Yard and Garden: March 30, 2018

Y&G Blog Photo, 2018

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for March 30, 2018. 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 3, 2018. 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: Justin Evertson, Green Infrastructure Coordinator, Nebraska Forest Service

1.The first caller of the year has brown rot in her apricot and cherry trees. How can this be managed this spring?

A. Brown rot is a fungus that affects the fruit of stone fruit trees. Spraying with Captan or Chlorothalonil products or using an Orchard Fruit Tree Spray throughout the growing season will reduce the disease. Avoid spraying during bloom if using a combination spray that contains an insecticide to avoid damage to pollinating insects. For more information on spraying and timing, visit food.unl.edu/local-food-production and click on ‘Managing Pests in Home Fruit Plantings

2. A caller has been advised to use a type of fescue called ‘Water Saver Fescue’ because it is more drought tolerant. Would this be a good turf choice?

A. This variety is a turf-type tall fescue variety that is an RTF variety. The RTF is a new type of tall fescue that forms rhizomes, allowing it to fill in a yard rather than just form clumps like the traditional tall fescue. Turf-type tall fescues are preferred to other types of grasses because they do well in our environment and are more drought tolerant than other turf species, such as Kentucky Bluegrass. This wouldn’t be any more drought tolerant than any other turf-type tall fescue species, but it would be drought tolerant.

3. When should a person fertilize their lawn?

A. If using the maximum fertilizer applications for a year, we recommend fertilizing with the holidays: Arbor Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day, and Halloween. It is not necessary to do all of these fertilizer applications. If you leave the grass clippings on your lawn, that replaces one fertilizer application over the course of a growing season. If you only apply fertilizer one time perĀ  year, the best time is at Halloween. If you would like to apply 2 applications per year, the other time would be to add an application on Arbor Day.

4. This caller wants to know what is best to use in a vegetable garden to keep the weeds down?

A. In a home vegetable garden, mulch is going to be best for weed control. There are a lot of mulch products that can be used in the garden to reduce weeds including: wood chips, grass clippings (that have not been treated with any pesticides), newspaper, leaves, and cardboard.

green-asparagus-pixabay5. A caller wants to plant a new asparagus bed. How should she go about planting and caring for her asparagus?

A. Asparagus is a great plant for a home garden. Many people want to get plant starts from a neighbor to start their patch, but it is best to just purchase a new set of crowns. When planting asparagus crowns, dig a trench 8-12 inches deep and bury the crowns only under 2 inches of soil. As the plants poke up through the soil, add more soil until the soil is level. Avoid harvesting asparagus until the third season of growth to allow the crowns enough time for root production. For weed control, mulch is best, the same mulches used on a vegetable garden work great for asparagus beds. Preen that is labeled for use around asparagus can be used in the spring to prevent annual weeds from germinating. In late May to early June, when finished harvesting asparagus for the year, you can break all the spears off below ground, leaving no green growth above ground, and spray glyphosate over the bed to reduce weeds.

6. This caller has Colorado Spruce trees with needles at the bottom of the tree that are turning brown. What is wrong with the tree and how can it be fixed?

A. This is likely due to needle cast disease. You can spray the tree for needle cast in May using a liquid copper fungicide. For more information, view this Nebraska Forest Service publication on Diseases of Evergreen Trees.

7. When is a good time to transplant Iris and Peonies?

A. The best time is in the fall, but it can be done now. They may not bloom this spring if you move them now, but will bloom again next year. Be sure to get the peony planted at the same depth it is now or it won’t bloom.

8. A caller has a vine growing on the trees they thought was poison oak. How can it be controlled?

A. It is likely that this is woodbine or Virginia creeper. It doesn’t all have to be killed off, it makes a great groundcover. Cut off the parts growing up the tree and leave the rest for a groundcover. If you need to manage it cut it off and treat with glyphosate or triclopyr or just hand pull.

9. The final caller of the day has recently read that trees can “communicate” to other trees if they are attacked by a pest to help the other tree prepare to defend themselves from the pest problem. Is there any research on this?

A. There is a theory that trees communicate. A German Forester is looking into this idea further. Here is the Article from the Smithsonian Magazine regarding this topic and the research on how trees communicate.

Yard and Garden: July 17, 2015

Yard and Garden Green Logo

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for July 17, 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: Steve Karloff, with Special Guest Jennifer Morris from the Nebraska Forest Service

1. A caller has a 35 year-old spruce tree that has needles that are turning pink, brown starting at the bottom of the tree on the east side. What could be causing this?

A: This sounds like needle cast disease, a fungal disease, that is common in blue spruces this year due to the rains in the spring. The treatment period for this was in the spring prior to development of the disease. It should not kill the tree. Make sure that the tree is properly cared for with 1 inch of watering per week, applied slowly, and a mulch ring of 2-3 inches deep.

2. A gentleman has cucumbers that are developing improperly. They are large at one end and very skinny at the blossom end of the fruit. What would be the issue with this odd developed fruit?

A: This could be due to environmental conditions. Dry conditions, which we have seen since the rain quit in early June, could lead to poor fruit development. It can also be due to poor pollination. Avoid use of insecticides if pollinator insects such as bees are present around the fruit.

Green June Beetles
Green June Beetles

3. A gentleman brought in some metallic green beetles that are very large. What are they?

A. These are green June beetles. They are not damaging to our plants and therefore require no management tactics.

4. A caller has a shady area on the North side of the house. What would be a good groundcover for this area?

A: Holly, purple leaf wintercreeper, vinca, lily of the valley, hostas, snowberry, coralberry, Bleeading hearts, or coral bells will all grow well in a shady environment on the North side of a house. Many of these will stay around 2 feet or shorter, but the snowberry and coralberry and holly will all get taller. A good mixture of shade plants will look nice around a home.

5. A caller has an oak tree that is well established. He is looking for a good groundcover to plant underneath that.

A: hostas, bleeding hearts, coral bells, vinca, and purple leaf wintercreeper will grow well under the shade of a large tree. Grape hyacinth can also be planted around the other plants for early spring color and fragrance with little impact to the landscape later in the season.

6. What are the tall blue flowers growing along the highway currently?

A: Chicory. This is a wildflower often used in roadside mixes or in native prairies. They have a sky blue flower and most of the leaves are located at the base of the plant rather than up along the taller flower stalks.

7. A gentleman has a windbreak of cedars that is dying. He sprayed 2,4-D underneath to kill the wild cucumber. The trees are 30-40 years old and they have bagworms but he has not treated. What can he do to keep the windbreak?

A: This could be due to bagworms. They are heavy this year and right now is a good time to spray with many general insecticides including sevin, eight, malathion, Bt, or Tempo. This could also be a side-effect of the 2,4-D that may have moved into the root zone more quickly with the rain events this year.

8. A caller wanted to know what the best recommendation for mosquito control prior to a get-together would be?

A: Mosquitoes can be controlled for a few days by using a hose-end sprayer with permethrin or bifenthrin which have a longer residual than some other insecticides. These sprays need to focus on the shrubs and trees and tall grasses around the yard where the gathering will occur and they should only be done 2-3 days prior to the gathering. Aerosol foggers that contain pyrethrins can be used shortly before the party begins to help reduce mosquito populations as well. For the time of the gathering, tiki torches and insect repellents containing DEET will help reduce additional mosquitoes.

Cedar-Hawthorn Rust
Cedar-Hawthorn Rust

9. A gentleman brought in a pear leaf with orange spots on the leaves. What would be causing this?

A: This is due to a rust disease, Cedar-Hawthorn Rust. It is very common this year due to the wet spring. The timing for management is in the spring, May and June. There is no need to control it at this point in the season. See this NebGuide on Cedar-apple rust and related rusts of apples and ornamentals.

10. A caller has a maple that is 10-12 years old with leaves that are wilting, turning brown, and falling off the tree. What could be the cause of this?

A: Look for green tissue under the bark on the branches. This could be due to a high flush of growth in the spring that put on too many leaves for the tree to maintain now that the weather has dried up and gotten hot.

11. The same caller wondered if there was a control method for pine wilt?

A: No, the best control would be to remove and destroy the tree as soon as possible after the disease is noticed in the landscape to reduce the spread of the disease to other trees.