Yard and Garden: May 17, 2019

Yard & Garden blog, 2019

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for May 17, 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: Kathleen Cue, Dodge County Extension Educator

1. The first caller of the show has a bur oak and a pin oak that have both been very slow to green up this spring and now have turned brown. Is there something wrong with the trees?

A. The browning of those trees is most likely due to the formation of catkins, which are the flower structures of the oak trees. Those turn brown when they mature then will fall from the tree. It may look bad, but it is normal for the tree. They are slow to green up this year due to the cooler spring we have had, they will be fine.

2. A caller has a fishing pond that now has a layer of moss on the edge. He sprayed it with copper sulfate in mid-April and that seems to have not worked for this. What can he do to control it?

A. Copper sulfate is a recommended product for controlling this type of algae on a pond. It can be used when growth first becomes visible. Be careful applying too much of this in one season because it can cause a fish kill if sprayed in too high of a dose. However, when this caller sprayed, it may not have been actively growing so the copper sulfate would not be as effective. A second application could be applied now that it is actively growing. Another way to control this would be to use a rake to pull the majority of this algae out of the pond without having to reapply the chemicals and not risking any problems with the fish.

3. This caller has miniature Iris’ that are now done blooming but they need thinned and divided. Can this transplanting be done now?

A. Yes, it would be fine to divide and transplant these Iris’ now. It would be best to cut off the seed heads prior to dividing so the plants put energy into producing roots not into seed development. Be sure to keep the ground evenly moist after this because the plants will not have a good root system in place, but don’t overwater.

4. A caller was gifted some spring-blooming bulbs that were purchased last fall. Can they be planted now?

A. It is best to plant spring-blooming bulbs in the fall. They could be stored over the summer in paper bags with peat moss in a cool, dark location such as a basement and then they can be planted in the fall like normal. However, because they were purchased last fall, it would be best to plant them now to let the roots grow over the summer months. There is not a guarantee that the bulbs will survive with either of these methods, but they will likely dry out if left out of the ground for a year.

5. This caller has pine trees that died due to pine wilt. He now has volunteer scotch pines coming up in the pasture, will they be immune or resistant to the disease?

A. No, all scotch pines will be subject to the disease, they will not become resistant. Volunteer scotch pines can survive for about 10 years before the disease affects them.

6. A caller has Iris’ that look good and are starting to bloom, but all of a sudden all of the leaves have spots on them. What is it and what can she do to manage it?

A. This is most likely from Iris Leaf Spot, a fungal disease. This is best controlled through sanitation such as removing infected leaves and cleaning up all of the leaf litter in the fall to remove the overwintering site. Also, be sure to water from below the plant rather than over the foliage. If the plants have grown together, it would be best to space the plants out more by dividing and replanting. Fungicides can be used when these practices are not working. Copper fungicides would be best.

7. This caller has a sunset maple that is about 25 feet tall and one half of the tree turns red earlier in the season in the fall while the rest of the tree stays green. Now that side of the tree that turns red first has very heavy seeds and isn’t looking very healthy. What, if anything, can be done for this tree?

A. Stress will cause a tree or even a portion of a tree to go into early fall color. Stress is also one of the reasons that we are seeing the heavy seed production this year in maple trees. During the discussion, it turns out that there is a stress fracture and included bark on the trunk due to co-dominant branches. In this area, there is likely decay and that is problematic on the tree. There is no good way to fix this on the tree now that it is so large. One half of the tree could be pruned off to reduce the damage from the included bark and co-dominant branching. It would take a long time for the tree to recover from this and it will look a little odd while it is recovering from this pruning.

8. A caller reseeded their lawn last fall. It was planted so it got hit by frost and did not survive. Can he spray his lawn and reseed now?

A. The weeds can be sprayed now, but it is a little late now to overseed for this spring. The fall seeding was a little too late and with the early snow we had in October, the grass was not able to survive at such a young state of growth. A similar situation would happen if seeding now, but with heat instead of cold. It would be best to overseed in late August to early September to ensure good growth before frost. For now, he could cover the ground with an annual ryegrass to keep the weeds down. When he does overseed in the fall, he can use a mesotrione product such as tenacity at seeding without harming the seed and killing off the weeds.

9. Can daylilies be planted on the south side of the garage or will it be too hot for them there?

A. Daylilies can be planted in full sun on the south side of a building and they will thrive in that location. They are tough plants. It would not be too hot for them there.

10. This caller has small holes around his sweet corn. Sometimes the seed is gone and sometimes the new plants are cut off at the ground level. What would cause this?

A. This could be from a couple of things. The plants being cut off at the ground level could be from cutworms. Cutworms can be controlled with sevin sprayed or dust sprinkled around the base of the plants. It could also be from voles or even turkeys. If voles, a snap mouse trap can be used in the runs or around the plants where they are seen. If turkeys, there isn’t a good control for them. The problem shouldn’t last the whole season.

knotweed, kim starr, starr environmental, bugwood
Prostrate Knotweed photo by Kim Starr, Starr Environmental, Bugwood.org

11. Finally, a listener texted a picture of a lawn weed to the radio station and wanted to know what it is and how it can be controlled?

A. This is knotweed. It can be controlled with a 2,4-D product.

 

Yard and Garden: April 12, 2019

Yard & Garden blog, 2019

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for April 12, 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: Stacy Adams, Associate Professor of Practice, UNL Department of Agronomy & Horticulture

1. The first caller of the show recently purchased a tree at a box store. Can it be planted now or should she wait?

A. If the tree is not leafed out yet, it would be fine to plant it outdoors. However if it is leafed out, like it turns out this tree is, it would be better to wait and put it in a shed or garage for a few more days to get through the cold nights we are supposed to face this weekend. Next week it should warm up to the 70’s and would be find to plant this tree outdoors.

2. This caller just recently moved into a new house. The yard at this house seems to have been neglected for a while and it is full of weeds. What is the best way to renovate this lawn? Should it be all killed and started again?

A. It would be better to just renovate what is existing rather than killing off the entire lawn and starting from bare soil. When the soil remains bare as new seed is started, many weeds will find their way back into the yard. A good way to renovate would be to aerate now and follow the aeration with an overseeding to improve the density of the lawn to help out compete weeds. When overseeding, a starter fertilizer can be used, there is one that contains mesotrione, a herbicide commonly known as Tenacity. This mesotrione will help combat the weeds and not harm the new seedlings. Then, in the fall, aerate and overseed again to help thicken up the lawn more. Next spring, crabgrass control can be used. Over time, the lawn will improve and weeds will begin to be reduced in population.

3. A caller has ash trees with holes in the trunk, mainly at the base of the tree. The holes are very small, maybe 1/16″. What is causing this damage? Is it Emerald Ash Borer? Can he save the trees?

A. These holes are too small to be Emerald Ash Borers (EAB). The holes for EAB are 1/8″ and they are D-shaped. With EAB, it is more likely that the damage and holes would start at the top of the tree and move their way back down the tree rather than just at the base of the tree like these holes are. This size of hole could be from a Bark Beetle. These are tiny beetles that can damage the cambium layer of our trees. Bark beetles can easily be controlled with a tree and shrub systemic insecticide containing Imidacloprid, which is common in the Merit products. For more information on the different types of insect damage, visit this page from the Nebraska Forest Service

bark beetle damage, whitney cranshaw, Colorado state Univ, bugwood
Bark Beetle damage, Photo from Whitney Cranshaw, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org

4. When is the best time to plant poppies and where should they be planted? She purchased seed and would like to plant it.

A. Poppies germinate best in cool soil temperatures, so anytime now would be a good time to get the seed spread. They need full sun, so place them in a garden that receives at least 6 hours of sunlight per day. Click Here for more information on growing poppies.

5. A caller has buffalograss growing, but it is fairly thin. What can be done to thicken it up?

A. Overseeding or adding new plugs will help to thicken the buffalograss. However, this is a warm season grass species so it should be seeded or plugged in later May to June. Fertilize should be added in the summer months as well, do not fertilize in the spring or fall when the plants should be going dormant. This guide will help, it is a Buffalograss Lawn Calendar from the UNL Turf Department.

6. The last caller of the day has Iris that was transplanted from her grandmother’s plants 15 years ago. She will now be moving sometime this summer how can she transplant these iris’ to ensure they live?

A. The best time to move Iris’ would be in the fall, but it can be done in the spring. Since you haven’t purchased the new home or sold this home, they can’t be moved now. It could be written into the purchase agreement that you can dig those up when the time is correct in September. If not, you can develop a nursery type of location. Dig them up now and put them into a cat box on the North side of the house at the new location until the fall planting time. For this spring, it would help to pamper the plants to help them with the move. Keep them watered through the year and fertilize them and cut off the flower stems before they set seed to help them put energy into the rest of the plant rather than seed production. If you have to move them in the summer, just make sure you keep them well watered.

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 3, 2015

Yard and Garden Green LogoThis is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for July 3, 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: Julie Albrecht, Professor in Health and Nutrition Sciences at UNL

1. A caller had a Bradford Pear tree with brown limbs on approximately 1/4 of the tree. What would be causing that?

A: This is probably due to fireblight which has been very common in many of our fruit trees this year, including pear and crabapple. If that is the case, prune out the infected limbs by cutting 6-8 inches behind the change in color on the branch from brown to black. Dip pruners into bleach water between each cut to reduce the spread of the disease through the tree.

2. The first caller also has moles in her yard, how can she control them?

A: Moles can be controlled by trapping. Find an active run by tapping the mounds down a few times prior to placing the trap in the run. If the mound returns each time it is knocked back into the hole, it is active and the mole will come back after the trap is set. For more information see the Moles publication from the Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management.

3. A caller has a pond that has a lot of moss. How can this be controlled?

A: Copper Sulfate Crystals will work best on algae/moss. It is best if it is applied when the growth first becomes visible.

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

4. A gentleman wanted to know how to control nutsedge?

A: The best control for nutsedge is Sedgehammer, a product that is specific to sedges. It needs to be reapplied throughout the growing season to small plantings before they produce new nutlets that will produce more plants.

5. A gentleman has an ash tree that has many shriveled leaves with insects on the underside of the leaves. What can he do to control these insects?

A: These are probably lacebugs or aphids. Use a general insecticide such as sevin, eight, or malathion to control these insects on the ash tree. Lacebugs and aphids suck the juices out of the tree which will cause discoloration and curling leaves.

6. A lady has tomatoes that are curling and shriveling, she didn’t notice any insects or spots on the leaves. What would be causing this?

A: This could be possibly a virus or 2,4-D drift. If it is herbicide drift, the plants will grow out of it eventually and the new growth should be normal. If it is a virus there is no cure and the plant will continue to grow abnormally.

7. A lady has a mandevilla plant that has leaves that are turning yellow with spots. What would cause this problem?

A: This could be due to environmental factors such as high moisture early in the growing season or due to a fungal leaf spot. Ensure that the plant is getting the correct amount of moisture at all times. Use a fungicide on the plant to help with a fungal disease, Daconil is a good choice for fungicide.

8. A gentleman is curious about vegetable preservation techniques. Do you have to blanch all vegetables that you will be freezing and will you lose nutrients when you blanch these vegetables?

A: Blanching is necessary for all vegetables to stop growth and stop enzyme production that can cause the vegetables to lose flavor. Blanching also helps maintain the freshness and color in your vegetables. Blanching only needs to be done for a very short period of time, followed by plunging the produce into ice water to stop the cooking process. After it is drained, the vegetables can be put into freezer bags for freezing. For more information regarding food preservation, visit the National Center for Home Food Preservation for the safest recommended procedures for food preservation.

9. A lady has some trees that have been planted in the past couple of years and now it looks as if something has come and eat the top off of the trees. Now there is suckering at the base of the plant. What would have chewed on these trees and can those suckers be used to grow a new tree?

A: Deer is likely the culprit for chewing off the trees. The best control for deer would be to add some type of fencing to exclude deer from the trees. The suckers are coming up at the base of the plant because the top has likely died back which forced the trees to produce suckers for new growth. The suckers may be weak or not grow straight, but with additional help a new tree may be able to regrow from the suckers. It might be best for new trees to be planted for best growth and strongest trees.

10. A caller dug out their pond and moved some of the soil to a garden spot. The vegetables growing there are growing but have no fruits on them. What would cause this?

A: This is likely due to high nitrogen that came from the soil at the bottom of the lake. Nitrogen is a nutrient that will cause green leafy growth that can sometimes suppress vegetable production. I would suggest a soil test to determine what to do with the garden to help production improve.

Roseslug Collage
Photo on the left of the roseslug on the underside of the leaf, Photo on the right of the damage from roseslugs

11. A caller has roseslugs on his roses. They have destroyed about 80% of the leaves on the plant. What can be done about this?

A: If a roseslug population is low, control is not necessary. However, this sounds excessive so a controlling spray with a general insecticide such as Eight will work for these roseslugs. Be careful to not spray the rose flowers to reduce impact on pollinator insects.

12. When is the best time to transplant Iris’?

A: Fall is the best time for transplanting Iris and Peonies. Transplanting now would be difficult because when they get moved they have limited roots and in the hot, dry part of the summer it would be hard to keep the plants hydrated enough to keep it alive.

13. A caller has cherry trees that have much of the cherry crop as rotten fruits hanging on the trees. What would cause this?

A: This is brown rot, it is a fungal disease that is common in cherry trees this year due to the wet spring. There is no control for it at this time. Fungicides should be applied early in the spring to prevent this disease.

14. A caller has a cherry tree that one side of it has died. What has caused this problem? He did have some damage occur to the trees a few years ago due to cattle foraging through the area.

A: The cattle likely injured the bark of the tree causing it to get a canker on the trunk. The canker would cause a disruption in the flow of water and nutrients throughout the tree. There is no cure for the canker. He can try to prune out the dead branches and see if it will come out of it in the next couple of years.