed with a small yellow flower growing in it. What can he spray on his lawn to control this weed?

A. This could be either black medic, sorrel, or a sweet clover. These weeds are all controlled best in the fall of the year with a 2,4-D product. You can spray the entire yard in mid-September and again in mid-October for best control. Spraying now could be too hot causing the 2,4-D to turn into a gas and move to non-target plants. Also, spraying now won’t get a full kill on the plant, it will just burn back for a while.

11. This caller wants to know how to control voles in his lawn?

A. Place snap-type mouse traps in the runs of the voles. Place them perpendicular to the run. They can be baited with peanut butter or nothing at all. If there are neighborhood cats around, place a box with small openings on both ends around the traps to avoid harming the cats.

He also wanted to know why the needles on his pine trees are brown?

A. This is likely from Dothistroma needle blight. For best results the trees should be sprayed with a copper fungicide in mid-May and again in mid to late June. Spraying now would help reduce the spread, but spray earlier next year.

12. A caller wants to know why if he has plastic landscape sheets covered with mulch that slugs can get through that? Also, where can you buy sluggo?

A. The plastic and mulch make for a good environment for the slugs. They are able to hide under that during the day where it is dark and cool and they can climb out through the holes around the plants. It would be better to remove the plastic. Sluggo should be available at hardware stores, it is a granule product.

13. This caller has 2 Asian pears with ants and wasps in the fruit. The fruit also turns brown and fall off the trees. What is causing this and how can it be controlled?

A. The ants and wasps are not related to the fruit falling from the trees. The ants and wasps are also not harmful to the fruit development. The ants may be on the tree if there are aphids on the tree. Aphids produce honeydew as an excrement and the ants follow the aphids around to feed on the honeydew. The fruits falling from the trees could be from brown rot caused by weather conditions. Use a copper fungicide or orchard fruit spray with fungicide to help prevent this from occurring.

14. Can you divide and move lilacs?

A. This type of plant wouldn’t divide well. However you can start new plants by layering which is where you pull down on one branch and stake it into the ground nearby until it produces roots. Once the roots develop, you can cut it from the main plant and move it to another location. Lilacs can be transplanted, but it should be done in the fall.

15. The final caller of the show has peach trees with a lot of peaches. As they are maturing, they get a brown mold. What is causing this?

A. This is a disease called brown rot. It can be controlled with fungicide sprays. Apply the fungicide multiple times through the season. You can use an orchard fruit tree spray through the growing season every 10-14 days to control insect and disease issues.

He also wanted to know what to do when planting rhubarb to ensure success?

A. Plant it in well-drained soil because rhubarb gets root rot if it sits in water. Add compost when planting for fertility. Plant it so the crown is a little above the ground level, it often gets planted too deep which can cause crown rot as well. Other than that, it is fairly easy to grow. Be sure to wait 3 years before harvesting from the plant to allow the roots time to become fully established.

 

Yard and Garden: May 31, 2019

Yard & Garden blog, 2019

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for May 31, 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: Kyle Broderick, Plant Pathology Extension Educator, UNL

1. The first caller of the show wants to know how to control sandburs without chemicals to avoid harming birds and squirrels?

A. Sandburs can be controlled with pre-emergent grass herbicides in the spring or post-emergent herbicides for grasses such as Roundup after they have germinated later in the spring. All pesticides are approved by the EPA to ensure safety for wildlife and birds as long as they are handled correctly, but it is a personal preference for use of chemicals. Integrated Pest Management should always be used to help be the most effective and to be the most economical. For sandburs, hoeing or hand pulling can be effective to keep seed from producing for next year. Also, if you can get something else to grow in that area, that will help to outcompete with the sandburs. If the soil is compacted and sandy, where sandburs prefer, it might be better to add organic matter to the soil to improve the growing location for turf or other plants.

2. This caller wants to know how to get rid of carpenter bees?

A. 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.

India Meal moth sitting on wall with rule for size comparison.
Indian Meal Moth Adult by a Ruler. Photo by Vicki Jedlicka, Extension Assistant

3. An insect was brought in for identification and control methods.

A. This insect is an Indian Meal Moth, a common pantry pest. This could have been brought in with foods purchased at the grocery store. Be sure to store all products containing cereal, grain, rice, flour, or pasta in air tight, insect proof containers such as canisters or Tupperware containers. Things like cake mixes or flour can be stored in the freezer. Clean up all cabinet shelves from crumbs. Discard infested food products. For more information on Pantry Pests, visit this website from Lancaster County Extension.

4. A caller has spots in the yard with a small depression that has a powdery material and what looks like the remnants of a mushroom. What causes this and can it be controlled?

A. This could be from a puffball. Puffballs are a type of mushroom that when they become mature many spores will puff out of the structure that does not have a stalk like traditional mushrooms. After it has puffed, the pieces left behind are leathery and dark brown to black in color. Puffballs can get into a lawn from low fertility and from decaying tree roots or other organic matter. Maintain good lawn care practices and maintain adequate Nitrogen fertilizer that will help to break down woody tissues. Dig out the puffballs as they are seen in the area.

5. This caller has a maple tree that had a great deal of seeds dropped this spring. Now, there are millions of tiny maple seedlings growing in the lawn. What can be done to kill these seedlings off?

A. In the lawn, just continue to mow, the maple tree saplings will not be able to continually regrow and will die. In a garden setting, it would be best to hand pull or hoe out the seedlings. In a garden, careful applications of Roundup could be used as long as desirable plants are not sprayed. Mulch will also help to kill off the seedlings in garden locations.

6. Are bagworms out yet?

A. No, they haven’t been seen emerging yet. We are behind a little this year due to the cooler weather. Be checking often for emergence in your trees.

7. A caller has an ash tree that had green balls develop last year on the tree. They are still on the tree, what can be done about these? Should she be treating for Emerald Ash Borer?

A. The green ball structures are from an ash flower gall. This gall is from tiny eriophyid mites that feed on the flowers in the early spring. These galls can stay on the tree for more than one season, so these on her tree are likely from last year. Treatment is not necessary because these galls are an aesthetic issue and will not harm the tree. If treating the tree, sprays with sevin could be done in the early spring as the flowers develop. As for Emerald Ash Borer, it is best to wait until the borer is found within 15 miles of the tree to prevent excess damage to the tree and to avoid using chemicals for an insect that hasn’t been found in the area. Watch for signs of EAB in your tree and consult an arborist or your local Extension Office if you see these signs. Damage from EAB consists of: top dieback, bark falling off the tree, D-shaped exit holes, increased woodpecker damage, or increased suckering at the base of the tree.

Yard and Garden: May 24, 2019

Yard & Garden blog, 2019

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for May 24, 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: Donnie Engelhardt, Assistant Manager of the Little Blue NRD

1. The first caller of the show has what he suspects is foxtail in his lawn. He has used pre-emergent crabgrass control and it has not helped. How can he control it? He is also having trouble with zoysia grass on the east side of his house where this foxtail is growing. What can he do to improve zoysia?

A. If this is foxtail, crabgrass pre-emergent herbicides should work on it. I would assume that it may be something else if that didn’t work. This could be little barley, which is a winter annual weed that would be seeding now while the foxtail would not be yet. Little barley is often confused with foxtail, especially this time of the year. For more information on little barley, visit this article on Little Barley from Turf.unl.edu

As for the zoysia grass not growing, there could be a lot of issues with this. If it is on the East side of the house, it may not be enough sunlight for zoysia. Since this is a warm season grass, it is very crucial that the grass gets enough light and it is warm enough for best growth. Also, fertilization schedules would be quite different from cool season turf. Zoysia grass should only be fertilized in the summer months. Warm season grasses really only need up to 2 fertilizer applications per year, if any. Fertilize in later May-June and again in July-August. If fertilizing in the spring and fall, this can harm the zoysia grass.

2. A caller wants to plant either a peach tree or a cherry tree. Which will be better and do either of them get cedar-apple rust?

A. Neither peaches nor cherries will get cedar-apple rust. If you are planning on planting just one, for the growing conditions in southeast Nebraska, you would have more luck with a cherry tree. Peaches are not long lived in Nebraska due to our weather conditions. According to John Porter, Nebraska Extension Educator, “Peaches often have cracking due to rapid freezing and thawing. It can be pretty severe when the fluctuations are large and often. This leads to the gummosis and also damage/death of branches.  Its one of the reasons peaches aren’t well suited for Nebraska.” If cherry trees are chosen, tart cherries are best. Bing and other sweet cherry types will not grow in Nebraska.

3. This caller wants to know when he can plant his asparagus?

A. Asparagus is typically planted in the early spring with other spring crops such as broccoli and carrots. However, with the weather as cool as it has been, it would still be fine to plant it this year. Get it in the ground soon and make sure that the soil remains evenly moist in the hot, dry part of the summer.

4. A caller has an established wind break but mowing now is difficult. Can he prune the branches up so he can mow under the tree without damaging it?

A. Trimming dead branches around the bottom of the tree would be fine, don’t go too high or it will not be as effective as a windbreak. If the branches are still alive and full with needles all the way to the ground, it wouldn’t need to be mowed because the turf will die under that condition.

This caller also wondered about using a granule on the ground around trees to control bagworms?

A. The granule chemical controls he is referring to would be those containing imidacloprid. Bagworms are not a listed ‘pest controlled’ on the imidacloprid label so it is not a legal practice to use it on them. It is best to stick with chemicals such as Bt or Tempo for control of bagworms. Spray them when the bags are up to 1/2 inch in length for best control. I would assume that will be a little later this year due to the cooler spring.

5. What are the benefits of letting asparagus seed out?

A. Asparagus is a perennial crop that needs to have the season of growth to build a bigger, stronger plant. All of our plants need time to grow and build sugars for root expansion. Since we cut off all the asparagus through the beginning of the season, we need to allow them to grow through the rest of the summer.

6. Is it too late to plant strawberries or summer bulbs?

A. It is best to plant strawberries in the early spring. They could still be planted yet this year, but some varieties may not produce this year. Planting this late would cause problems getting the plants established, so be sure to mulch them and water them frequently until they are established. June bearing varieties would be past the bloom time and would not produce this year, but you could plant them to get them established so you can have a harvest next year. If planting everbearing this late, they may still produce later this summer. It would be best to cut off early season flowers that may develop to allow the plants to become more established before harvesting later in the summer after the plants are more established. Summer bulbs are best planted after the chance of frost for the year has passed. You would be past that now and still be in good time to get the bulbs into the ground. It will be later before they start to bloom, though.

green-asparagus-pixabay7. A caller wanted to know what type of manure would be best for asparagus fertilization?

A. Cow, chicken, or pig are good manure options for the vegetable garden, asparagus included. Fresh manure should be applied in the fall to allow time for the bacteria in it to break down before harvesting. For food safety guidelines, fresh manure needs to be applied 120 days prior to harvest, which means the fall in Nebraska. If it is composted manure, it would be fine in the spring.

8. This caller has apple trees. Last year the apples turned moldy while they were still on the tree. What would cause this?

A. There are a lot of different types of diseases that can lead to moldy apples. It could be from apple scab, sooty mold, powdery mildew, or black rot. Using an orchard fruit tree spray through the season would help reduce these diseases. Also, be sure to clean up infected fruits and leaves at the end of the season to reduce the incidence of disease from one year to the next.

9. A caller wants to transplant some foot-tall cedars from his pasture. Is it too late or can this still be done now?

A. It is getting quite late in the year to transplant trees. The concern is for when the shift from spring-like weather to summer hot, dry weather will occur. Typically June starts getting very hot and dry and a newly transplanted tree would not have any root system to get water if it gets dry. It might be better now to wait until fall, September or October. If the trees will be moved to a location where they will be watered adequately, it would be ok, but for best results now, it would be advised to wait until cooler temperatures return in the fall.

10. This caller has a lawn that is thin and weeds are starting to take over. When should he reseed this lawn? Would it be better to just kill it all off and start from scratch?

A. At this point in the year, it would be best to wait until the fall to overseed or reseed lawns. The turf will come up but it will likely get too hot and dry for it this summer, which will be here before we know it. It would be best to just overseed and thicken up the grass that is already established rather than kill it all off and start over. Starting from scratch takes a lot of time and it can be quite difficult. It would be easier to already have something covering the ground while you overseed to keep the weeds down. If weeds are a problem, you can use a mesotrione product, often found in Tenacity, at seeding this fall to kill the weeds when you overseed.

11. A caller wants to know if you can prune a magnolia now to reduce growth? Also, can the suckers around the base of the tree be removed now?

A. Yes, the magnolia hasn’t produced flower buds for next year yet, so it would be fine. Suckers can be removed anytime through the season. Suckers are growth that takes energy from the tree and have no real purpose so it would be best to remove those as they grow before they get too big.

12. Can a bee house still be hung outside yet this spring or is it too late to get much activity?

A. Yes, you would still be fine. These solitary bees are still out moving around. For next year, it would be better to have it out in April. For information on building your own solitary bee hotel, visit this NebGuide

13. The last caller of the day has apricot trees that are just for wildlife consumption. These fruits have not yet fully developed but many of them fell to the ground in storms recently. Her dog is now eating those fruits that have fallen. Is that toxic for dogs to eat them?

A. After discussion with a local veterinarian, the pit is the part of the apricot or peach that would be toxic to the dogs. If these are immature apricots, the pit would not be developed and it shouldn’t harm the dogs. That being said, it might be best to clean up these dropped fruits to be safest.

Yard and Garden: May 10, 2019

Yard & Garden blog, 2019

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for May 10, 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 Hosts: Kevin Christiansen, Horticulture Instructor at SCC Beatrice & Chelsea Tietjen, Agronomy and Entomology Instructor at SCC Beatrice

1. The first caller of the show wants to know when to start spraying his apple trees with the orchard fruit tree spray? He also wants to know if it is too hot here to grow cabbage because it is hard to get a harvest?

A. Orchard fruit tree sprays will combat both insect and disease problems on fruit trees. Sprays should begin as soon as pink is seen in the buds, but should cease during blooming. Since this caller hasn’t begun spraying yet, it would be fine to just start as the blossoms are falling off the tree. You want to allow the pollinators to come to the tree without harming them, so no sprays should be done while the trees are blooming. This spray should be applied every 10-14 days through the growing season, up until harvest.

As for the cabbage, it should be fine growing here, but some years it can get hot quickly and that can cause our cool season crops to bolt. Cabbage may be better grown in the fall due to the quick warm up in spring that usually happens here in Nebraska. For more information on growing cabbage, visit this article from Lancaster County Extension.

2. This caller was wondering if we would see bagworms later this year than most years due to the colder weather? He also wondered what is the best control for them and when to control them?

A. It is likely that we will see bagworms a little later this year due to the cooler spring we have had. They will hatch at different times in the year because their hatch is weather dependent. Starting in late May, check weekly for the small bags to begin to show up on the trees. When the small bags show up and until they are up to 1/2 inch in length you can spray. Tempo or Bt would be best for control.

3. A caller has lilacs that were planted 2 years ago. They were a small cutting at 1 inch tall when they were planted and now they are only 4-6 inches tall. What fertilizer can he use to get these to grow faster?

A. Mulch would be a better option for these plants since they are so small. This would protect them from weed competition and from accidentally being mowed over and would do much more for the plants than fertilizer would. It would also be a good idea to put a fence up around them to prevent rabbits from chewing them off since they are so small.

4. This caller has cedar-apple rust that is showing up on his cedars. He has sprayed his apple trees, but does he also need to remove the galls from the cedars?

A. The galls will not hurt the cedars and as long as you sprayed the apple trees, that should be sufficient. Pulling the galls off won’t stop the disease for future years because the spores can spread up to 2 miles so they will come from other cedar trees.

5. A caller has a rhubarb plant that is flowering and not producing the stalks for consumption. What can be done to improve stalk production?

A. Cut the flower stalks off at the bottom of the stalk. These flower stalks take energy from the plant. The energy is moved from the leaf production to flower production. The abnormal weather this spring has caused rhubarb to flower more this year than other years.

6. When do you prune snowball bush and lilacs?

A. After they complete blooming this spring, remove 1/3 of the stems at the base of the plant. Remove the largest, least productive canes and leave the smaller, younger, more productive canes.

This caller also wondered what do do for the purple flowering weeds and dandelions in the yard?

A. The purple flowering weeds are henbit. They are a winter annual and will soon die when the temperatures warm up, likely in the next week or so. There is no reason to spray them now. Dandelions are best controlled in the fall with an application of a 2,4-D product. Spray them in the middle of September and the middle of October. The later application in the fall will also help kill henbit as it emerges in the fall to reduce the population for next year.

7. A caller is building a raised bed in his landscape. Does he need to put rock at the bottom to help with drainage?

A. No, it wouldn’t be necessary to add rock to the bottom of a raised bed to help with drainage. Raised beds are built up on the sides with an open bottom. That will be drainage enough for them. Be sure to use good quality soil and some compost, don’t use soil from your yard.

Buckbrush, Steven K. UNL
Buckbrush Photo from Steven Knezevic, Extension Weed Management Specialist, from Cropwatch.unl.edu

8. How do you control buckbrush in the pasture?

A. According to the Guide to Weed Management from Nebraska Extension, 2,4-D will work on buckbrush in the pasture. For more information visit this cropwatch article.

9. This caller has lillies that are not growing well. The daylilies are short and blooming but they are not growing big at all. Other plants in the bed are fine and these daylilies in other locations are growing larger. What is causing the problem?

A. This may be a soil issue. It might be good to do a soil test. It could also be that the soil is compacted more in that location that are constricting the roots and limiting growth. Add some compost to the soil and work it in around the plants to try to reduce the compaction. A general fertilizer could be tried as well. It also could be that the plants are maybe planted a little too deep. It might be helpful to dig up the plants, add compost or manure to the soil, and replant the daylilies a little higher in the soil profile.

10. The last caller of the day had 2 questions. She is rejuvenating her landscape beds, should she use landscape fabric in them? Also, she has a trumpet vine growing on a trellis that has a lot of dead branching in it, what can she do to remove the dead growth and rejuvenate these vines?

A. Landscape fabric is not necessary in the beds. Landscape fabric can restrict the movement of moisture into the soil and harm the plants. Also, soil and weeds can move in on top of the fabric which defeats the purpose of using it. Finally, if you ever want to change that bed in the future, the landscape fabric is very difficult to remove.

As for the trumpet vine, it can be cut back heavily, but it would be best done early next spring rather than now because it is getting a little late this year. Remove the old, unproductive growth and leave the smaller, healthier growth.

Yard and Garden: May 3, 2019

Yard & Garden blog, 2019

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for May 3, 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: Dick Campbell, Owner of Campbell’s Nursery

1. The first caller of the show has holes in his lawn that are about the size of a pinky, what would cause that?

A. This could be from either earthworms or wolf spiders. Neither of these will harm our lawns, in fact they are both beneficial. Earthworms break up the soil and add compost back into our soil. Spiders will feed on problematic insects.

2. A caller was wondering about a homemade weed killer that has vinegar, dish soap and epsom salt in it?

A. It is not advised to go with homemade weed killers because there is no research to help with rates, timing, PPE, or other environmental and health risks associated with them. It is best to use IPM to control pests using mechanical and cultural practices first then turn to pesticides that have been approved from the EPA.

3. This caller is having difficulty with a redbud that isn’t blooming. It is 6-7 years old and in full sun, but it isn’t blooming yet. Why is that and can he do anything to get it to bloom?

A. Some varieties of redbuds take a few years before they will start blooming, it could just not be fully mature and ready to bloom yet. Transplant shock can also set the blooming cycle back. It should be over that soon. Also, if it is in an area where the lawn around it is getting a high amount of nitrogen, that could push the tree to leaf out and not push energy into flowering. Give it time and reduce the nitrogen fertilizer applied around the tree.

4. A caller has 2 lilacs. One is blooming fine, while the other is blooming only on 2 branches and the other branches seem to be dead. What can she do about this lilac?

A. A rejuvenation cutting will help to renew this shrub with only 2 live branches. You can cut the entire shrub off at about 6-8 inches above the ground. The new growth will be healthier and it should leaf out better and throughout the whole shrub. It may take a couple of years to rebloom after this rejuvenation cutting, but it will be better in the long-run. Also, be sure to remove any grass growing right up around the trunk of these shrubs. Add a nice 2-3 inch layer of mulch and keep the grass competition out away from the shrubs.

5. What is the best decorative/flowering tree for Nebraska?

A. There isn’t really one that is better than the others, there is a long list of great flowering trees. Crabapples are great spring flowering trees. Make sure that you pick one that is resistant to cedar-apple rust and apple scab. Serviceberries make a great flowering tree or large shrub for any landscape with berries for the birds in the fall. Redbuds are a favorite among many and there is a whitebud which is just a white flowering variety. Magnolias are amazingly beautiful, but they need to be planted in a somewhat protected location to help with flowering in those years with a later frost. Flowering pears can be used, but choose Chanticleer or Cleveland Select to avoid problems with branches breaking due to tight branch crotches.

This caller planted a redbud 6 years ago, but it has since died. What caused that?

A. It turns out that this tree wasn’t purchased from a local source and may have been shipped from the south, which was common with redbuds a few years ago. Once they were moved into Nebraska, they couldn’t tolerate the conditions that were so much different from where they were started and sourced, which was typically the South. This is why it is best to purchase trees from a local grower or a grower that is at the same latitude or further north than where the tree will be grown.

6. Where can you get buffalograss seed or plugs?

A. Campbell’s nursery has both seed and plugs available for purchase, as does Stock Seed Farms in Murdock, Nebraska. Buffalograss is a warm-season grass and shouldn’t be planted until late spring so later May would be ideal. It can be seeded until mid-August so long as irrigation is provided to help with establishment. Soil temperatures need to be 60 degrees F before buffalograss seed will germinate. Plugs should be planted at this time as well.

7. A caller added a raised bed around the tree about 5 years ago and heard us discussing how that shouldn’t be done. What can be done now?

A. Adding a raised bed around an existing tree can end up suffocating the tree. Before the raised bed, the tree was planted at the correct depth, after the raised bed, the tree is too deep. It will take between 5-10 years sometimes before any damage starts to show up in the tree. It is likely that once the tree does start to react to this change, you will see top dieback. You can try to remove the excess soil now, but it may be too late, the tree may still die.

8. When do you spray for bagworms?

A. They will hatch at different times in the year, it is weather dependent. Starting in late May, check weekly for the small bags to begin to show up on the trees. When the small bags show up and until they are up to 1/2 inch in length you can spray. Tempo or Bt would be best for control.

9. This caller has an area on the north side of their house in full shade that she would like to plant shrubs into. What can of shrubs can she plant in full shade?

A. There are some euonymus shrubs that could be planted there. This is the same genus of plant as burning bush. Summer sweet would grow well in the shade. If there is some sunlight, many hydrangeas would grow well there.

Termites
Subterranean Termites, Picture from UNL Entomology

10. A caller has concerns about termites coming from wood mulch. Will termites come from the mulch into the home?

A. It really isn’t a concern that termites will be brought in with mulch. The termites would be either cut up with the mulch or they would dry out quickly in those small pieces of wood. They have a soft body and will dry out quickly if not within soil or wood. 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.

11. The final question came to us from a Facebook post. This caller has a spot in his lawn that had a sidewalk in 1993, but even still it seems to dry up quickest in the summer and you can see a visual difference in the area where the sidewalk was in comparison to the rest of the grass.

A. This soil was severely compacted to add the sidewalk and still has not gotten better. They also add sand to build concrete on top of. I would suggest aerating annually and spreading compost over this area after the aeration. Over time, this will help to loosen the soil and to add organic matter back to the soil. Otherwise, you can dig it all up again and put in new soil that is high in organic matter and reseed overtop of that which would be much more work.