Yard and Garden: August 2, 2019

Yard & Garden blog, 2019

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for August 2, 2019. Yard and Garden Live is a call-in radio show I do on KUTT 99.5 FM from 10-11:30 am. 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.

Guest Host: Dennis Ferraro, Extension Wildlife Specialist, UNL

1. The first question of the show was about pole green beans. They were planted in May and have been blooming but have not produced any beans yet. What is wrong with them?

A. This is likely due to the abnormal weather pattern we have seen this spring and summer. Make sure that the plants are mulched and watered evenly, as much as you can. Also, the warmer night temperatures will keep the beans from developing.

2. A caller has lilacs that are 2 feet tall. They have rust spots on the leaves. What is causing this?

A. This is likely due to a fungal disease. Make sure you are watering from the base of the plant and keep mulch around the plants. Fungicides can be used but if it is just on a few leaves, just pull those off and destroy them. It also is a little late to spray fungicides on the plants this year. At the end of the year clean up all the fallen leaves from around the plant to prevent re-infection next year.

3. This caller has turf that continually gets brown patch every year, it is only getting one hour of sunlight per day. What can be done to help reduce this problem?

A. Unfortunately, the turf isn’t growing well in this location. Turf is a full sun plant and needs at least 6-8 hours of full sun per day, not dappled light. In this location the turf will always have problems. It might be a good time to switch to another plant underneath the trees. Shade perennials or groundcovers could replace the turf and they would grow much better there. Sedges are another good choice that look very similar to the lawn but would tolerate the shade better.

4. What can be used for weeds in a driveway?

A. Roundup 365 would be a good option for this. It contains glyphosate as well as imazapic which lasts longer than the glyphosate alone. On the label it states to only apply once a year and to “spray until THOROUGHLY WET”, so for best results spray to this extent. Soil sterilants aren’t recommended because they often run off into adjacent plant material such as grass and kills it. You could also use pre-emergent herbicides in the spring to help with annual weeds. Always read and follow the label when using pesticides.

5. A caller has bagworms in his windbreak. What can be done for bagworms now?

A. It may be a little late in the year to treat chemically for bagworms. Once they get much larger than 1/2″ in length, their feeding is reduced and sprays are not as effective. Also, the majority of their damage is done for the year. If you decide not to spray, it would help to go out and pick as many of the bags off as you can and destroy them.

Sandbur, Rebekah D. Wallace, Univ of GA, Bugwood
Sandbur, Photo courtesy of Rebekah D. Wallace, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org

6. How do you control sandburs?

A. Sandburs are an annual grass, so using crabgrass pre-emergent herbicides in the spring will also kill germinating sandbur seeds. Also, sandburs are easily out-competed, so if you can get something else to grow in the area, the sandbur population will be reduced.

7. This caller has Japanese beetles on Linden trees. What can be done to control them? Will the trees die from this?

A. The trees should be fine next year and will leaf out fine. You can spray the trees now with Sevin or chlorothalonil. Next year, you can spray with these products after the bloom period or when the beetles first appear. Do NOT use a systemic insecticide on linden trees due to the high amount of pollinators that are found on lindens.

8. A caller has a problem with squirrels eating his sweet corn. What can be done to stop the squirrels?

A. For a small plot of corn, you can drape bird netting over the corn and use fishing weights to hold it down. From Control of Tree Squirrel Damage NebGuide “Wire mesh fences (no larger than ½-inch weave) topped with electrified wire or mesh enclosures may be practical for keeping squirrels out of small areas. Electrified wires are not recommended for use where there are children or pets. Little else can be done with squirrels in larger areas, other than re-moving the offending squirrels by cage trapping or shooting where safe and legal.”

9. This caller has an apple tree that is covered with Japanese Beetles. She sprayed Tempo on the tree, can she still use the apples?

A. No, fruit trees are not listed on the label. When using pesticides be sure that the plant you are spraying the pesticide on is on the label. With fruits and vegetables, watch the PHI (pre-harvest interval) to know how long to wait between application and harvest.

10. A caller has pin oaks and something seems to be eating the leaves. The leaves are dying and this is a young tree and he is trying to avoid using pesticides. What can be done?

A. This damage could be from grasshoppers or beetles, most of the damage seems to be happening at night so it could be chaffers that are active at night. Using a neem oil or insecticidal soap would work for these pests as an organic option.

11. This caller is having troubles with a groundhog. How can manage the groundhog?

A. Trapping works best for groundhogs. Put burlap over the cage because groundhogs are spooked easily. Use a half an apple or half an ear of corn for bait. Wire the cage open for a few days to allow the groundhog to take the bait and become more relaxed with the trap. Then, after a few days set the trap without wiring it open. Once you catch the groundhog, you cannot translocate it. It must be euthanized with a firearm if legal where you are or take it to animal control. Be sure to check local laws before controlling this groundhog. For more information, visit wildlife.unl.edu

12. A caller is trying to control his bagworms, what chemical can he use for bagworm control?

A. Tempo is a great choice, but sevin or any other general insecticide will work. It may be a little late in the year to treat chemically for bagworms. Once they get much larger than 1/2″ in length, their feeding is reduced and sprays are not as effective. Also, the majority of their damage is done for the year. If you are planning on still spraying, get it done very soon.

13. The last caller of the year called to say “Thank You!” He removed brome grass competition from around his trees, thanks to advice from the show, and now his trees are growing much better.

*Disclaimer ­- Reference to any specific brand named product does not constitute endorsement, recommendation, favoring or implied criticism if similar products are not mentioned by Nebraska Extension in Gage County.  Identifying specific pesticides are for the convenience of the reader and are generally most commonly available.  Always read and follow the pesticide label.

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Yard and Garden: July 26, 2019

Yard & Garden blog, 2019

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for July 26, 2019. 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 2, 2019. 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: Bob Henrickson, Horticulture Program Coordinator for the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum

1. The first question of the show was about catalpa trees. They were pruned in the past, but now they have a bunch of smaller branches growing out of the location where the branch was removed from the tree.

A. The branch that was removed was likely not correctly done. If the cut wounded into the trunk of the tree or left a stump, it would cause the tree to push a lot of new growth like suckering. Make sure that proper pruning cuts are followed and that you don’t leave a stump. Follow these steps when pruning a tree to ensure it is removed correctly with minimal damage and avoid the branch-bark collar to avoid a flush cut which will not heal correctly.

3-step pruning cut
Proper pruning cut, University of Missouri Extension

2. How do you control clover in the lawn?

A. Clover can be found in an under-fertilized lawn. It may be a good practice to fertilize at least one time a year to help the lawn compete with the clover. If treating with chemicals, the fall is the best time of year to treat for broadleaf perennials such as clover, dandelions, and creeping Charlie. Apply a 2,4-D product or one containing triclopyr twice in the fall. Mid-September and again in mid-October is best. Other IPM strategies for controlling clover include mowing high and aeration if necessary.

Co Potato Beetle Pupa 2
Colorado Potato Beetle Pupa

3. A question came in via email about orange things on potatoes. There are tiny orange bugs found on potato plants in her garden. What are they and how can they be controlled?

A. These are Colorado potato beetle larvae. Pull any off that are found and smash them or spray with sevin to control them as they emerge as beetles.

4. A caller has creeping Charlie in their yard. When is the best time to spray for that?

A. When using chemicals, the fall is the best time of year to treat for broadleaf perennials such as clover, dandelions, and creeping Charlie. Apply a 2,4-D product or a product containing triclopyr twice in the fall. Mid-September and again in mid-October is best. Other IPM strategies for controlling creeping Charlie include mowing high and aeration if necessary.

5. This caller has cucumber plants with a lot of flowers but no fruits. Why are these plants not producing fruits?

A. You should check the flowers to see if they are all male flowers or if there are female flowers as well. Male flowers just have a skinny stalk behind the flower. Female flowers have a tiny cucumber behind the flower. If male flowers are all that are present, give it time for the plant to produce female flowers. If both male and female flowers are present, there could be a problem with pollinators. Avoid spraying while bees are active, attract bees with other pollinator plants, put up a bee house to bring bees in. If you are using row covers, be sure to uncover the plants for a while during the day so bees can pollinate the plants.

6. A caller called in with a good suggestion to help with cucumber plants. He grows his on a trellis so they can get better airflow and less diseases. It also makes it easier to harvest the plants this way.

7. This caller has a small hackberry that is 12-14 feet tall with 3 trunks growing together. There are small splits all along the trunk like some type of injury, what caused this and will his tree be ok?

A. These could be spots from hail injury, even from a few years ago. There is nothing to do for hail damage. Most trees will come through just fine. If the damage is intense, the tree could have more problems.

8. Is it too late to trim lilac bushes?

A. Yes, it is too late for general pruning of lilacs. They should be pruned within the first couple of weeks following the flowering period. If a rejuvenation pruning is desired, the fall would be a good time to do that, wait until late September to mid-October for that.

9. A caller who manages a golf course has a couple of Linden trees that were under water for about 2 months this year. They sat in a flooded area of the golf course for this time in the spring. They originally did leaf out but since then the leaves have turned brown. Will the tree be ok?

A. There is likely no life left in these trees. Lindens are not adapted to have their roots that wet for that long. The trees probably had enough energy left in the roots to push out leaves but now have ran out of energy. It would be best to remove those trees and replace them with something more adapted to sitting in water from time-to-time, such as bald cypress trees.

10. The final question of the day was sent via email. This listener has a gravel driveway that is partially sloped. How can they keep the weeds out of this driveway and not harm the grass at the end of the slope?

A. Roundup 365 would be the best option for this. It contains glyphosate as well as imazapic which lasts longer than the glyphosate alone. On the label it states to only apply once a year and to “spray until THOROUGHLY WET”, so for best results spray to this extent. Soil sterilants aren’t recommended because they often run off into adjacent plant material such as grass and kills it. Always read and follow the label when using pesticides.

*Disclaimer ­- Reference to any specific brand named product does not constitute endorsement, recommendation, favoring or implied criticism if similar products are not mentioned by Nebraska Extension in Gage County.  Identifying specific pesticides are for the convenience of the reader and are generally most commonly available.  Always read and follow the pesticide label.

 

Yard and Garden: August 3, 2018

Y&G Blog Photo, 2018

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for August 3, 2018. Yard and Garden Live is a call-in radio show I do on KUTT 99.5 FM from 10-11:30 am this was the final episode for 2018. It can be found again next spring on kutt995.com for online listening. If you enjoy reading my Q&A from the show each week, take my quick survey at: go.unl.edu/yardandgarden18 and be entered to win a free tree diagnostic book.

Guest Hosts: Kevin Christiansen, Horticulture Instructor at SCC Beatrice & Evan Alderman, Turfgrass Management and Horticulture Instructor at SCC Beatrice

1. The first caller of the day has a windbreak that has elms growing in it. How can he kill the elms and not harm the windbreak trees?

A. In this situation you need to use a herbicide that will kill the elms but will not be translocated through the roots into the surrounding windbreak trees. Tordon should NOT be used in this location. A good option would be either glyphosate, Roundup, or a 2,4-D product. Use these 2 products as a stump treatment on the tree just after cutting the tree off.

2. A caller has cucumbers that are blooming but are not producing any fruit yet. Why are the cucumber not producing? This caller also wondered how to control puncturevine?

A. The cucumbers could be due to no female flowers, if all the flowers are male, they will not produce any fruits. Sometimes our plants start with just male flowers and the females will come in later. It could also be due to low pollinators around the plants. If not many bees or beetles or other insects are found around the plants, they cannot be pollinated and may need to be hand pollinated. Hand pollination can be done by running a cotton swab through all of the blooms, this would move pollen from male flowers to female flowers. Puncturevine can be controlled with a 2,4-D product in the fall. Apply the 2,4-D in mid-September and in mid-October.

3. When should you transplant surprise lilies?

A. Surprise lillies can be transplanted or divided just after the flower dies back in the fall.

4. This caller has foxtail in the vegetable garden. Can anything be sprayed in the garden to control the foxtail?

A. There is nothing that can be sprayed over a garden to control foxtail and not harm the garden plants. The best option would be to use preen in the spring and summer to stop the germination of annual weeds such as foxtail. Be sure to use the preen that is labeled for use in a vegetable garden and wait until after all seeds planted have germinated. Mulch would help suppress the weeds in the garden as well. Grass clippings, straw, or other organic mulches will help keep the weeds down to help your vegetable plants grow better.

5. A caller was looking for assistance choosing fruit trees for his acreage. He also has rust on his fruit trees and wants to know how to manage it.

A. There is a great NebGuide on Fruit Tree Cultivars for Nebraska. For rust, this is not the correct time to treat for it. You can spray your trees in the spring with a liquid copper fungicide. For more on care and pest control of your fruit trees, visit: https://food.unl.edu/local-food-production

6. This caller has a windbreak of Red Cedars that are losing limbs. The trees are 100 years old and 30 feet tall. What is wrong with them?

A. This could be due to old age. It may be a good idea to start a new row of trees on the inside of the old row.

7. A caller has nutsedge in his lawn. What can he spray it with and can he still spray it?

A. Sedgehammer is the best control for nutsedge. It can still be sprayed now, however more control will be achieved if applied in the beginning of June, prior to the first day of summer. If sprayed before June 21st, nutlet production will be reduced, thereby reducing the population for the following year.

2014-10-06 15.27.18
Tree planting in the fall

8. This caller wants to know when the best time is to transplant an oak tree?

A. Fall or Spring are both good times to transplant a tree.

9. How do you control cattails and water lilies in a pond?

A. Rodeo is the glyphosate product that is labeled for use in water and it can be used on both of these weeds.

10. How can you control crabgrass and nutsedge in a lawn

A. Quinclorac can be used now for both of these weeds. Or use a pre-emergent herbicide in the spring and again in June for the crabgrass and sedgehammer for the nutsedge in June. Tenacity is another product that should work on both of these weeds.

11. A caller wants to know why we should worry about getting rid of cattails and water lilies in a pond?

A. Weeds in a pond can strangle the waterways or destroy habitat for fish. Some plant life along the edge of the pond can be beneficial, but too much can be a detriment.

12. This caller has lilies with caterpillars in the stem. What are those and how can they be destroyed?

A. This is likely a cutworm. Sevin or eight or Bt applied at the base of the plant can help kill these pests before they damage your plants.

13. When is the proper time to apply a winter fertilizer on a lawn?

A. Fall fertilizer can be applied in late August to mid September and the winter fertilizer can be applied in the middle to late October. It is no longer recommended to apply the winter fertilizer in November as previously recommended.

14. A walk-in listener has a weed they need identified and they need to know how to control it?

A. This is a weed called nimblewill. It is a warm-season grassy weed. It can be treated either with Roundup or Tenacity. If you use Roundup and reseed, apply the roundup now, while the nimblewill is still green and then overseed in a couple of weeks through the end of September.

15. This caller has spaghetti squash that was looking great and then one day it just died. What caused it to die and how can the other plants be protected?

A. This is likely due to squash vine borer. You can use sevin or eight to protect your plants from the squash vine borer. Be sure to apply it at the base of the plant where the plant comes out of the ground. These chemicals will need to be reapplied every 10-14 days throughout the growing season to protect the plants. Otherwise, you can wrap the base of the plant in aluminum foil to prevent the borer from getting into the plant.

16. A caller has watermelons with yellowing leaves. This has happened to his plants 3 years in a row now, he does rotate the crops in the garden. This damage starts at the base of the plants and will eventually kill the whole vine. He has mulch on the garden and waters slowly with a hose for 2 hours at a time. What is causing this problem? Also, when do you transplant iris?

A. This looks to be alternaria leaf spot. He is doing many things to prevent this disease already with mulch and his watering practices. It might be beneficial to try a liquid copper fungicide this year and next year as soon as the symptoms begin. Iris can be transplanted in the fall, September or October would be best.

17. A walk-in listener has a tree they want identified and they want to know why it keeps suckering and what they can do with the suckers?

A. This is a silver maple tree, they are prone to suckering. Suckers should be just cut off as they grow to reduce the amount of energy they take from the main tree. Do not treat the suckers with anything as that could injure or kill the main tree because the suckers are growing off the main tree roots.

18. This caller wants to know why their pepper plants are not growing well?

A.The peppers are planted too closely to a black walnut tree and will not grow well in that location. Black walnut trees produce juglone, which is basically a naturally produced weed killer. Certain plants are more sensitive to juglone, tomatoes and peppers are quite sensitive. The garden should be moved to at least 50 feet from the black walnut of the plants should be grown in a container or raised bed to avoid problems with the juglone.

19. The final caller of the year has hostas planted in a rock garden and they are not growing, they are still small like they were just planted there.

A. The rock garden may be too hot for the hostas and the rocks do not provide any nutrients back to the plants. It might be best to switch to a wood chip mulch to help reduce the heat and add some nutrients and organic matter to the soil.

2015-07-30 16.59.55
Bindweed

This caller also wanted to know what to do to kill the bindweed growing in her Iris beds?

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 stem and leaves of the bindweed to kill it. Basically, the idea is to keep it from flowering and producing more seed, hand pulling will help keep new seed from being deposited into the garden which can be viable for up to 60 years.

Hot Weather and Plants

Drought in a lawn
Drought lawn photo from John Fech, Nebraska Extension Educator in Douglas/Sarpy Counties.

It’s hard to say what normal Nebraska weather is. However, this year has been particularly difficult for our plants. The quick change from cool to hot has caused some lasting effects on our plants. Some of the common problems we have been seeing this year include: leaf scorch, drought problems, and poor pollination.

Leaf Scorch

Leaf scorch can happen on the leaves of our trees, vegetable plants, and other garden plants. Leaf scorch causes the tips of leaves of many plants to turn brown and crispy. The abrupt change in our environment from cold to hot and humid left even the most well-adapted plants struggling to stay green. Even plants that are not in full sun will be affected from the high temperatures, such as hostas that are planted in shade.

When the plant is unable to take up enough water, the leaf tissue that is farthest from the major veins will dehydrate first causing leaf margins to scorch first. Leaf scorch is not necessarily caused from lack of water, it is because the plants cannot take in enough water to compensate for what is being lost through transpiration. The moisture may be present around the roots, it just is not entering the plant as fast as it is leaving it.

Do not automatically go out an water the plants that are showing scorch. Watering may be necessary, but don’t overwater. Ensure that the plants have mulch around them and check the soil moisture before watering.

Dry Conditions

In these dry conditions we have faced through most of the growing season, it is important to remember to water your plants. But, it is always a good idea to check soil moisture before watering to help reduce the problems with overwatering. Most of our plants need about 1 inch of water per week, if they don’t receive that from precipitation, they need it from irrigation. If a screwdriver or dowel pushes into the ground easily moisture is sufficient around the plant. For trees the screwdriver should go down 12-18 inches, for perennials it should go down 6-8 inches and for turf and vegetables it should go down 4-6 inches.

Poor Pollination

The heat we are facing is also causing some slight problems with poor pollination and there are problems we could face later as our fruits begin to develop, abnormally. In this heat there is a condition called blossom drop that can occur. It is when the flowers abort and fall from the plant rather than developing into a fruit. This can also be due to drought conditions, which we are also facing. When temperatures reach 93 degrees F, pollen becomes sterilized, so even if they get pollinated, they are not fertilized and fruits will not develop.

The heat and drought we have been dealing with can also cause small fruit development and sunscald. Sunscald happens in high temperatures when our fruits develop without leaf cover. Don’t prune tomatoes too heavily or it can leave your fruits open to damage from sunscald.

We could also have problems with bitter tasting cucumbers this year. Cucumbers produce a chemical called cucurbitacin, which is bitter in flavor. Most cucumbers that we eat now have low amounts of this chemical, but they can produce more due to environmental stress. Uneven watering, drought issues, and high temperatures can all lead to the build-up of cucurbitacin. It is likely this year we may have a problem with that, and there is no way to fix it. Just be sure to try out your cucumbers while you are cutting them up for your recipes.

The leaf scorch information for this article came from Kathleen Cue, Dodge County Extension Educator.

Yard and Garden: June 1, 2018

Y&G Blog Photo, 2018

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for June 1, 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: George Pinkerton, Director of Landscape Maintenance for Downtown Lincoln

1.The first caller of the show wants to know how to control grassy weeds in peonies and in asparagus?

A. In the peony plants, you can spray Grass-b-Gon or another product containing fluazifop-p-butyl to kill perennial and annual grassy weeds. However, this product cannot be used in asparagus. For weed management in asparagus, it is best to use mulch through the season to keep the weeds down. Roundup, or glyphosate, can be sprayed over top of the asparagus in the beginning of the season before the asparagus begins to grow, after harvest once all the stalks have been cut off below the ground level, and at the end of the season after removing the ferns and no green of the asparagus is showing above ground. Preen that is labeled for use in asparagus can be used throughout the season as well to stop the germination of new, annual weeds.

2. This caller has ants on their potatoes and radish with a great deal of damage. What can be done to stop the ants from damaging these plants more?

A. It is likely that the problem is not due to the ants, they are likely there as a secondary issue and they are not eating the potatoes and radish. Grubs will feed on the tubers and other underground structures. They do not typically affect tomato roots or the roots of the other above-ground growing plants. There are no products labeled for grub control in a home vegetable garden. If the grubs are becoming a problem, move the garden next year and treat the area without the vegetables on that area for a year. Treat for grubs in the lawn around the garden to help reduce the population.

3. A caller has had poor pollination in cucumbers in past years. What can he do this year to ensure he has better cucumber production?

A. If there aren’t many bees or butterflies around the garden, it could be low pollination. Try to attract pollinators through additional pollinator garden areas. You can also hand-pollinate these plants with a cotton swab, touching many flowers throughout the plant with the same cotton swab to transfer the pollen throughout.

4. This caller purchased burning bushes in containers and then left for 4 days before getting them planted. Now, the leaves are brown and crispy, are these plants dead or will they pull through?

A. If branches are brittle and break rather than bend, they are likely dead and will not regrow from that. In the late May time frame, it is going to be difficult to keep a newly planted shrub watered well enough in this heat and drought, this will be even more difficult if the plant is not placed into the ground right away. Containerized plants would need to be watered at least once a day now that it is so hot.

5. A caller planted 2 fruit trees and a red maple that they received through a mail-order service. The fruit trees are doing fine, but the maple has not leafed out and is not growing well at all. What happened? Will the tree come through?

A. Sometimes during transportation, bare root trees will dry out and they are not able to recover from that. It is best to purchase your plants locally to ensure this does not happen.

Carpenter Bee, J. Kalisch
Carpenter Bee Photo from Jim Kalisch, UNL Entomologist

6. How do you control carpenter bees?

A. Carpenter bees are a good pollinator insect and will not sting you. If they are doing damage to the structure of a building, you can fill the holes with some caulk or putty. If you would like to, you can inject sevin dust into the holes before sealing the holes to kill the bees. For more information here is a guide from Lancaster County Extension on Carpenter Bees.

7. This caller has Siberian elms growing within a well-established windbreak that are dropping yellow leaves. What is wrong with the trees?

A. It is likely that the trees turning yellow are hackberry trees growing in the windbreak rather than the elm trees. Hackberry trees have recently been dropping leaves like they do in the fall. They tend to do this in the late spring if the weather becomes unfavorable to their growth. They will drop their leaves and then push new regrowth. This is likely due to the quick change to hot/dry this summer.

8. A caller just planted rose bushes and oak leaf hydrangea plants in full sun with a rock mulch. Now the roses have holes in the leaves and the hydrangea plants are getting rush spots. What is wrong with these plants?

A. After a picture was emailed, it was determined that the roses had rose slug damage. Rose slugs are actually the immature form of sawflies that feed on roses this time of year causing brown spots in the leaves and holes. Rose slugs resemble a caterpillar that is translucent green with a brown head and they are found on the underside of the leaf. They are not very detrimental and do not need to be controlled. They are a short-term problem. Also, it is difficult to control sawfly larvae and not harm pollinators in the flowers of the rose. The hydrangeas are exhibiting problems with heat due to being planted in full sun with a rock mulch. Make sure to keep them well-watered to avoid more problems.

5-4-11 (2)
Creeping Charlie in a lawn

9. This caller has a mint smelling weed growing in his yard. What is it and how do you manage it?

A. This would be Creeping Charlie, also called ground ivy. This weed can be difficult to control, but it is best managed in the fall. Many broadleaf herbicides will work for creeping Charlie, including 2,4-D, trimec, tenacity, or triclopyr. It is best to apply one of these chemicals 2 or 3 times in the fall. One application can be made around September 15th with a second application around October 15th. It will take multiple years of this management plan to fully rid the yard of ground ivy.

10. A caller has zucchini leaves that are crisp and curled up rather than smooth like normal growth. What is wrong with the plant?

A. After discussion with the caller, it was determined that she should spread her watering out more. Our vegetable gardens need about 1 inch of water per week, but this should be spread out over 2 or 3 times per week if rain is not providing that water. She also sent a photo to Nicole, where it was determined that this might be due to herbicide drift from a broadleaf herbicide applied nearby. In the heat and humidity we are dealing with currently, it is best to not use broadleaf herbicides anymore now until the fall of this year to avoid volatilization of the chemicals where they turn into a gas and move around to non-target plants.

11. How much water does a lawn need? How do you know how much water you are applying? Should you water in the afternoon to cool the grass off or is that a myth?

A. A lawn need 1-1.5 inches of water per week. If you are not getting that naturally, it is best to apply 1/3-1/2 of an inch 3 times per week to keep the lawn healthy. You can do an audit of your system to know how much you are applying each time you water. Simply place tuna cans or some type of catch device throughout the lawn to catch the irrigation as it runs to determine how much is being applied each time. As for syringing the lawn, no it doesn’t really help the lawn cool off. Lawns transpire as a natural way to cool themselves, and syringing only cools the lawn a few degrees for a few minutes. For more information on syringing, here is a good Turf iNfo article from Bill Kreuser at the UNL Turfgrass Department.

12. This caller has something that is digging large holes in the yard. What would be causing this and how can the damage be controlled?

A. This could be due to a skunk digging up the grass looking for white grubs. Treat the lawn for grubs in the middle to late part of June to help reduce the attractant for the skunks. For more on skunks and how to control them, here is a guide from UNL Wildlife.

13. A caller is looking for a good plant to use to grow up a windmill. Would a vining hydrangea be a good choice to grow on the windmill that is in full sun?

A. No, hydrangea plants don’t grow well in full sun. Honeysuckle would be a good choice for this location. If you can keep the roots a bit shaded, clematis would be another great choice.

14. The final caller of the day wanted to know how long tulips can live?

A. Some of the newer varieties may not live as long as some of the old types. However most will grow for many years.

Poor Pollination

Poor Pollination, Blog post

Summer is a great time of the year. Our flowers are blooming and our gardens are growing. However, sometimes we have disappointments in the garden such as when our vegetable crops don’t produce viable fruits for us to eat. There are many reasons for that, but most of them we cannot help with. Just be patient and they will work themselves out.

Zucchini, squash, and cucumbers have been known to produce fruits that develop into only a small fruit that then falls off the plant. The reason for this is due to poor pollination. The plants in the cucurbit family have separate male and female flowers. This time of the year, only the male plants are present in the plants. To have a fully pollinated fruit that will develop to maturity, the plant needs the female flower to provide the fruit itself, but it needs to be pollinated by the male flower. A female flower is easily identified because you will see a small forming fruit behind the flower. Often times, people see the flowers on the plant and then get discouraged because a fruit doesn’t form, but both types of flowers are necessary to get fruits.

Poor pollination can also be caused due to lack of pollinators. Bees and other insects are necessary in cucurbits to ensure that the pollen is moved from the male flowers to the female flowers. Some years the weather isn’t desirable to the pollinators or we have a low number of pollinators present, which will lead to poor pollination causing the small fruits to drop off before fully developing. This year it has been quite rainy which leads to less pollination because bees don’t like to fly in the rain. Be careful when spraying for squash bugs and squash vine borers to help reduce injury to pollinating insects.

blossom end rot zucchini
Blossom End Rot on Zucchini

Blossom end rot is another reason that small fruits may not fully develop and then fall of your plants. Blossom end rot is an environmental problem that affects many of the plants in our garden including tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, squash, zucchini, and watermelons. This is actually a calcium deficiency within our plants. Calcium is often found in adequate quantities in Nebraska soils, however, it cannot be moved throughout the soil and into the plant without even moisture. So, the problem isn’t due to lack of calcium, it is due to uneven moisture in the soils. In Nebraska, especially in the beginning stages of plant development, moisture is typically uneven due to heavy rains in between dry spells. Using calcium on your plants will not help this issue. Give the plants time and they should begin to develop normal fruits with no blossom end rot on them later in the season. Typically, we only see blossom end rot for the first couple of harvests in a season. You can still eat the fruits that develop with blossom end rot, you would just need to cut the rotten portion of the fruit off.

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Squash bugs on a Zucchini

Squash bugs and squash vine borer are coming to take over our gardens soon. This is the time of year to watch out for these problematic, common insects found affecting our cucumbers, zucchini, and the other cucurbits. Pay attention to your garden to help prevent damage. You can scout for the eggs of the squash bug. You will notice a group of tiny, copper colored eggs gathered near the intersection of the veins on the underside of the leaves. Remove and destroy the eggs as you find them to reduce the population. For squash vine borer, wrap the base of the plant in aluminum foil to stop the females from laying the eggs on your plant. You can use insecticides for both of these, just be careful to do it in the evening when the bees aren’t flying and don’t spray the flowers with insecticides to help with pollination.