Yard & Garden: June 5, 2020

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for June 5, 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 show would like to know when the proper time is to spray for bagworms?

A. After they have hatched, which is different every year, based on temperatures. It is typically around the middle of June. This week, the UNL Entomology department reported that bagworms have hatched in the Lincoln and Omaha area so if they haven’t hatched in Southeast Nebraska yet, they likely will in a week or so. We should be in the spray window for the next few weeks.

2. A caller has large trees in her yard that are shedding large amounts of leaves recently. What is causing this? Will the tree be ok?

A. This could be from a variety of factors. In some cases, the trees may have put on a large flush of leaves this spring. With the extreme heat and humidity recently, they dropped the extra leaves. They could also be leaves that have a minor leaf spot disease that has caused a large amount to drop off. Either way, the trees are still in good health with a full canopy of leaves and should be fine for future growth.

3. When can a large hosta be divided?

A. At this point for the year, it would be best to wait until next spring. It is now hot and windy so it would be very hard for the plant to tolerate being divided and replanted. Hostas are best divided in the spring before hot weather but after they have emerged well.

4. This caller has potato plants growing and now the edges of the leaves are curling up and turning brown. What is wrong with them?

A. The caller is watering his potatoes correctly, but does not use mulch. This could be one of two fungal diseases brown leaf spot or early leaf blight. Fungicides such as mancozeb or chlorothalonil can be used to control this, but the wet weather recently is likely the reason it is showing up. Mulching the plants will also help so that the spores don’t splash from the soil back up to the leaves of the plant. Be sure to clean up the garden at the end of the year and rotate the potatoes around to different areas of the garden each year.

2019-06-07 10.05.02
Herbicide injury on Tomato

5. A caller has tomatoes that the top leaves are tight and deformed. What is causing this and do they need to be replanted?

A. This is likely from herbicide drift, it is hard to say for sure without seeing the plants, but it sounds most like herbicide drift. This has started to become a problem again this year due to the change in weather. As we warm up, we see more problems with 2,4-D and dicamba products that turn to a gas and move to non-target plants. 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.

6. This caller grew cucumber plants last year and the vines took over her small garden. Can she cut them back to keep them away from her other plants?

A. Yes, the vines can be cut to reduce the growth slightly. I wouldn’t cut too much off because that can reduce the yields. It might be better for her to use a bush cucumber in future years that will not spread as far. She can also try using a trellis to have the cucumbers grow up rather than out.

7. A caller has sapling trees growing up in her chain link fence. What can she do to kill them?

A. These should be cut off and treated with a stump treatment, painting a herbicide on the freshly cut stump. Roundup would be the best to use in this heat and around other plants. She asked about using a brush killer and this can be used, but shouldn’t be used too close to desired plants. Always read and follow the label when using pesticides

8. This caller was curious if bagworms would run their natural course and if he would be able to quit spraying his trees eventually?

A. Unfortunately, bagworms are here to stay. They will never fully go away. Bagworms, like all insects, go through peaks and valleys in their population and right now we are nearing the peak. This means we have very high populations that are doing damage to our plants. When the bagworm population drops, you may be able to discontinue spraying for a few years if the population isn’t large in your trees. For now, you will want to spray with the high populations.

9. What are the orange things on the cedars and what plants will they damage?

A. These are the galls of cedar-apple rust. This disease needs 2 hosts to complete its lifecycle. The galls are hard, gray/brown structures on the cedar trees over the winter. In the spring, when it rains, these galls open up to allow the spores to move to the apple trees. When the galls open up they are orange structures that resemble an octopus due to all the telial horns around the gall. The disease causes no problems to the cedar trees, but will cause lesions on the leaves and fruits of apple trees. If you have a susceptible apple tree, now is the time to spray with a fungicide to prevent the disease from affecting your tree. For more information, view this NebGuide.

10. Is there any reason to spray fruit trees this year since the blossoms all froze and no fruit will develop?

A. It wouldn’t be necessary, if you want to take a year off of spraying. The trees will still develop some damage on the leaves, but it shouldn’t kill the tree. For fruit trees in Nebraska, you can either spray throughout the entire summer to combat all the problems or you can not spray and have some problems. If there will be no fruit, it wouldn’t be necessary to spray the tree.

11. A caller has an old rose that bloomed but now the leaves look to be drying up. What is wrong with it?

A. It is hard to tell for sure without seeing the plant. There are a few different fungal diseases that could be affecting the roses now after all the rain we have seen recently. It may also be that the plants were shocked by the sudden onset of hot, humid, windy environmental conditions after the cool spring. They could also have damage from rose slugs, which are out right now. He also said they are surrounded by brome grass which could be causing competition issues. Most of these problems will fade on their own. If it is a fungal disease, there are rose specific fungicides that can be used. Rose slugs are minor problems and will go away as fast as they appeared, without chemicals.

12. The final question of the day was a caller who had planted a butterfly milkweed. overnight it was pulled out of the ground so he replanted it and it was again uprooted the next night. What is causing this? It is only on the new butterfly milkweed plant.

A. I assume this is damage from a squirrel or other type of wildlife. The best defense against wildlife damage would be to put a fence around the plants being damaged. There would be nothing else that would be very effective, or proven to work through research, in this case.

 

Yard & Garden: May 29, 2020

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for May 29, 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 show has tomato plants that now is developing “skinny” leaves. What is wrong with them?

A. The leaves are skinny and deformed. This is likely from herbicide drift, it is hard to say for sure without seeing the plants, but it sounds most like herbicide drift. This has started to become a problem again this year due to the change in weather. As we warm up, we see more problems with 2,4-D and dicamba products that turn to a gas and move to non-target plants. 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. This caller has a very large hosta. When can it be divided?

A. Early spring is the best time to divide hostas, once they have emerged from the ground but before the heat of the summer. It might be a little late to divide the plants this year due to the hot weather expected next week. If they are divided now, be sure to keep them well watered.

3. When can oaks and maples be pruned?

A. The new pruning recommendations show that pruning is best if done in late spring, so late May to early June for Nebraska. Now would be a good time for most trees, however, oaks are susceptible to oak wilt if pruned during the summer months. It is best to wait until fall, September or October, to prune oak trees to avoid this disease. Maples, can have a heavy sap flow in the spring, they can be pruned now, but may leak sap, sometimes large quantities. They would be better to prune in the fall also.

4. A caller was going to use Grass-B-Gon on some weeds she recently hand-pulled to reduce the hand-pulling in the future. How long should the regrowth be before she applies the grass killing product to her landscape beds?

A. As long as you start to see some new, green regrowth, the product should work. According to the label, it should be applied anytime weeds are actively growing, which would be when you see them green up again around your landscape plants.

5. This caller is on her second round of planting tomatoes and they are turning yellow again. She planted the first in late April and then again recently. In the new planting one plant is starting to turn yellow. She is using straw mulch on most of the plants but is using grass mulch on the one plant that is turning yellow. What is wrong with her plants?

A. The first round of plants were planted too soon and we saw quite a bit of cold weather later in the season this year than many other years. She did cover the plants on the sides, but left the top exposed. Frost would have settled down onto the plants and killed them. The new plants are doing fine except the one plant that has grass clippings on it. The lawn has been treated with broadleaf weed control as well as crabgrass control this year. The labels will tell you not to use the clippings on the garden for the season or for a period of time. If that isn’t being followed and this is the one plant that is looking bad, I would assume that the grass clippings are the problem. Be sure to use clean grass clippings or use straw for all of the plants.

6. A caller pulled 3 mature barberry bushes with a pickup truck and then decided to replant them after all. What should be done to keep them alive? Should they be fertilized?

A. Pulling these plants out with a pickup truck and chains would have drastically damaged the cambium layer which can reduce the flow of water and other nutrients through the plant. They were also kept out of the ground for a week before being replanted. These plants could pull through if they are tough, but you will need to make sure they are kept moderately watered. Don’t overwater, but don’t allow the plants to dry out either. A slow trickle for about 10 minutes a couple of times per week will help to rebuild the roots. Do not fertilize them. Fertilizing a stressed plant can further stress the plant. Only time will tell if they can survive.

7. This caller has lilacs that are looking bad and didn’t bloom well. What can be done to help them? When can they be pruned?

A. Sounds like this lilac is in need of a rejuvenation pruning. This is where you cut the plant off about 6-8 inches above the ground level to rejuvenate the growth. It will reduce insect problems and push new, young growth to provide better blooming and have a healthier plant. This can be done in the fall for best results.

8. A caller had bagworms on her cedars last year. She also noticed a lot of praying mantis egg cases, she knows they are a good predator.  Are the praying mantis’ helping to control the bagworms?

A. Praying mantis’ are not a major predator of bagworms. They prefer feeding on aphids and others.

She also wondered about her forsythia that was injured by the late frost this year. It didn’t bloom this year and she had to cut back some of the branches. Will it bloom next year now or did this damage the blooms for next year as well?

A. The blossoms are set on the new growth that will form this summer. As long as they are pruned back within about 3 weeks after their bloom period, they will still bloom next year. This is why we prune forsythia just after they bloom rather than in the late winter. This forsythia should still bloom next year.

She had one final question, how can she control a clover-type weed growing profusely in her iris beds?

A. This will be difficult to do without harming the iris plants. She could spray with Roundup using a piece of cardboard as a barrier between the weeds and the iris plants or she could use the “glove of death”. This is when you wear a chemical-resistant glove and then put a cloth glove over that. Then, dip a few fingers of the gloved hand into Glyphosate and rub those fingers along the stem and leaves of the bindweed to kill it.

9. What can be done to control elm saplings in a windbreak?

A. You can go through and cut off the trees and follow that up with a stump treatment using either 2,4-D or a glyphosate product, such as Roundup. The Roundup would be better this late into the year to avoid volatilization issues from the 2,4-D in the heat. 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.

10. A caller planted grass in the spring. It is getting to about 2 inches tall now. When can he spray the weeds coming in with the grass?

A. You should wait until after 3 times mowing the new lawn before any herbicides should be applied to the grass to avoid injury. However, by that time, it will be too hot to use any 2,4-D products, which will turn into a gas and move to non-target plants and injure them in temperatures above 80-85 degrees. It would be better to just wait it out and spray in the fall to manage the weeds after the turf is more established. The fall is a better time to treat for perennial broadleaf weeds because it is when the plant is taking nutrients back into the root system and it will take more of the herbicide with it. Spray twice in the fall, once in mid-September and again in early to mid-October.

11. This caller has a hydrangea that didn’t look like it was going to live through the late frosts this spring. She did notice that it is finally coming up but it is only about 3 inches tall and is setting blossoms on. Should she remove those or let the plant bloom at such a small size?

A. It would be best to remove those blooms to allow the plant to grow a bit more before trying to bloom. All the energy in that plant would push into flower production, at such a small size, it would be best to allow the plant to build leaves and the root system to help it so it comes back next year.

12. A caller wants to know what to do to keep iris blooms from falling over?

A. Sometimes if the flower is too heavy it can fall over a bit. There are metal rings you can purchase to put in flower beds around plants that fall over to keep them upright, but nothing else will work for this. The flower is just too heavy for the stalk.

13. If branches on a tree or shrub are already dead can they be pruned off now?

A. Yes, dead branches should be removed as soon as they are noticed to prevent injury or damage from a falling branch.

14. The final call of the show asked if they should be fertilizing lilacs that were planted 3 years ago?

A. Fertlilizer doesn’t need to be used on plants that are growing just fine. Most trees and shrubs can get the nutrients they need to survive from our soils. The best thing is to do a soil test prior to adding any soil amendments, nutrients can build up to a too high level which can also damage the plant.

*Reference to commercial products or trade names does not imply endorsement by Nebraska Extension or bias against those not mentioned.

Yard & Garden: May 22, 2020

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for May 22, 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 show wants to know how much manure he should apply on his garden?

A. Manure should not be applied to a garden during the growing season. For food safety reasons, it should only be applied in the fall. The guidelines recommend waiting 120 days after adding manure before vegetables should be harvested from the garden if the edible portion of the plants come into contact with the soil. If fertilizer is necessary, general fertilizers for a garden would be sufficient. If unsure how much to add, a soil test should be done so that you don’t apply too much fertilizer.

2. This caller wants to know if castor beans are poisonous? She is mainly concerned for her dog who may eat the plant if she plants it.

A. Yes, the seeds of castor beans are poisonous. If she can ensure to pull the bean pods off throughout the season, it should be ok. However, it would be best to double check with her vet to be sure for the dog’s safety.

3. Is it too late to plant potatoes? How about sweet potatoes?

A. It is getting a bit late to plant potatoes for this year. Sweet potatoes are still fine to plant, though. They should be planted in mid-May to early June for best success.

4. A caller has an Empress clematis that is not blooming after 3 years of growth. Why is that?

A. This could be from cold weather damaging the blooms. If the blossoms were just about ready to open up as the snow came or cold temperatures, it could have injured them. It does take a few years for the flowering to reach its full potential, so that could be part of it as well. Finally, make sure that the clematis is not getting too much Nitrogen fertilizer overflow from a lawn. Too much nitrogen can make the plant very healthy but not produce flowers.

5. This caller is looking for a plant to place on the south and west sides of a brick house that only get 1-2 feet wide. What can be planted in this location?

A. This is a difficult location due to the heat, it is in full sun and will receive reflective heat from the brick house. Also, the size will be hard to fit into. She could look at some sedums, there are some smaller varieties and they like hot, dry locations. Salvia may be ok, but it would have to be pinched back through the summer to keep the plants smaller. Daylilies also could work, but may grow too large. Missouri primrose or penstemons could be a smaller choice that would grow well in this location.

6. A caller has cedars that have poison ivy and virginia creeper, also called woodbine, growing up through the trees. What can he do to control the vines?

A. You can’t spray the vines as they are growing on the cedars, it will harm or possibly kill the cedars. It is best to cut them off near the ground and then treat the stump with a brush killer. Do not use Tordon, it is not labeled for use there and it can spread to the roots of the cedars. If you cannot get to the poison ivy or are highly sensitive to the plants, you may want to call a lawn spray company to spray it for you to keep you from developing a rash.

7. This caller started tomatoes inside and they have now been transplanted into the garden but the bottom couple of leaves are turning yellow. What is causing this?

A. This is likely due to environmental conditions. It has been cool for tomatoes. As long as the top of the plant is maintaining healthy, green leaves, the plants should be fine. If the bottom leaves die back, they can be removed.

8. A caller has noticed that the bagworms are just emerging from their bags and it looks like they have started to chew on the needles of his trees. Should he wait a little longer to spray them or should he do it now?

A. Give them a little more time to ensure that all have hatched before spraying. If you spray too soon, you will miss those that are later to hatch. Watch for very small bags to begin to form on the tree, that is a good time to start spraying, before the bags are more than 1/2 inch in length.

9. This caller has a weeping willow tree that is 4 years old and still isn’t growing well, it is planted in full sun. What is wrong with it?

A. Be patient, it may take a little while to get over the transplant shock. Also, be more diligent when watering the tree. It should be watered once a week with a slow trickle for about 20-30 minutes. If the tree isn’t receiving this, it could be part of the problem.

10. Why are the peonies not blooming yet? They usually are blooming by now.

A. The cold weather is pushing back their bloom time. Also, the snow or freezing temperatures in late April to early May could have damaged the buds. Give them time to bloom a little later this year.

11. A caller has tomatoes that were damaged in the freeze this year. The leaves wilted and fell off but the stalk is still green. Will they come back or should they be replanted?

A. It would be best to replant. Those plants have no leaves to build sugars to grow, it is likely that they won’t live through this.

12. When should you stop harvesting asparagus?

A. When the spears start to get very spindly, it is best to stop harvesting your asparagus. Also, the spears will start developing the ferns quickly on those spindly spears, that is another indication to stop harvesting to allow the plants to grow for the rest of the season.

2014-04-23 10.45.50
Winterkill on Arborvitae

13. The last question of the show this week was from a man who is struggling to get American arborvitae to grow here. He planted some last year, some more this spring, and is watering every day but some are not greening up. What is the problem?

A. Watering could be an issue. Rather than just watering each tree a short period of time every day, it would be better to water slowly for longer periods of time, but less often. We need to encourage the roots of the trees to grow deep for best longevity. Water the trees once a week for 15-20 minutes each time would be better. Also, add mulch around the trees to help with competition and root growth. Some of these trees may have had issues with winter desiccation, which is common in arborvitae trees. Watering over the winter, once a month on warmer days, will help them get through. Evergreen trees still transpire through the winter, if transpiration is more than the water they take in through their roots, desiccation can occur. Anti-desiccant products can be sprayed on the trees through the winter to help as well.

*Reference to commercial products or trade names does not imply endorsement by Nebraska Extension or bias against those not mentioned.

Yard & Garden: May 15, 2020

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for May 15, 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 show wants to know how to plant the flowering plants he received from the Lower Big Blue NRD in Beatrice on the show last week? How far apart to space them and what type of growing environment should they be planted in?

A. Give the plants plenty of space, they are all large shrubs or small trees. The selection included Nanking cherry, redosier dogwood, lilac, crabapple, and caragana. They all need at least 8 feet of width and height. They all take full sun, but the redosier or red twig dogwood can take part shade. They could be planted on the interior of a windbreak to add to it or throughout a landscape.

2. A caller received a hydrangea plant as a gift for Mother’s Day. The flowers are now droopy. Should it be planted outside or what can be done to improve the flowers?

A. Yes, plant it outdoors. It can be planted in a container, but that would need to be protected over the winter months. Otherwise, plant it outdoors in part sun. The plant may also be finishing up the bloom period for this year, so remove those spent blossoms when they begin to turn brown.

3. This caller has iris borer. Should she dig up the plants now to remove the highly infected, mushy areas?

A. Leave them for now but clean out the mushy rhizomes as much as you can and spray the plants with an imidacloprid product to kill the larvae. Dig up the plants in the fall and clean them out. Next spring spray the plants earlier to prevent more damage. Also, be sure to clean off the dead leaves in the fall, this will destroy their overwintering location.

4. A caller has strawberries with a leaf spot disease. What can be done with them? He is already harvesting.

A. To prevent further spread and reduce diseases in the future, use soaker hoses to water rather than watering over the top of the plants. Also, make sure you have mulch around the plants which can also help reduce the spread of diseases. Captan can be used through the season for leaf spot disease. Spray every 10 days through the season, next year start before they begin to bloom. Be sure to follow the PHI listed on the product for strawberries. The PHI is the Pre-Harvest Interval, the amount of time to wait after applying a chemical before harvesting.

5. A caller has cedar-apple rust on his cedars that is harming them and causing the branches to turn orange. What can he do for it?

A. Cedar-apple rust is not damaging to cedar trees. If the branches are becoming covered in orange, it could be cedar-quince rust which can cause problems on cedar trees. You can spray the trees with Captan, Daconil, or Mancozeb to treat cedar-quince rust.

6. This caller has beans and popcorn that was planted from seed a while ago but it has not sprouted yet. Why is that?

A. It has been too cold for them yet. The soil temperatures are hovering just below 60 degrees and most of our warm season plants need at least 60 degree soil temperatures to grow well. Give them time, they should sprout in the next week or so as the weather warms up more.

7. A caller has Elephant Ear that was in the garage over the winter. She planted it in a lick tub before the last weekend with the cold temperatures. It has not yet sprouted, will it be ok or is it likely done?

A. It is still quite chilly for something like an elephant ear. Even though the plant had not yet emerged before the frost events last weekend, the lick tub may not have protected it enough since it is a bulb that needs to be dug up every year. Give it time, it might be ok though. It is hard to tell for sure yet.

8. This caller has wild violets in her yard. She had it treated twice in the fall and they are still coming up. What can be done about that?

A. Wild violets are very difficult to manage. They cannot be eliminated in a single treatment or even in multiple treatments in one year. It will take time and reapplications to really knock them back. 2 applications in the fall will be most effective. Apply a 2,4-D product in mid-September and again in mid-October for best control. Because we don’t know when the lawn was sprayed, or exactly what was spryed on it, it is hard to tell for sure why the plants are still so bad. Diligence with this plant would be best.

She also wanted to know how to control nutsedge in her lawn.

A. Nutsedge can be controlled with a sedge-specific chemical such as sedgehammer or sedge ender among others. Apply these chemicals before the longest day of the year, June 21st, to help reduce the population for next year. It isn’t a preemergence herbicide, but it will reduce the growth for future seasons.

Her final question was how to control weeds through the summer in an area that she has planned to overseed this fall?

A. Keep mowing the area will help reduce the flower and seed production through the year. She can continually spray roundup on the area throughout the summer to keep them down as well. Spray the Roundup 2 weeks ahead of overseeding to help kill it off before planting. She could use mesotrione, found in Tenacity, at seeding to help with weeds and not harm the seeding.

9. Why are the peonies not blooming yet?

A. With all of the cold weather we have had, it has slowed the growth of plants such as peonies. They are behind their normal blooming time for the year due to the snow and frost so late this spring. Give them time to flower a little later. They likely will not bloom by Memorial Day this year because of how cold it has been this spring. However, depending on the stage of development of the flowers when the snow and frost occurred, the blooms may have been damaged and may not open up this year. Give the plants time to recover into mid-June before giving up on the blossoms.

10. This caller is trying to grow rhubarb. It will start growing in the spring but then just stops growing larger and isn’t getting very large stalks. What is the problem?

A. It might be good to try a soil test to see how the soil nutrient levels and pH are where the plants are growing. You could try some fertilizer to help it grow larger. These plants were purchased from a flea market, from another grower, it might be that the plants were older and maybe not as productive. Try to start a new patch with new plants purchased from a nursery or garden center.

japanese beetle JAK582
Japanese Beetle, Image from Jim Kalisch, Retired from UNL Entomology

11. A caller has linden trees that had a problem with Japanese beetles last year. What can be done to control them this year?

A. After they have finished blooming, the trees can be sprayed with bifenthrin or chlorantraniliprole. Make sure you can get to the top of the tree for best control. He may need to call an arborist to spray the trees more thoroughly. Treating the yard for grubs can help. Don’t put a trap in your yard, this just brings more in from the surrounding locations.

12. This caller is wondering why her iris’ are not blooming? The plants of the same variety are blooming on one side of her house but not the other. Why is that?

A. The cooler weather is causing many of our plants to slow down or not bloom when they normally would be blooming. If the iris are blooming on one side of the house and not the other, and they are the same variety, this could be due to the microclimate on the sides of the house. One side may warm up sooner in the day causing those plants to warm up more and bloom sooner. Maybe the wind is hitting the one side more causing those plants to stay cooler longer. Give them time, they should all bloom eventually.

She also wondered why her celery is yellow. Is it due to the cold damage or is she overwatering?

A. It could be due to the cold weather. She is watering every other day for 2 hours per day with a sprinkler, this could be too much water. Monitor how much water is actually applied during that time by using a catch can. Vegetable gardens need about 1 inch of water per week. I would assume this celery is getting more than that.

13. Why are there so many seed stalks in the rhubarb plants this year?

A. The cold temperatures this spring are unusual and have “confused” the plants. This has pushed the plants to produce seed stalks. When rhubarb plants begin to produce seed stalks they push their energy into seed production and not into leaf and stalk production. To push that energy back into the stalk production we desire from rhubarb, cut the seed stalks off of the plant.

14. The final caller of the day has onions that are turning white and falling over. He didn’t cover them in the freezing weather last weekend. Is it cold weather injury that is causing this damage?

A. It is likely that this is from the cold temperatures. Even onions can be injured by temperatures in the low 30’s like what we saw. If there is green in the lower leaves, they might regrow.

*Reference to commercial products or trade names does not imply endorsement by Nebraska Extension or bias against those not mentioned.

Yard & Garden: May 8, 2020

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for May 8, 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 show has shrubs that bloomed this spring, when can they be pruned?

A. Any shrub that blooms in the spring should be pruned within about 3 weeks following the spring bloom period. This would include plants like lilac, forsythia, and the spring blooming spireas.

2. A caller heard me discussing the need to cover tender annuals for the next few nights with the cold temperatures predicted. Do those need to be uncovered during the day or can the cover just stay on for the next few days? Does she need to cover her wisteria or strawberries that are just beginning to bloom?

A. The plants that should be covered are annuals and tender perennials, this includes the warm season crops that have already been planted in your garden this year. You can cover them with a sheet, a row cover, or a bucket. They should only be covered at night. In the morning, when the temperatures warm up above 40 degrees, the coverings should be removed to allow the plants to receive sunlight. Perennials, including wisteria, should be fine. Strawberries that have blossoms set would push new flowers and fruit later but if you don’t want to lose this first crop, you may put a row cover or sheet over the plants to protect the developing fruits.

3. This caller has a flowering tree that is suckering in the lawn. How can they control the suckers without harming the tree?

A. If these are growing in the yard, they can just be mowed over and will eventually die but not harm the tree. You can also cut the suckers off individually, if desired. Don’t treat these with any herbicides like roundup because it can go into the main tree and kill that as well. While some products, such as Sucker Stop are available, these will only slow sucker growth; not stop it. Some trees and shrubs are more prone to suckering. For example, crabapples, purple leafed plums and lilac.

4. A caller has 3 acres of bare area to manage. What is the best or cheapest options for him regarding grass or some other type of covering?

A. Native grass or pollinator or wildlife mixes would be a great option for this type of location. You can purchase seed at many locations including Anderson Seed from Odell or Stock Seed Farms from Murdock.

5. This caller has black spots on her grass that have recently showed up. She wasn’t sure the type of grass but most likely it was Kentucky bluegrass.

A. It is hard to tell for sure what the problem is from the description given. I asked for a photo to be emailed to know for sure.

cedar-apple rust gall
Cedar-apple rust gall on Cedar Tree

6. A caller has cedars that have developed odd orange structures on the branches. What is that and how can it be controlled?

A. These are the galls of cedar-apple rust. This disease needs 2 hosts to complete its lifecycle. The galls are hard, gray/brown structures on the cedar trees over the winter. In the spring, when it rains, these galls open up to allow the spores to move to the apple trees. When the galls open up they are orange structures that resemble an octopus due to all the telial horns around the gall. The disease causes no problems to the cedar trees, but will cause lesions on the leaves and fruits of apple trees. If you have a susceptible apple tree, now is the time to spray with a fungicide to prevent the disease from affecting your tree. For more information, view this NebGuide.

7. This caller has asparagus growing. This is the 4th or 5th year of growth. He has fertilized often but not this spring. He did use a weed and feed on the asparagus, but asparagus wasn’t listed on the label. Why is his asparagus growing so spindly?

A. As we harvest, eventually the spears will start to get spindly which means that is the time to quit harvesting for the year. However, the weed and feed product may have some negative consequences on this plant. He didn’t know what exactly the product was that he used but he said it didn’t have asparagus listed on the label. In this case, the product should NOT be used on the asparagus. Make sure to always read and follow the label on pesticides and only use it on plants listed on the label.

8. A caller has planted potatoes a couple of different times this year, but they continue to not sprout. What would be the problem?

A. The weather has been fairly cool, and especially cold overnight. The plants are just waiting for more desirable weather before growing. Give them a little more time and they should grow as long as a disease doesn’t set in or they rot in the ground.

9. If volunteer redbuds have come up throughout a landscape, can they still be moved to a more desired location this year or is it too late?

A. Yes, they can still be moved now. As long as they are moved prior to the hot, dry environment of late June through July and August, they should be fine.

10. What is the best way to manage weeds around asparagus?

A. Mulch is the best option to keep weeds down around asparagus. You can use the preen that has asparagus listed on the label to control annual weeds. Otherwise hand-pulling will help keep them down as well. At the last harvest of the season cut down all the spears, so there’s no foliage or anything above the ground. Rake the soil over the top of the spears. Then spray the plants with glyphosate (RoundUp). Glyphosate becomes bound by the soil particles when it hits them, so will not damage the crowns below ground. This will control annuals and tough perennial weeds. The spears will then re-emerge from the soil and not be damaged by the glyphosate at all. Apply some mulch to help with the weed control, then Preen.

11. This caller gets little brown spots on the leaves of her cucumber plants every year. This often will kill her plants over time. Is there anything she can do to control this so her plants will survive longer?

A. Using mulch and watering at the base of the plants with soaker hoses will help. Overhead irrigation, such as with sprinklers, can splash disease spores from the soil to the leaves of our plants or from leaf to leaf or plant to plant. Watering from below helps reduce the spores splashing. Mulch also helps to keep the separation from the soil where the spores are. Fungicides, such as a copper fungicide, could also be used if desired. Make sure that cucumbers are listed on the product and follow the PHI (Pre-Harvest Interval) for length of days to wait from application to harvest.

12. A caller has spiny vines growing up the trees in her windbreak. How can she kill the vines and not harm the trees?

A. You can go through and cut off the vines 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. When cutting the vines off at the base, they will stay in the tree but they will die because they have no roots. Treating the base of the plants will kill the roots to eliminate the problem with regrowth.

13. This caller has a patch of asparagus is not doing well this year. He recently piled logs nearby the patch. Would those logs be causing a problem with the growth of the asparagus? The logs are about 3 feet from the asparagus.

A. The logs shouldn’t be causing a problem from that distance, there isn’t black walnut in the wood piled there. It may just be that the asparagus needs to be fertilized. A general fertilizer can be applied in the spring to help with growth. If the spears are getting spindly now, harvesting should be discontinued. The plant will tell you when to quit harvesting based on the size of spears.

14. A caller has cucumbers, zucchini, and potatoes that have just emerged their first leaves. Should those be covered this weekend with the cold weather that is predicted? Would peonies need to be covered?

A. Yes, those warm season crops that have very tender new growth should be covered for the next few evenings. Remember to uncover them during the day. The peonies should be fine, but a freeze could damage the developing flower buds depending on how cold it gets, how long it stays that cold, and how far developed the buds are.

15. This caller asked how to spray her apple trees to prevent problems with insect and disease problems.

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.

16. The final caller of the show has a concolor fir that the needles on the bottom third of the tree have turned brown. What is causing this problem?

A. It was hard to determine the problem with this fir over the air. I asked for follow-up photos to help diagnose the problem.

 

Yard & Garden: May 1, 2020

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for May 1, 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 has a plant that comes up in his grass, he calls it onion weed. They have tried 2,4-D products but it is still alive and keeps coming back and spreading. What is it and how can it be controlled?

A. This is likely wild garlic or wild onion due to the onion/garlic smell of the leaves when you break them. They are very difficult to control in the lawn. Multiple application of post-emergence herbicides such as Roundup or 2,4-D products. If using the roundup you will need to reseed the area as roundup will kill all plants, including the turf. You can also dig them up as you see the patches appear. It is best to mow just prior to spraying but not mow for a couple of weeks after spraying.

2. This caller has something that is boring holes in his yard. There are a bunch of holes in the yard that are 1 inch in diameter with very fine soil around the holes. What would cause this?

A. There are a few options for this. He wasn’t sure how deep the holes went but didn’t see any runs in the lawn around the holes. Without a few images of the damage it is too difficult to give a definitive answer.

3. Is it too late to start spraying peach trees for insect and disease damage?

A. To have a peach tree on a spray schedule with an Orchard Home Fruit Tree spray, it is best to start when the buds begin to open up and show pink behind the sepals. Then, you would spray every 10-14 days through the growing season except during the bloom period. This will help with insects and diseases. If you didn’t get started before the bloom, you can start now that the tree has finished blooming.

4. A caller has hostas that have grown very large and thick. Can they be divided?

A. Yes, now would be a good time to dig them up and divide them. They can be divided in half, thirds, or quarters depending on the size of the plant. After they have been divided, replant them, make sure to space them out correctly. Keep them well-watered once replanted because they will have a limited root system.

5. This caller is curious about catchweed bedstraw and what to do about it.

A. This weed is found throughout our landscapes. It is a winter annual weed like henbit. It can be pulled very easily because it has a very shallow root system. You can also spray it with a 2,4-D product or Roundup.

6. A caller is wanting to plant tulips in his landscape under a tree. Would this be a good location for them and do you need a lot to get good coverage under the tree?

A. Yes, tulips will grow well under trees but you do have to plant a lot to get a good effect from them. They should be planted in the fall, such as early October.

7. What can be done about moles in the yard?

A. Trapping can be used on moles. It is most effective using a Harpoon type trap and if you prepare the area prior to setting the trap. Find an active run by stomping it down a few times before setting the trap. If the run continues to pop back up, set the trap there the third or fourth time you stomp the run down. This should ensure get the mole. For more information view this NebGuide.

8. This caller has 2,4-D that froze in the container. How can he get rid of that?

A. If you can find a pesticide disposal location, that would be best. However, if you cannot find one, the best way to dispose of pesticide is to apply it to a labeled site (specific plant, animal, or structure) for which the product is registered. Always double check the product label to be certain that the site is listed and that the maximum application rate will not be exceeded.

9. The final caller of the day wanted to know how to get pampass grass to spread. Can it be pruned a certain way to encourage spreading?

A. No, you can’t prune it any way to encourage spreading, it will just take time. Over time it will grow larger to fill an area better or you can divide the plants to spread them out farther, but nothing else will be effective for spreading.

*Reference to commercial products or trade names does not imply endorsement by Nebraska Extension or bias against those not mentioned.

Vegetable Gardens

Spring is a wonderful time of the year! After a long, cold winter, it is always so wonderful to be able to get outside again and start working in our gardens. And there is nothing like fresh produce from your own garden during the summer months.

Garden location

Make sure that the soil is dry before you work the garden or plant any vegetables. Planting into mud can compact the soil and disrupt the growth of plants. If you don’t have the space or can’t dig up the lawn for a traditional garden or are unable to work on the ground, you can use a raised bed or even garden in containers. If you do either of these non-traditional methods, use potting soil rather than digging up soil from the backyard due to nutrient values, compaction, and water draining issues.

Locate your garden where it will receive at least 6 hours of sunlight per day. The majority of the sunlight hours should be in the afternoon when the sun is more intense. Also, choose a location that is near a water supply and is easily accessible for you to get to often.

Plants

When choosing what to plant in your garden, think about the things that you and your family enjoy eating most and plant that. If you are new to gardening don’t take on too much the first year. Also, be sure to space your plants correctly. Understanding how big plants get can help plan out the garden space to make sure everything doesn’t run together. Messy gardens are hard to maintain and diseases can spread faster in these environments where the plants are too close together. The seed packet or plant tag will tell you how far apart to space your plants, be sure to stick with the recommended spacing.

Cool season crops such as peas, potatoes, carrots, radish, kohlrabi, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, lettuce, and spinach can be planted in March-April, depending on what you plan to plant. Warm season crops such as tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, eggplant, corn and beans should be planted in early May, or after our last frost of the spring.

Plants such as carrots, radishes, lettuce, spinach, corn and beans should be planted as seed straight into the garden. Plant tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant from transplants that were started early in a greenhouse or in your home. Plants including zucchini, squash, melons, and cucumbers can be planted either as seed or as transplants.

Plant Care

Gardens need about 1 inch of water per week for best growth. Soaker hoses and drip irrigation are the best options to reduce diseases, but overhead irrigation can be used. If watering through overhead irrigation, it is best to water early in the day, to allow the garden enough time for the leaves to dry out before nightfall.

Vegetable gardens should be mulched in some way to manage weeds. Grass clippings make a good mulch as long as the lawn hasn’t been treated with any herbicides. If grass isn’t available or isn’t an option for you, you can use straw, newspaper, or wood chip mulch on the garden as well. Preemergence herbicides such as Preen can be used as long as it is labeled for use in the garden around your plants. Don’t apply preen around your seeded plants until they have emerged.

Plants like beans and peas will need a trellis to grow properly and tomato plants and other tall, bushy plants should be grown in a cage to keep them from falling over. Vining crops, such as cucumbers, can be grown on a trellis if desired. This will keep the plants up with good airflow to help reduce disease and it will make harvest much easier.

Yard & Garden: April 24, 2020

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for April 24, 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 had his yard sprayed for broadleaf weeds yesterday. How long should he wait before overseeding the lawn?

A. According to the label of Trimec, grass cannot be reseeded until 3-4 weeks after applications from the product. Any 2,4-D product would be similar. At this point, it would be best to wait until the fall to overseed the lawn, because that late in the spring would be hard to get the turf established. Be sure to tell your lawn company not to spray it in the fall until after the new grass has been mowed 3 times in the fall.

2. Can you start sweet potatoes from the sprouting sweet potatoes purchased from the grocery store?

A. You can, but they may not grow quite as well as desired. The varieties in the grocery store may not be as hardy as some of the varieties from the garden centers.

3. This caller is planting cucumbers, zucchini, pumpkins and other cucurbit plants. How far apart do they need to be planted to prevent cross-pollination?

A. The cross-pollination affects the produce in the following year, not the current growth period. The produce on the plants this year will be fine, but if they cross-pollinate, the fruits produced next year may not be true to the variety you are saving seed from. They also have to be in the same species to cross-pollinate, and cucumbers and zucchini are not.

4. A caller has rhubarb plants that are producing seed heads. Why is that happening so early and should anything be done about that?

A. The cold temperatures from last week are unusual and have “confused” the plants. This has pushed the plants to produce seed stalks. When rhubarb plants begin to produce seed stalks they push their energy into seed production and not into leaf and stalk production. To push that energy back into the stalk production we desire from rhubarb, cut the seed stalks off of the plant.

5. This caller has a rose garden that has chives coming up among the roses. What can be done to manage the chives and not harm the roses?

A. Among other plants it is best to use the “glove of death” which is when you wear a chemical-resistant glove and then put a cloth glove over that. Then, dip a few fingers of the gloved hand into Glyphosate and rub those fingers along the leaves of the chives to kill it. This will likely take multiple applications over multiple years to completely rid the garden of the chives, but this is best to not harm the roses.

6. A caller is wondering what the best method is for transplanting 5 foot tall peach trees?

A. The best time for this would be in the dormant period, either in the fall or late winter months. Be sure to get as much of the rootball as possible.

7. This caller has planted the Hairy Balls plant and now grass is growing up among the plants. Can Grass-B-Gon be used in these plants to kill the grass and not harm the plants?

A. It should be fine, Hairy Balls plant is in the milkweed family which is not a grass. It would be best to avoid spraying directly on the foliage of the desired plant to ensure limited exposure.

8. This caller started lettuce, spinach, and some herbs before the snow. They have not come up yet. Will they be ok or should they be replanted?

A. Give the plants a little more time to see if they come up yet. If they hadn’t germinated yet, they should be ok, but the soil temperatures were too cold with the snow and freezing temperatures last week for them to germinate. If they don’t come up soon, you can try to reseed or move these crops to a fall garden because we are going to start getting too warm soon.

He also wanted to know if his strawberries will survive? He planted them as roots prior to the snow, and they had no real above-ground growth prior to the snow.

A. Those should be fine, because they hadn’t started to grow yet. The roots should have been protected enough to survive.

9. A caller has strawberries that are growing in a raised bed. The strawberries in the center of the bed seem to have died out. Can she move some new starts from the outside edge to the middle now? Also, what should they be fertilized with? She has some 11-15-11 can she use that?

A. Yes, it is ok to move established plants now to fill in the bed better. The fertilizer she has would be fine to use. Just be sure to follow the label instructions on applications.

10. When can a magnolia tree be pruned to allow a lawnmower underneath?

A. The timing for tree pruning has shifted a little recently due to new research. The International Society of Arboriculture has moved the time frame to correspond with the spring growth flush which would be May through early June for southeast Nebraska. This allows the tree to seal up the wound faster with less disease and insect issues.

11. This caller has snowball bush hydrangea plants that are spreading and growing into the lawn. Can he divide the plants to move the plants that are spreading into undesired areas to grow in better locations?

A. Yes, either do it now or in the fall. When you dig them up, they may be attached to the main plant, just prune that connection off to move them.

12. A caller has iris plants that had pushed new leaf growth and then were hit by the snow and the tips of the leaves are brown and discolored. What should be done with that?

A. The plants will be fine. It might be best to wait until a few more leaves appear that are not brown, then the entire leaf that is brown can be removed. Wait to get more new leaves to avoid removing all the sugar producing leaves to be removed now.

13. What are some good plants for pollinators? Where should these be purchased?

A. Good choices would include butterfly bush, butterfly milkweed, milkweed, goldenrod, coneflowers, bee balm, sunflowers, coreopsis, and many more. They can be purchased at local nurseries and garden centers. Pollinator seed mixes can be found at some seed supply companies, including Stock Seed Farms in Murdock, NE.

14. The final caller of the day planted pampass grass it started to green up, but now after the snow nothing seems to be alive. Will these plants be ok?

A. Give the plants a couple more weeks to see if they will regrow. The roots should still be fine and it is likely that they will regrow, but if nothing in a couple of weeks, there would still be time to replant these.

*Reference to commercial products or trade names does not imply endorsement by Nebraska Extension or bias against those not mentioned.

Arbor Day, Plant for Diversity

As an arborist, trees are my favorite plants. And there is a holiday to celebrate my beloved trees, Arbor Day. Arbor Day is celebrated on the last Friday of April every year in Nebraska. This year that falls on April 24th. This holiday is not the same throughout the United States, it is moved around for other states to be in the best planting time for the year for each state that celebrates it.

Diversity

Deciding what tree to plant is very important and sometimes difficult. Diversity is key when choosing your tree. The general rule is to plant no more than 10% of a tree species, no more than 20% of a tree genus, and no more than 30% of a tree family in a respective urban area.

Diversity has not always been used as widely as today, and we have learned from that. In the early 1900’s American Chestnut trees were wiped out by Chestnut blight. We replaced many of those trees with American Elm trees which were then destroyed by Dutch Elm disease in the 1960’s. Those were then replaced with Ash trees which are now being demolished by Emerald Ash Borer. Also, in the early 2000’s we lost a majority of our windbreaks to Pine Wilt disease.

Diversity of our tree species helps reduce the problems from widespread disease and insect outbreaks. Look around at what types of trees you have and what types of trees your neighbors have before deciding on a new tree, try to avoid over-planting the same few trees throughout the neighborhood. Plus, diversity of trees is more aesthetically pleasing because of the different leaf and bark textures, different bloom times, and overall differences in trees.

Using understory trees

There are many trees that make a great understory trees and can be planted in the shade and protection of larger trees. Those trees would include things like redbud, pawpaw, and some of our dogwoods including flowering or Kousa dogwood. These trees prefer to have part shade so under a larger tree is a great spot for them. This can help mimic nature and help the overall growth of both the understory tree and larger tree.

Care of Trees

Keep newly planted trees well-watered. Always water newly planted trees, shrubs, or any other plant immediately after planting. Trees should be watered every 10-14 days throughout the growing season and even some during the winter on warmer days. Each watering should give the tree 1-2 inches of water. The best way to determine if a tree needs to be watered is to insert a soil probe or 12-inch-long screwdriver into the ground around the tree. If it goes in easily there is no need to water, if it is difficult at any point then water is necessary for the tree.

A mulch ring should be established and maintained around every tree. Mulch helps to keep the roots cool in the summer and regulated to a uniform temperature through the winter. Mulch will also help keep weeds down and reduce competition of water and nutrients from turf and other plants. Mulch also reduces damage to the trunk of trees from lawn mowers and trimmers. Finally, organic mulch is a way to hold moisture for use later by the tree. Mulch rings should be only 2-3 inches deep and in a circle around the tree at least 2-3 feet out. Organic mulches are a better choice than inorganic mulches. This mulch will need to be renewed every year to maintain an effective layer because it will break down over the growing season which will improve the soil.

Yard & Garden: April 17, 2020

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

*Reference to commercial products or trade names does not imply endorsement by Nebraska Extension or bias against those not mentioned.