Yard and Garden: April 7, 2017

Yard & Garden for blog, 2017

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for April 7, 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 Hosts: Jonathan Larson, Extension Entomologist from Douglas-Sarpy Counties & Jody Green, Extension Entomologist from Lancaster County

1. The first question was to see if we could guess the caller’s favorite insect that was described as a moth with large, light green wings and feathery antennae?

A. This is a luna moth

2. A caller has moles in the yard and wants to know how to manage them?

A. A harpoon type of trap can be used, but should be prepped ahead of installation. This trap tends to work best if you stomp on a run to determine if it is an active run.  If it gets pushed back up, it is an active run. Stomp on this area a couple of more times and then set the trap to ensure the mole moves through the area. For more information on moles, click here for a publication from UNL on moles.

3. This caller wants to know how to get rid of creeping charlie in a lawn?

A. Triclopyr or a 2,4-D product can be used in the fall. For best control, use the product twice in the fall 2-3 weeks apart. September 30th and October 15th would be good dates for application. This is a tough weed to control, so it will take multiple years of multiple applications. A spring application of either of these products can be used as well to knock the weeds back for this year.

4. When can you transplant daylilies? Can they be planted into an area on the east side of the house with rock mulch?

A. Wait a couple of weeks until mid-late April to transplant them when the temperatures have warmed up more. Also, as long as the area is receiving at least 6 hours of sunlight daylilies will grow fine. This is a tough plant that will grow well in most conditions.

5. A caller has strawberries that had botrytis last year. When should they be sprayed to prevent the disease this year?

A. Apply from 5-10% bloom until flowers have finished blooming. For more information see the Midwest Small Fruit and Grape Spray Guide from Midwest Universities including UNL.

6. This caller has a pear tree that last year had orange spots on the leaves later in the season. What is this and how can it be controlled?

A. This is due to a rust disease, Cedar-Hawthorn Rust. It is more common in years following a wet spring. The timing for management is in the spring, May and June. See this NebGuide on Cedar-apple rust and related rusts of apples and ornamentals.

7. A caller has started corn, watermelons, and cantaloupe indoors from seed. The seedlings are getting quite large. Can they be transplanted outdoors now?

A. Unfortunately it is still too cold to plant these crops outdoors. These are warm season crops that should not be planted until early May after the frost-free date. These crops could be direct seeded at that time or transplanted but they tend to not do well as a transplant.

8. A caller has 2-year-old rhubarb plants that have come up and have thin, limp stalks. What is wrong with the rhubarb?

A. This could be due to crown rot. Rhubarb is very sensitive to high moisture soils and will often develop a crown rot in these situations. Those plants that have limp stalks should be removed and you can replant in a new location where it has more well-drained soil.

Bagworm4

Bagworm

9. When and what should you spray for bagworms?

A. May-June is the time frame for treating bagworms. It is best to spray them when the new bags are 1/2-1 inches long. Longer than that and they won’t catch as much of the pesticide to die as well. For spray choices, any general insecticide will work, but using Bt would be the least damaging to other insects because Bt only affects insects in the Order of Lepidoptera which includes butterflies, moths, and skippers.

10. A caller has Asparagus that has a green moss-like structure growing on top of the ground around it. What is it and what can they do for it?

A. A picture would be helpful in identifying this pest. If it is actually a moss, they may look into the water in the area because it is likely that it is too wet. If it is a weed, pull or hoe the weed and then add a layer of mulch to prevent further weeds from coming in.

11. This caller wanted to know what to do to grow bigger onions and if they should put Epsom salt on their tomatoes to help them grow more?

A. These onions are growing 3 inches apart, they should be spaced out more for larger sized onions. Place plants or sets 1-6″ apart in the rows, and 12-24″ between rows. For bulb production, plant onions in early spring. The number of leaves that form prior to bulbing determine the ultimate onion size. Since bulbing in each cultivar is triggered by a specific daylength, early planting is the most effective method of increasing bulb size, by allowing more time for leaves to form. If the onions do not grow well before bulb induction, the final bulb size may be smaller than desired. Avoid sets more than ¾ inch in diameter because they are likely to produce seed stalks.

As for the Epsom salt on tomatoes, no you should not apply this to your soil when you plant tomatoes. Our soils have a sufficient amount of magnesium and sulfate, which are the 2 ingredients in Epsom salt, so there is no need to apply more. If you need fertilizer, use a general fertilizer from the nursery or garden center.

12. A caller has a Japanese maple that was injured last May when the leaves curled up and fell off. The leaves never regrew through the summer last year. Will it come out of it?

 A: If it happened that early in the year last year and didn’t put on new leaves, it may be dead. Give it time this spring to green up. You can check if the tree is still alive by scraping the bark on a branch, if there is green underneath it is still alive, if there is brown it is dead.

13. What can you do to manage windmill grass?

A: Windmill grass is a perennial weed. You can use roundup and overseed or use a product containing mesotrione or Tenacity that will not harm your turf. Use the Tenacity in the late spring.

14. This caller wanted to know what to use for a pre-emergent herbicide in a strawberry patch?

A: Preen that is labeled for use in a vegetable garden would be allowed in a strawberry patch. The best control for weeds in strawberries would be to use mulch.

15. Can you use plants to repel insects?

A: Some plants may deter a few insects for a short time, but no, the plants are not concentrated enough to work against the insect pests.

16. A caller has an arborvitae that turned brown on the North side last fall. Will it be ok?

A: This could be due to bagworms or due to environmental stress. Arborvitae trees don’t like the sudden cool down in the fall and it can cause part or all of the plant to die quickly. Unfortunately, if the tree has turned brown all the way back into the trunk, the tree will not regrow on that section. Removal and replacement may be a better option for this plant.

17. This caller wanted to know when they can reseed their lawn and with what?

A: Mid to late April is the best time to reseed a lawn in Southeast Nebraska. Reseed with 100% Turf-type tall fescue or 100% Kentucky bluegrass or a 50% mix of each.

Squash bug-NH-pic monkey

18. A caller asked what to do about squash bugs in their vegetable garden?

A: Fall sanitation and cleaning up the garden will help a lot to reduce the eggs in the soil around your garden. When they do start coming out in the summer, you can use sevin, eight, or bifenthrin to control them. You will have to spray every 10-14 days through the growing season. Watch the Pre-Harvest Interval to know when you can harvest after spraying a chemical on your plants. You can also smash or remove the eggs you see which are tiny, football-shaped bronze colored eggs on the underside of the leaves typically found in the crotch of the leaf veins.

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 trimec  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: May 8, 2015

Yard and Garden Green Logo

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for May 8, 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: Graham Herbst, Community Forester with the Nebraska Forest Service

1. This caller has pampas grass growing in her yard that last winter had problems with winterkill. What would be a good alternative ornamental grass she could plant?

A: Pampas grass had a lot of problems with winterkill last spring due to the dry, cold, windy winter conditions we faced in the winter of 2013-2014. Pampas grass is on the edge of its hardiness zone in Nebraska, but there are many other options for native grasses here. Maidenhair grass, or Miscanthus, is a great choice for a large native grass and it has many varieties to choose many different qualities. Big Bluestem and Little bluestem are great native choices, as well as switchgrass, sideoats grama, and many more. Ornamental grasses give us winter interest and habitat and food for wildlife during the winter months.

2. A caller had a sewer that was dug out and filled with soil. She then seeded new turfgrass on the area that has come up and is growing well. This spring the area sunk back down 6 inches. What can she do to level this area out?

A: You can remove the grass from that area, gathering 4-6 inches of soil and roots with it. Add soil to bring that back up to level with the surrounding lawn, and replace the grass piece back on top. Keep this grass well-watered until it becomes established, it will act like a piece of sod. The other option would be to back fill the location with soil and reseed the area with turf seed.

3. A caller has orange odd-looking structures hanging off of her cedar trees. What is this? Will it harm the tree?

Winter gall of Cedar-apple rust.

Winter gall of Cedar-apple rust.

A: These would be the galls from a disease called cedar-apple rust. This disease requires 2 hosts to complete its lifecycle, a cedar and an apple or something else in the Malus family such as a pear or crabapple. This disease overwinters on cedar trees as a hard, brown, odd-shaped structure on the branches and with spring rains they open up to look like orange, gelatinous, galls that are reminiscent of an orange octopus. This is when the spores are spreading to the apple trees. This disease causes no real damage to cedar trees, but on apple trees it causes lesions on the apples and leaf spots. Here is a NebGuide on Cedar-Apple Rust.

4. This caller has 3 apple trees and this winter one of them has not bloomed nor leafed out. Is the tree dead?

A: Check the tree for living tissue by scraping the bark off to expose green or brown tissue underneath. If it is green, it is still alive, if it is brown it is dead. Also check the branches for flexibility, if they bend they are still alive if the break they are dead. Give the tree a few more weeks to see if it comes out of it later this spring.

5. This caller has moles in their yard. How can they be controlled?

A: Moles can be controlled with traps. These traps will euthanize the mole in the hole to be left behind after control has been achieved. These have the best effect if the mound is pushed down 2-3 times prior to placing the trap in the hole, this will show if the tunnel is an active one before the trap is placed in it. Here is a guide from the Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management on Mole Control.

6. This caller has voles in their yard. How can they be controlled?

A: Voles are controlled with snap traps that we typically use for mice. Place 2 traps in the run from the voles, or the area where the grass is damaged. Place the traps perpendicular to the runs and place them facing in different directions in the run. So, for a vole run that goes North to South, place one trap facing east and one facing west. Here is a guide from the Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management on Vole Control.

7. This gentleman had used Scotts liquid turf builder on his lawn and it is not working to green up the lawn or to reduce the weeds found in his lawn. He also has a zoysiagrass lawn that is not growing as well in some portions of his lawn as it has in the past. What would be causing these problems and how can he improve these?

A: Broadleaf weeds are best controlled in the fall so it is best to apply a broadleaf weed killer, such as 2,4-D, 2 times in the fall, such as September 30 and October 15. Even in the spring, some control can be achieved, but they will require more than one application as they are tough weeds to kill. The zoysiagrass may have experienced some winterkill so it might be wise to take plugs from the area of the lawn where it is growing well and move them into areas of the lawn where it is not growing so well.

8. This caller has ash trees that are getting oval-shaped holes in them and ants on the trunk of the tree. Did the ants do this to the tree? How can it be managed?

A: These ants are probably carpenter ants. Carpenter ants do not harm your trees, they will just burrow into wood that has already begun to decay for some other reason. Carpenter ants on a tree do not require treatment. The holes are most likely due to native borers of the ash tree, such as red-headed ash tree borers or ash-lilac borer. These borers can be controlled with a trunk spray with chemicals such as sevin or eight or apply a soil drench with an imidacloprid product around the base of the trunk. This doesn’t sound like it is Emerald Ash Borer because the holes from EAB are D-shaped, not rounded or oval.

9. This caller has an ash tree and wants to know when he should treat it? He has heard that it takes up to 5 years for the systemic insecticides to move throughout the tree into the canopy, if this is true should he treat now.

A: Systemic insecticides take only a couple of weeks to move throughout the entire tree and they only last for 1 or 2 years depending on which chemical is used. It is best to wait until Emerald Ash Borer gets within 15 miles of the tree before treatment begins because treatments are costly, damaging to the tree, and not necessary until the borer gets closer. Trunk injections wound the tree and after repeated years of treatments it causes a great deal of stress to the tree, so there is no need to treat and harm the tree prior to when it is necessary.