This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for June 7, 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: John Porter, Urban Ag Program Coordinator with Nebraska Extension
1. The first question of the show was from tomatoes that had odd shaped leaves. What would cause that?
A. This is from herbicide drift. 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. A caller has moths in his house. He had brought in a sample previously for us to identify. What kind of moth is it and how can he get rid of it?
A. This insect is an Indian Meal Moth, a common pantry pest. This could have been brought in with foods purchased at the grocery store. Be sure to store all products containing cereal, grain, rice, flour, or pasta in air tight, insect proof containers such as canisters or Tupperware containers. Things like cake mixes or flour can be stored in the freezer. Clean up all cabinet shelves from crumbs. Discard infested food products. For more information on Pantry Pests, visit this website from Lancaster County Extension.
3. This caller has hosta plants that are getting holes in the leaves. What would cause this?
A. This is likely from slugs. They can be controlled by pushing a shallow container into the ground near the hostas so that the top of the container is at soil level. Fill the container with stale beer and it will attract the slugs so they fall into the container and die. You can also put cardboard over the ground at night and then pick it up during the day to kill the slugs underneath. There is also a product for slug control, called sluggo.
4. A caller has pampas grass that is dying from the center and would like to kill it. How can that be done?
A. If the dead center is what is bothering you, dig up the plant and divide it into multiple smaller plants. Pampas grass often gets a dead center with age and just needs to be divided. If you still want to kill it, cut it short and spray it with roundup or other glyphosate product to kill it over time. You can also try cutting it back and keeping a layer of mulch on it to smother the plant to death.
5. This caller has a maple seedling forest in their lawn. What can be done to kill all these maple trees?
A. Keep mowing over them, they will die. They don’t have enough roots to keep living after being mowed off.
6. How fast will maple seedlings to grow, if he decides to try to cultivate one or two of these seedlings for a new tree?
A. They are tiny, so it will take quite a while, but it can be done. However, these seeds are most likely from silver maples, that is more of a weedy species of maple tree. They grow easily and fast and therefore often break a lot of branches in storms. There would be better maple choices than silver maples such as Sugar maple or Red maple.
7. The next question came from another walk-in listener who brought in a weed for identification.
A. This is goutweed which is also called Bishop’s weed. There are ornamental varieties of this plant. However, if it is growing where it was not planted it is a weed and glyphosate or Roundup will work on that. If it is below 80 degrees for three days, you can spray 2,4-D. Don’t spray 2,4-D if it is too hot or humid because it can turn into a gas and move to non-target plants.
8. A caller has a spruce tree that is 30 feet tall. At the top of the tree it had red structures that now look like bagworms. She sprayed. Are those bagworms and should she spray again?
A. These are actually the cones of the tree. There are male and female cones on spruce trees. The cones can start out pink and then turn into a cone and the other cones are smaller. It is too soon for bagworms to be out this year. So you will need to spray for bagworms again in a couple of weeks when they hatch if you also have a problem with bagworms.
9. The next caller has a peach tree that was a volunteer from a seed pit. It now is loaded with peaches developing on the branches. Should it be thinned?
A. Yes, they should be thinned. Too many peaches on the branch can pull the branch down and break it which would be very damaging to the tree. Also, if you thin the peaches it can increase the size and sugar content. Thin them to only one per cluster and one peach every 6-8 inches along the branches.
10. A caller planted a new yard this spring. Now he has noticed a weed with a small yellow flower growing in it. What can he spray on his lawn to control this weed?
A. This could be either black medic, sorrel, or a sweet clover. These weeds are all controlled best in the fall of the year with a 2,4-D product. You can spray the entire yard in mid-September and again in mid-October for best control. Spraying now could be too hot causing the 2,4-D to turn into a gas and move to non-target plants. Also, spraying now won’t get a full kill on the plant, it will just burn back for a while.
11. This caller wants to know how to control voles in his lawn?
A. Place snap-type mouse traps in the runs of the voles. Place them perpendicular to the run. They can be baited with peanut butter or nothing at all. If there are neighborhood cats around, place a box with small openings on both ends around the traps to avoid harming the cats.
He also wanted to know why the needles on his pine trees are brown?
A. This is likely from Dothistroma needle blight. For best results the trees should be sprayed with a copper fungicide in mid-May and again in mid to late June. Spraying now would help reduce the spread, but spray earlier next year.
12. A caller wants to know why if he has plastic landscape sheets covered with mulch that slugs can get through that? Also, where can you buy sluggo?
A. The plastic and mulch make for a good environment for the slugs. They are able to hide under that during the day where it is dark and cool and they can climb out through the holes around the plants. It would be better to remove the plastic. Sluggo should be available at hardware stores, it is a granule product.
13. This caller has 2 Asian pears with ants and wasps in the fruit. The fruit also turns brown and fall off the trees. What is causing this and how can it be controlled?
A. The ants and wasps are not related to the fruit falling from the trees. The ants and wasps are also not harmful to the fruit development. The ants may be on the tree if there are aphids on the tree. Aphids produce honeydew as an excrement and the ants follow the aphids around to feed on the honeydew. The fruits falling from the trees could be from brown rot caused by weather conditions. Use a copper fungicide or orchard fruit spray with fungicide to help prevent this from occurring.
14. Can you divide and move lilacs?
A. This type of plant wouldn’t divide well. However you can start new plants by layering which is where you pull down on one branch and stake it into the ground nearby until it produces roots. Once the roots develop, you can cut it from the main plant and move it to another location. Lilacs can be transplanted, but it should be done in the fall.
15. The final caller of the show has peach trees with a lot of peaches. As they are maturing, they get a brown mold. What is causing this?
A. This is a disease called brown rot. It can be controlled with fungicide sprays. Apply the fungicide multiple times through the season. You can use an orchard fruit tree spray through the growing season every 10-14 days to control insect and disease issues.
He also wanted to know what to do when planting rhubarb to ensure success?
A. Plant it in well-drained soil because rhubarb gets root rot if it sits in water. Add compost when planting for fertility. Plant it so the crown is a little above the ground level, it often gets planted too deep which can cause crown rot as well. Other than that, it is fairly easy to grow. Be sure to wait 3 years before harvesting from the plant to allow the roots time to become fully established.