This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for April 17, 2020. 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 July 31, 2020. 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: No guest host due to COVID-19 and social distancing
1. The first caller of the day wants to know when he can transplant the zucchini, eggplant, and peppers that he started in his home this year. With the snow, should he wait a little longer?
A. Yes, these are all warm season crops and they need soil temperatures in the 60’s before they will do much at all in the garden. They also will not live through temperatures below 31 degrees Fahrenheit. Warm season crops should wait to be planted after the last frost of the spring, which averages in late April for southeast Nebraska. It is a good rule of thumb to go with early May for planting to ensure you are past the last frost of the year, I like to use Mother’s Day for a general planting date. With crops started indoors at home, remember to harden them off for a week or two ahead of planting outside. Hardening off can be completed by gradually moving the plants into more sunlight and more wind exposure each day and bringing them indoors overnight.
2. A caller wanted to know where the best location is to plant rhubarb?
A. Rhubarb should be planted in full sun, in well-drained soil. Make sure that it is a location that isn’t low in the landscape or a location where water tends to sit. Rhubarb is very prone to crown rot if not in a high, dry location.
3. This caller has peonies. They had emerged and were about a foot tall. Now, after the snow, they are leaning over. Will they be ok?
A. If they were hit hard by the snow, they may lose a few leaves, but the plant will be fine. Peonies are early season plants and therefore should be just fine through late spring snows and cold weather. Give them time to recover before jumping to cut them off. If the leaves remain discolored or limp, they should be removed in a couple of weeks. The blooms were not set on these plants so they should still bloom.
4. A caller didn’t get his potatoes in yet, when should they be planted? He thought you were to plant potatoes on Good Friday or St. Patrick’s Day.
A. Potatoes are more of a cool season plant, and it is an old saying to plant them on Good Friday or St. Patrick’s Day (depending on who you talk to for your timing). However, this was a rare, high amount of snow and unusually cold weather. They can take down to freezing, but lower than that they might need to be covered to get through. So, if they aren’t planted yet, plant them once the snow has melted now. The weather is supposed to warm up now.
5. This caller is going to be planting strawberries in a raised bed. What materials should he use for building the sides of the bed?
A. Landscape timbers work well for raised beds or old railroad ties that are no longer oozing any creosote. Also, bricks or other hardscaping types of bricks can be used.
6. A caller wants to know who to call to remove an evergreen hedge from her landscape?
A. It would be best to call a professional tree trimmer or tree removal service. A Certified Arborist would be best, but just make sure the company is licensed and insured.
7. This caller has pine trees that have a lot of brown branches throughout the tree. What is causing it?
A. Unfortunately, it is hard to tell from the description. The trees need to first be properly identified to know what type of tree it is and I would need to see what the brown areas look like to know for sure what it is. The caller was going to send photos, but hasn’t yet.
8. A caller has asparagus that came up and was growing but they didn’t cover the plants for the cold weather and snow. Now the spears that were up are soft to the touch. What is wrong and will the plants survive?
A. The freezing temperatures and snow caused this damage. Asparagus is a very cold hardy plant, this is just damage to those spears. Those soft spears should be removed and discarded, but the plant will regrow just fine.
9. This caller has a succulent in the house that was growing well but she repotted it recently because it was getting rootbound. Now part of the plant is leaning over and the leaves aren’t as shiny. It also looks like it has white hairs on it. What is wrong with it and can it be fixed?
A. After looking at a photo and seeing that the plant tag showed this was a kalanchoe, I could determine more about the plant. The white hairs are aerial roots, they aren’t harmful. The plant looks to be leaning for more sunlight. This plant has been in an east window, but needs full sunlight. I suggested moving it to a south or west facing window for more intense, afternoon sunlight.
10. A caller had a vine like plant that looked like cucumber vine last year that took over his windbreak trees. What can be done for it now?
A. This was burcucumber and it was very bad last year. It is an annual weed, so it germinates from seed every year. It does pull very easily, so as you see it start growing up the trees this summer, you can hand pull it. In large shelterbelts, if needed, Simazine (Princep 4L) is labeled for preemergent control in shelterbelts to kill weed seeds as they germinate. Do not apply more than 4 qt. Princep 4L per acre (4 lb. a.i./A) per calendar year. Do not apply more than twice per calendar year.
11. Can you transplant a lilac bush?
A. Yes, they can be transplanted. The fall would be the best time for this.
12. This caller has spruce trees that have mulberries and other scrub trees growing up through the spruces. What can be done to kill these scrub trees and not harm the spruce trees?
A. You can go through and cut off the mulberries and follow that up with a stump treatment using either 2,4-D or a glyphosate product, such as Roundup. Use the concentrate and just paint it on to the freshly cut stump for best control. Do NOT use Tordon, that will likely kill the spruce trees, and it is against label directions.
13. When should purple flowering clematis be transplanted?
A. Clematis are best moved in the early spring or fall.
14. This caller wondered about growing vegetable plants in cattle lick tubs. What things are important to know when using these as a container gardens?
A. Make sure there is a few holes for water drainage so they don’t end up soaked after storms go through. Also, the lighter colored tubs will be better than black or dark colored containers. The lick tubs that are black are going to get very hot in the sun, which can be detrimental to the roots of the plants. If you have black or dark colored tubs, you might put some hay or hay bales around the container to help keep it a little cooler. Use potting soil purchased from a store to ensure nutrients and good moisture holding capacity. Don’t use fresh manure at planting around any vegetable plants due to the bacterial issues, manure needs to be applied composted in the spring or fresh in the fall. However, when working with potting soil, no manure would be necessary. Because these plants are growing in containers, they will likely need to be watered more often than a traditional garden. Check the soil every day, if it is dry, water the plants. If the soil is still wet, wait to water. Lick tubs can make very good containers for gardening and could help those who can’t get down on the ground for traditional gardens.
15. A caller has lilies, daylilies, and iris in her flower bed. It got away from her last year and now has a lot of bromegrass growing in it. What can be done to kill the grass and not the flowers?
A. Grass-B-Gon can be sprayed on the garden space. It will kill the grass but not harm the flowers. This would be the only product. It does take time to fully kill the grass, so be patient.
16. This caller has young saplings growing around his garden. Will 2,4-D or roundup work and not harm the garden plants.
A. Yes, either of these products can be used on the saplings and if not oversprayed on the garden, those plants will be fine. Roundup would be the better option when it gets warmer because it doesn’t volatilize like the 2,4-D does. The best way to do this would be to cut the saplings off then paint the herbicide on the freshly cut stump.
17. Is it a good time to apply crabgrass control to the lawn?
A. The snow did push our soil temperatures back down, but they should rebound fairly quickly. I would say in the next week or so we should be back up to the 55-60 degree level to apply the controls. So, go ahead and start using your crabgrass preemergence herbicides.
18. The final caller of the day wants to know when to spray 2,4-D for lawn weeds this spring?
A. That could be done anytime now or in the next couple of weeks. Make sure you apply it on a day that temperatures are below 80 degrees for 72 hours so it doesn’t volatilize and move to non-target plants. Broadleaf weeds are best controlled in the fall once the weeds have begun their preparations for winter. In the fall, these perennial weeds will move sugars that they use for energy from the above ground portions of the plant down into the roots to store them for next spring. If they are sprayed during this phase of their lifecycle, they are more likely to take that herbicide down into the roots to be more effective than if done in the spring. Spraying these weeds in the spring will knock them down, but likely not kill them outright.
He also wanted to know how to store onions?
A. Home gardeners should cure onions after harvest. When the tops are dry, they should be trimmed to 1 inch lengths. Leave the onion‘s dry outer skins on; they help reduce bruising, shrinking and act as an insect barrier. Store onions in shallow boxes, mesh bags or hang them in old nylons in a cold, dry, well- ventilated room. Or braid the leaves of onions for hanging and storage. Temperatures close to 32°F will give the longest storage. Products prone to absorb odors or flavors should not be stored close to onions. For more information, view this NebGuide
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