Yard and Garden: June 16, 2017

Yard & Garden for blog, 2017

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for June 16, 2017. 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 28, 2017. 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: Jim Kalisch, Insect Diagnostician from UNL Extension

If you enjoy reading my Q&A from the show each week, take my quick survey at: http://go.unl.edu/44qr and be entered to win a free plant book or some free UNL gifts.

1. The first caller of the day has a Daylily that has yellow streaks on the leaves. What is causing this? She also has Roses that are getting yellow leaves and sprayed a rose product containing both an insecticide and a fungicide. Will this work for the roses?

A. The daylilies likely have Daylily Leaf Streak, a fungal disease common on daylilies. It would be best to remove the infected leaves and destroy them from the plants as you see them and clean up the plants in the fall by cutting off all the foliage and destroying it for winter. It will also help to water from below the plants rather than using an overhead sprinkler. Also, it sounds like her daylily plants are overgrown, this fall it would help to dig and divide them to increase air space. As for the roses, they could be dealing with black spot or rose slugs. The fungicide and insecticide combined product will work to reduce the incidence of both of these problems.

2. A caller wants to know when the best time to transplant asparagus and what can be done for a cypress tree turning yellow?

A. Asparagus is best planted and transplanted in the spring. However, if this is an old patch of asparagus, it would be better to just start from new crowns. Either way, you need to wait 3 years to harvest to allow the roots to develop. Trees that turn yellow instead of their deep green color through the growing season are often lacking iron. The best management for Iron chlorosis is to use a trunk injection of iron. However, with cypress trees, it is often difficult to get them out of this condition and multiple years of trunk injections can start to stress the tree out to the point of death in some cases.

3. This caller has peonies and moonflowers in her yard and wants to know when the best time is to transplant them and how to prepare the area that was rocked to get these plants to grow well?

A. Spring will be best for establishment, but fall would be a second best option to transplant these plants. Remove the rocks that were in the new location and then till the soil, adding compost in as you till to improve the structure of the soil and add some nutrients back into the soil. When moving peonies, make sure that it is planted at the same depth in the soil, to deep and the plants will not flower. After you have planted, add some wood chip mulch around the plants to help them stay cool and hydrated. Water as needed.

4. A caller has a large blue spruce that has some browning on the needles and those needles are beginning to fall off the tree. This has started at the bottom of the tree and is moving upward through the tree. What is causing this? Can her tree be saved?

A. This could be one of two things, either a fungal disease or spidermites. After discussion, the caller stated that the needles are more of a reddish brown, which is distinct for a fungal disease called Rhizosphaera, which is common now. The trees can be sprayed with a fungicide to reduce the spread of the disease. Over time, the trees will grow new needles.

5. This caller recently planted 2 new 7-feet tall blue spruce trees. They are watering these trees at least once a week for 30 minutes and they are mulched in with straw. Now, the lower branches are droopy and wilted. Do these branches need to be removed?

A. These trees are dealing with transplant shock and need some time to build some new roots and get over the shock. Leave the branches for now and continue to water as needed.

6. A caller has a volunteer tomato plant that is about a foot tall. Can it still be transplanted now to be grown in the garden?

A. Yes, it will still be fine. The volunteer tomato will not come true from seed, so it may not be the same type of tomato as what was planted last year, but it should grow fine.

7. A caller has a bald cypress that has needles that are curling. What would cause this?

A. This sounds like drift from 2,4-D or another type of herbicide. This would happen if people are spraying these herbicides now that the temperatures have risen so high. Slight damage may be only aesthetic this year. Multiple years of damage can start to cause stress and even death to the tree.

8. This caller is growing grapes in his backyard. These grapes have black spots on the vine that the caller sees most years. The grapes then shrivel up before they can be harvested. What would cause this?

A. This sounds like a fungus. It would be best to get on a fungicide schedule with your grape plants to keep this fungus from returning every year. For more information on when and what to spray, view the Midwest Small Fruit and Grape Spray Guide

9. How do you stop zoysia grass from spreading in Tall Fescue and Kentucky Bluegrass?

A. Fall fertilization will push zoysia to grow when it is going dormant because it is a warm season grass. This fertilization will be beneficial to the cool season grasses.

10. A caller has Canna bulbs. Is it too late to plant them yet this year?

A. They can plant them to keep them alive and get sugars built up for next year, but they will likely not bloom this year. Cannas have to be dug up and stored indoors over the winter and if they are left out of the ground for 2 seasons, they may not have enough energy to grow after that. Planting the bulbs this year to get sugars for growth next year would be the best place for them to be stored.

11. This caller has patches of round grass in the lawn. How can it be controlled?

A. This is likely a perennial grassy weed such as windmill grass, orchardgrass, or quackgrass. These can be controlled with roundup and then overseeding or with a mesotrione product such as Tenacity. For more information on these weeds, view this article from Lancaster County Extension.

12. A caller has a spirea bush with dead wood in it. Can it be cut back now?

A. Yes, this isn’t the best time for a summer blooming spirea, but it will be fine. Summer blooming spirea’s should be pruned in the late winter, such as February and March for best blooms. This can be pruned back to 6-8 inches from the ground. However, if it is a 50 year old plant, as the lady stated, it may be getting old and may not return from a rejuvenation cutting as it may be dying due to old age.

13. How do you get rid of poison ivy which is growing in rose bushes?

A. It will be difficult to remove the poison ivy and not harm the roses or not get a medical reaction from the poison ivy while working to remove the posion ivy. Paint roundup on the leaves of the poison ivy now, being careful not to get the glyphosate on the roses. It may take multiple applications to kill the poison ivy entirely. Wear long pants, long-sleeved shirt, gloves, socks, and shoes when applying this to avoid getting a rash from the poison ivy.

Poison Ivy-David J Moorehead, Univ of GA, Bugwood

Photo of Poison Ivy courtesy of David J. Moorhead, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org

14. This caller has a trumpet vine that is creeping into the lawn. How can it be controlled in the lawn without damaging the parent plant?

A. Just keep mowing it off. These are likely runners from the main plant and if a pesticide is used to control the runners, it will go through the plant into the roots of the main plant.

15. This caller is curious if poison ivy oils can transfer to pine cones on the ground surrounding the poison ivy plants? She is also curious if she can trim her Iris plants back now or if she has to wait until the fall?

A. According to Clemson University, the poisonous oils can remain active for months on objects. It can be picked up on tools, clothing and the fur of pets. Anything that may carry the oil should be carefully washed. Even dead plants or roots may cause allergic reactions for a couple of years. So it is best to clean the pine cones that came in contact with the poison ivy. For more information, see this guide from Clemson

As for the Iris plants, you need to wait until fall to cut the leaves back when the leaves turn brown for the year. It gives the plant time through the summer to build up sugars to help bloom early next spring.

16. What type of tree would be recommended that is smaller but provides good shade?

 

A. Dwarf Chinkapin, Pawpaw, Redbud, Crabapple, Serviceberry

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Yard and Garden: June 3, 2016

Yard & Garden for blog

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for June 3, 2016. 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 5, 2016. 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: Sarah Browning, Lancaster County Extension

1. The first caller of the day has strawberries that are all developing but they are rotten fruits. What would cause this and can it be fixed?

A. This is probably due to a fruit rot disease that is caused by a fungus due to the high rains this year. At this point in the season, fungicides will not help and you will not get much of a crop from these plants. If this is a problem seen every year, a liquid copper fungicide can be applied next year. You should start spraying the plants at petal fall right after the blooms finish next season. To help with this disease, also use a mulch around the plants and avoid overhead irrigation.

2. A caller wanted to know if wildflowers do better where grass doesn’t grow very well? Can he still plant wildflowers now?

A. Wildflowers don’t really do better where grass won’t grow, but the area to plant wildflowers does need to be prepared for the wildflowers. It is best to clean up the area with a glyphosate product, such as Roundup, then till the area up and seed the wildflowers. This can still be done now, it will be fine through most of the spring and fall months. Unless you are planting annual wildflowers, which will reseed for each year, you will not get many blooms this growing season. It will take a few years to get the wildflowers going well and weed control will be necessary. If you don’t want any grasses growing in the wildflower patch, you can use grass herbicides and not harm the wildflowers.

3. This caller has pansies that are being eaten, the small white dots are on the underside of the leaves. What would this be and how can they be controlled?

A. This could be aphids which can be controlled with eight, bifenthrin, or malathion. However, pansies are nearing the end of their life as they are a cool season plant. So you could just remove the pansies and plant something else to reduce the problem and not have to use pesticides.

4. A caller has been dealing with high populations of grasshoppers recently. They are feeding heavily on his potatoes. What can be done to control them?

A. In the potatoes, you will need to use an insecticide labeled for use in a vegetable garden such as bifenthrin, sevin, or eight. It would also be helpful to keep the grass mowed around the garden and to treat it with some of these insecticides. Also, grasshoppers are often found in roadsides, so be sure to spray these areas as well to help reduce the overall population.

5. When can peonies and iris be cut back?

A. You can cut off the flower stalks on both of these plants as soon as they are done blooming. However, you need to wait until they die back in the fall before removing any leaves from the plant.

6. This caller has a lawn with patches of darkened areas throughout it. What would cause this?

A. Walk through the dark areas to see if the blades pop back up. If the blades stay down after they are walked on and you can see you footprints, it is due to drought stress and the lawn needs to be watered. Also, look closely at the leaf blades to see if there are small, black/gray structures like tiny balls. This would be slime mold which is also showing up in the lawns now. Slime molds are not a serious problem to the lawn.

7. This caller has a weeping willow. He wants to know if he can prune the branches up so he can mow underneath it?

A. Pruning for a weeping willow is best done in the fall but it can be done now. You can limb it up and shorten some of the branches to make it more accessible for mowing. However, don’t remove more than 1/3 of the plant in one growing season.

8. A caller wanted to know about mosquito control. He had found a recipe online that was with household items and it claims to control mosquitoes for 80 days. Will this work?

A. No. The best control for mosquito control outdoors only last for a few days. It is best, if you are having an outdoor BBQ, to spray the lawn and shrubs around the lawn up to 2 days prior to the event for management of mosquitoes. You can use sevin or eight or malathion or bifenthrin for control. Be sure to use bugspray containing DEET while outdoors. Also, make sure you have no standing water in your lawn to reduce the population of mosquitoes.

Roseslug Collage

Rose slug on the leaf on the left, damage from rose slugs on the right.

9. This caller has roses that have leaves that look shredded or with many holes in them. What can be sprayed on the roses to help them with this problem?

A. This was brought into the extension office later for identification. It was rose slugs. These are small, translucent, green caterpillars with a brown head found on the underside of the leaves. Rose slugs are actually the immature of a sawfly and not a slug at all. They are mostly damaging to the aesthetics of the plant and are not that harmful but they can be treated with sevin dust on the underside of the leaves if they are heavily damaging the plant. Be careful to not get the sevin on the flowers to not harm bees.

10. What digs holes 6-7″ deep straight down into the mulch around trees?

A. This could be either squirrels or skunks or possums that would be digging for insects. Clean up around the tree to help deter the animals.

11. The final caller of the day has a cedar windbreak with a lot of scrub trees growing among the cedars. How can those be controlled?

A. It is best to just cut off the scrub trees and do a stump treatment with a concentrated roundup product. Spraying in the windbreak can damage the cedar trees.

Yard and Garden: April 15, 2016

Yard & Garden for blogThis is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for April 15, 2016. 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 5, 2016. 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: Jeff Culbertson, UNL Landscape Services

1. The first caller of the day has asparagus that she planted last Spring. What needs to be done with the plant now?

A. Light harvest can be done the second growing season and then full harvesting can begin the third season. Mulch it now to keep weeds down, herbicide sprays are not able to be safely used too close to growing asparagus. Cut the plants back in the fall after they have grown well all season. Fertilizer can be applied now or in the fall.

2. How do you control moles in the lawn? How do you control grubs in the lawn?

A. For mole control, see this guide from the Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management: http://icwdm.org/handbook/mammals/mam_d51.pdf Make sure that you have found an active run area before implementing any traps by stomping the mounds down for a couple of days prior to setting the trap. For grub control, the best option is to apply a product containing Imidacloprid around the third week of June.

3. This caller from the Southern part of the United States said that it is difficult to grow asparagus in the south. Is this due to the lack of dormancy in the south compared to what we have in Nebraska?

A. Yes, asparagus would need to have a rest period that occurs during our winter in Nebraska. However, the roots are also prone to root rot problems, so it might be that your soil could be too high of clay that isn’t allowing the asparagus roots to dry out enough.

4. Another caller has Iris that they have sprayed with Sevin for iris borers that are always a problem. Is this the best product and when should she be applying it? Also, she applied lime to the plants and now they are a lime green color instead of the deep green they are supposed to be. What is causing this discoloration?

A. Lime is used for acidic soils to raise the pH. In Nebraska, most of our soils are heavy clay and therefore already have a high pH. The addition of the lime to the soils in this case is causing chlorosis on these iris plants. It will work through over time, but for a couple of years the iris may look a little tired. The Iris borers have not shown up yet, but a treatment with an imidacloprid, permethrin, or bifenthrin soon or just as the larvae come out would be ideal for control.

5. This caller is wondering what the timing is for fertilizer with crabgrass pre-emergent herbicide? He is also wondering how to control bindweed in bromegrass?

A. Anytime in the next week or 2 would be ideal for fertilizer and crabgrass pre-emergent use this year. The soil temperatures are at 54.9 degrees Fahrenheit for the 7 day average. Crabgrass will germinate at temperatures between 55-60 degrees Fahrenheit, so you can begin applying your control methods anytime now until the end of the month for best control. The bindweed can be controlled with trimecĀ  if used 2-3 times per summer. Keep the bindweed mowed to prevent flowering from occurring to reduce the amount of seed left in the grass.

6. A caller has cedar trees that were recently pruned from the bottom up. What would be a good grass to grow under these trees?

A. A fescue grass would grow well in this shady environment. Also, a nice groundcover such as purple leaf wintercreeper would be a good alternative to grass to reduce mowing under the tree and to grow better in the shade of the tree.

7. This caller from Hickman has a cherry tree. Every year they mow off many “little trees” that grow up and around the cherry tree. Is there anything else to do to reduce the occurrence of these trees?

A. Suckering occurs with many different tree species. These suckers may be growing off of the roots of the main tree so chemicals should not be used or else you may end up killing the desired tree as well. Cutting them off or mowing over them before they grow too large would be the best options for control.

8. This caller has fruit trees. He is wondering if a product called “fruit tree drench” for insects would be ok?

A. Not knowing the active ingredients in this product makes it hard to answer the question. Systemic insecticides are not usually safe for use in plants that are edible because a systemic insecticide will move throughout the entire plant, including into the edible parts. It is suggested to do more research on the safety of the product or to move to a spray type of insecticide that is not systemic to reduce the health hazards that may be a problem with systemic insecticides.

9. Another caller has an apple tree that is 7-8 years old. The last 3 years it has produced nice apples but they are rotten inside. Now there are not many apples that are not rotten on the inside. What can be done for this?

A. Sanitation is going to be key for controlling this disease, known as black rot of apples. A orchard fruit tree spray program can be used to minimize the damage as well. Pruning may need to be done to remove any branches that are dead or diseased.

10. A caller wanted to start a new strawberry patch. How far should the plants be spaced in the garden and what should be done to the soil for improvements?

A. Till in compost and topsoil for increased organic matter and reducing compaction in the soil. Space the plants 1 foot apart.

11. This caller has a maple tree that is not budding out and has not yet lost the leaves from last spring. Will it survive?

A. Some maples, such as the sugar maples, have not yet leafed out for this spring. Use the fingernail test to scratch the bark lightly on smaller branches to see if there is green underneath the bark. Green under the bark means the tree is still alive and waiting to come out of winter dormancy, brown under the bark means it died over the winter.

12. A caller wants to know about the “spray on grass”. Will it work for overseeding?

A. Should work ok, but check with the types of grass seed included in these cans. Many of these mixes have perennial rye which doesn’t last long in Nebraska environments. Also, check for the amount of weed seed found in the mixture.

13. Is it too late to thin Iris plants?

A. The best time to transplant and divide iris plants is in the fall. Use a garden fork to lift them from the ground. Look for borer holes, and then replant them making sure to not plant them too deeply.

14. What is the best advice for improving soils for growing watermelons?

A. Lighter soils are best for growing watermelons. Add compost to improve the fertility.

15. A gentleman has cherry trees, apricot trees, and peach trees. What type of mulch should be applied to help keep the trees watered?

A. Organic mulches should be used, such as the wood chips. They need to be applied at a uniform depth of 2-3 inches in a ring around the trees that is at least 2-3 feet wide around the tree. Water the trees for about 45 minutes every 10-14 days, more may be necessary during the hot, dry periods of the summer. Use a soil probe or long screwdriver to see if the trees need water. Push the probe into the soil up to 12-18 inches deep, if there is resistance any time while pushing into the ground, the trees need water.

grape hyacinth, ricky layson photography, bugwood

Grape Hyacinth photo from Ricky Layson, Ricky Layson Photography, Bugwood.org via Creative Commons License.

16. A caller has grape hyacinth growing in her lawn. What can be done for management?

A. Mow it off. This is a short lived annual plant that is close to the end of its lifetime for this year. There is no need to use chemicals to control this plant.

Yard and Garden: June 26, 2015

Yard and Garden Green Logo

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for June 26, 2015. 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, 2015. 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: Sarah Browning from Nebraska Extension in Lancaster County

1. A caller has a pine tree with needles that are turning brown at the bottom of the tree. What would cause this?

A: There are a couple of common fungal diseases on pine trees, needle blight and tip blight. Both of these diseases will start from the base of the tree and move upward. Depending on the species of tree, it could also be pine wilt, but this disease progresses rapidly, causing death in only a few months. There are fungicides to be used for needle and tip blight, but they are best used in May and June. Neither of these fungal diseases should kill the tree in one growing season. This publication from the Nebraska Forest Service, Diseases of Evergreen Trees, shows pictures of both diseases and pine wilt and goes over treatment methods.

2. This caller has tomatoes that have black specks on the leaves which eventually turn yellow and die, but there are no specks on the tomatoes themselves. She was also curious why it makes a difference to water from below rather than above?

A: This would be a fungal disease called black speck or black spot. It is best controlled through good sanitation practices such as watering from below the plant, removing infected leaves as they are first seen on the plant, removing plants in the fall after the growing season, avoid crowding plants, rotating plants each year in the garden, etc. There is a great NebGuide on Leaf and Fruit Diseases of Tomatoes that will be helpful with many of our tomatoes this year with all of the rains as we are seeing many more leaf diseases. Watering from below the plant helps reduce spores splashing from plant to plant and from the soil to the plant. Watering from below also helps to keep the leaves dry throughout the day and into the night to reduce leaf wetness and humidity in the plant which is conducive to disease development.

3. A caller has a bur oak that is 15 feet tall with leaves that are curled under. What would cause that?

A: This could be herbicide damage from a 2,4-D product. It could also be from aphids or lacebugs. To determine if it is due to insect feeding, look on the underside of the leaves for tiny, green bugs, lace-like bugs, or frass. If it is aphids, they can be controlled with many general insecticides. Lacebugs rarely warrant insecticides as their damage is minimal to the tree. If it is herbicide drift, the tree should grow out of it, depending on severity of damage.

Bagworm

Bagworm

4. Is it time to spray for bagworms yet?

A: They have not yet begun to emerge in Southeast Nebraska. They are behind in their development this year due to the cool spring. They should be emerging in the next week or two. Ensure that the immature bagworms are active on your tree before treating to get best control from your pesticide.

5. Another caller wanted to know if it is illegal to use rainwater in Nebraska?

A: No, Nebraska does not have a law to prohibit the catching and use of rainwater, as some other states do. Rainwater is a good use of extra water to avoid so much runoff and contamination to the water supply. Be careful to not use rainwater on vegetable crops to avoid contamination from non-potable water.

6. This caller has a Kentucky coffeetree that was planted in the right-of-way by the city within the last 2 years. The bottom of the tree has leaves and new growth, but the top of the tree does not. Will it survive?

A: This tree probably is having troubles with establishment or may have been planted incorrectly. Due to this, the top of the tree is not receiving water and nutrients from the roots. It can be pruned back to the growth with possible success. Be sure to watch for a new leader to develop or you may have to start a new one to help it grow taller as the central leader will be pruned off of the tree.

Photo by Howard F. Schwartz, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org

Yellow Nutsedge Photo by Howard F. Schwartz, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org

7. How can nutsedge be controlled in lawns?

A: A product that is specific for use on sedges can be used in the lawn with no harm to the turfgrass. The most commonly used product for yellow nutsedge is Sedgehammer, it should be applied multiple times throughout the growing season, as new plants come up. It is better to spray with Sedgehammer early in the life of the new plant to reduce nutlet production and reduce the size of the plant.

8. A caller wondered when the best time is to prune an oak tree?

A: It is not advisable to prune oak trees during the summer months to avoid chances of getting oak wilt in the tree. The best time to prune oaks, and many of our deciduous trees, would be in the dormant season, such as November.

9. A caller has a fescue lawn that is getting yellow in spots. What would be the cause of that?

A: This year we have faced many days of cool, wet, cloudy weather which is favorable to many turfgrass diseases. This sounds like it is either brown patch or dollar spot disease. Brown patch has tan colored lesions on the leaf blades that have a dark margin around the tan spot. Dollar spot would just be tan spots in the lawn that are typically half-dollar sized but you can see many dollar spots coalesce into one larger spot. As the weather dries out and warms up, the fungus should fade in the lawn, or you can use fungicides in the lawn if necessary.

10. A caller has bindweed in the lawn. What can be done to control it?

A: A herbicide that is just for broadleaf weeds will work on the bindweed and not harm the lawn. Triclopyr is a great choice to use. This is commonly found in brush killer, poison ivy killer, and clover killer in the stores. Make sure that the temperature on the day of application is below 85 degrees Fahrenheit to reduce the risk of harm to non-target plants.

11. A lady has cucumbers that are flowering with no fruits developing. What would cause that?

A: Cucumbers have both male and female flowers on the same plant. Early in the season you may see development in only male flowers with no female flowers to produce no fruit. The female flowers will have a tiny cucumber structure at the base of the flower. This also could be due to low pollinator presence in the garden. Rainy days and hot days discourage pollinators. Give the plants more time, they should begin to produce female flowers and fruits soon. Hand-pollination may also be necessary if it is due to low pollinator presence. To hand-pollinate, take a Q-tip and touch the pollen of all of the flowers.

12. A caller has a clematis plant that is dying back, causing all of the leaves to turn brown.

A: Clematis commonly gets a fungal root and crown rot. If this plant was in a location where water sat this year with all of the heavy rains, it may have caused this fungal disease to occur. Cut the plant back to the ground and see if it will grow back, if not, you will need to replant.

13. This caller has Iris plants that have completed their blooming period for the year. Can these be cut back now?

A: No, all spring blooming plants need to be left, without being cut off, for the remainder of the summer until their foliage turns brown in the fall. This allows the plants to make sugar throughout the summer months to have a starting supply for early spring blooming next year. The flower stalks can be removed after the flowers are done.

14. A caller has patches of clover in the lawn. What can be done for management for the clover?

A: The best time for treatment of clover is in the fall with a Triclopyr or 2,4-D product. At this point, the temperatures are too high for herbicide control without possible harm to non-target plants. Both of these products can turn into a gas and move to non-target plants if temperatures are above 80-85 degrees Fahrenheit, the 2,4-D can volatilize for up to 72 hours. Be sure to mow the clover prior to herbicide treatment to mow off the flower blooms and cause less harm to bees.

15. A caller has grass planted in late March and added more seed later in the spring. She used a starter fertilizer and covered the areas with straw, and now there are brown spots appearing in the lawn. What would be causing that?

A: Brown patch disease is common on young seedlings of tall fescue. Look for irregular shaped tan spots with a dark margin to know if it is brown patch. Bayleton is a good fungicide that may still be effective on this lawn. Also, remove the excess straw to reduce disease problems.

16. That same caller has crabgrass coming up around her trees. Can she use roundup to control it?

A: Roundup can be used around the base of trees with minimal damage to the trees. A better option would be to use a post-emergent crabgrass herbicide such as Dimension or Fusilade.

17. A caller wanted to know if it was allowable to use Grass-B-Gone in their sweetcorn?

A: No. Grass-B-Gone kills all types of grasses, including sweetcorn. Also, Grass-B-Gone is not labeled for use in a vegetable garden.

18. A gentleman has mock orange and bridal wreath spirea. When can these plants be pruned?

A: Both of these plants have just finished blooming for the year so they can be pruned now. Remove no more than 1/4 of the plant in a growing season. This can be done by removing the largest canes at the base of the plant. If it is too tall, you can remove 1/4 of the height, if it is a 4 foot tall shrub you can prune it back to 3 feet tall.

19. A caller wanted to know what to do for management of dandelions in their lawn?

A: Dandelions are best controlled in the fall with a 2,4-D product.

Fall is here, get your plants ready for winter!

Fall weather is upon us again. We can see the end of summer gardening coming to a close. With that, we can get out in our gardens and take care of many different activities to prepare our lawns and gardens for the winter months.

Photo by V. Jedlicka, Lancaster County Extension

Photo by V. Jedlicka, Lancaster County Extension

Summer bulbs can bring a great deal of color and interest to our gardens, however, they do need to be dug up and stored indoors over the winter. Summer bulbs should be dug up prior to the first hard freeze in the fall. These bulbs should be cured before they are stored by leaving them in the sun for a few weeks. After they have cured, place them in peat moss or similar substance in a well-ventilated, cool area for the winter months. Check periodically through the winter if more peat moss is needed.

Houseplant

Houseplants also should be brought back inside this time of the year to avoid injury due to the nighttime cold temperatures. Before bringing houseplants indoors, you may want to treat them with a general insecticide such as sevin or eight to ensure you do not bring any unwanted insect guests into your home.

Cut back iris and peony plants as soon as the leaves start to turn brown in the fall. Remove all of the foliage above ground and discard it to reduce the spread of diseases such as botrytis and leaf blight that we often see on these plants. Wait until early spring to cut back roses and butterfly bushes due to the hollow stem. Pruning these plants back in the spring will help with their survival as during the winter moisture can get into the cut, hollow stems and freeze and thaw, thereby cracking the crown and killing the plant. You can also cut back other perennials such as coneflowers, dianthus, and many others that die back to the ground each year. This will help to clean up your garden area preparing it for new growth next spring.

Tilled garden

With the end of the vegetable gardening season coming to an end, be sure to clean your garden space before winter as well. If a frost is predicted, be sure to check out your garden before that occurs. Get all of the produce out of the garden before the frost occurs or within the next day or two following the frost so that it can still be enjoyed fresh, frozen, or canned. After the plants are finished for the season, be sure to clean all of the plants out of the garden and either compost them or throw them into your trash. If they had any diseases on them, it is best to not compost them to ensure the disease spores do not get into your compost. You can also take the time this fall to till your garden up as preparation for next spring. If you till your garden in the fall, be sure to put some type of mulch on the soil to prevent wind erosion through the winter. Organic mulches, such as grass clippings, make a good mulch to use for this because it can then be tilled back into the garden in the spring adding organic matter to the soil.