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Past Questions and Answers | August 2013

Question #1

Question:  My pole beans were planted just after Memorial day, they are growing well but no beans or flowers. Is there anything I can do to get them to produce or is it a lost season?

  Pat Bozeat Port Byron, NY


ANSWER:   If vegetables are growing with an excess of nitrogen, they will often grow great plants but have few blooms. Stop fertilizing the plants and see if that helps.

Question #2

Question:  Have nice cucumber plants lots of cucumber but almost not edible due to bitterness,what is the reason? thank you

  Doris Rodriguez, Sacramento, Ca


ANSWER:   What variety of cucumber did you plant? Most cucumbers are bitter and are meant to be pickled, not eaten fresh. Grow a variety such as Burpeeā€™s Burpless that is intended to be eaten fresh and is not bitter. Also, peel the cucumber before eating since much of the bitterness is in the peel.

Question #3

Question:  I have a green powdery residue coming from my compost bin, lots of it, is it harmful to the rest of my garden??

  Kenneth John Evans, Tonypandy South Wales


ANSWER:   It sounds like mold spores. Are you keeping the compost very wet? Lighten up on the water and turn the compost over weekly to heat it up. If the compost is moist (not soggy) and is turned regularly it will produce enough heat to kill the mold spores and they will no longer be a problem.

Question #4

Question:  I have planted a beautiful new clematis in my garden and have many new flowers, unfortunately it is being eaten, not only the flowers but the leaves also. Is this the earwig problem or have I got some other pest as well. The clematis is called Florida Sieboldii, white with purple centre of stamens.

Any ideas how to keep pets from eating it please

  Joan Merriott, Brentwood, United Kingdom


ANSWER:   It could be earwigs. You can spray the plant with a pyrethrin based insecticide such as deltamethrin (Bayer Sprayday Greenfly Killer) or lambda-cyhalothrin (Westland Plant Rescue Fruit & Vegetable Bug Killer) to kill the earwigs. Spray in the evening when they are more likely to be active.

Question #5

Question:  I planted 2 pink peonies and 1 white tree, they were doing well, growing and now they have withered up what do I do now.

  Lin Etienne, London, England


ANSWER:   It sounds like they need more water. You must water them every week the whole first year of their life so that their roots get well established.

Question #6

Question:  I moved a mature apple tree last spring, it did fairly well even producing apples, but this year, there is only ONE branch that has a few leaves,what should I do?

  Bett Kazimierski, Cochrane, Ontario


ANSWER:   Moving a mature tree is risky. Sometimes they do not make it. It sounds like your tree is dying. You should call a qualified arborist in your area to evaluate it and see if it can be saved.

Question #7

Question:  My recently planted veg. garden is doing great. However, I feel the large leaves and shoots, runaway stringers are taking energy from growing vegetables. May I trim back branches and leaves without blossoms and not hurt the plant?

  Tom Martin, Sonoma, California


ANSWER:   You can trim the branches and leaves without hurting the plant. In fact, many people do so.

Question #8

Question:  Can I plant zinnia, hollyhock, & nastursium seed in the come up in the spring?

  Nancy Wilson, Ontario, Oregon


ANSWER:   If you plant the seed in the fall, the plants will sprout in the fall and begin to grow. They will then freeze during the winter. You will need to plant them in the spring.

Question #9

Question:  I am trying to get rid of snails and I have pets. So I tried the ammonia thing and next morning... there they are ON Top of my flowers munching away! The information didn't say how much to spray or how often? and do you spray on ground? on plant? The cornmeal seemed to catch a few, but they are still eating my Mums and Hydrangeas? HELP!!!

  Jenny Black, Bandon, Oregon


ANSWER:   There is a new slug bait that is based on iron instead of the old copper slug bait. It is much less toxic to pets. The bait is sold as Escargo and Sluggo in the United States. It is fairly successful in eliminating slugs and snails.

Question #10

Question:  I have an avacado tree in a pot I started from seed in potting soil as a novelty. It sits on my east facing porch. Lately, the leaves turn brown at the tips and continue toward the trunk until they fall off. New leaves emerge but with the same problem. I spray it occasionally with insecticidal soap and inspect it for pests but have found none. Do you have any idea what the problem might be?

  Mike Monson, Moore, Oklahoma


ANSWER:   It may be getting sunburned. How much sun is it getting and how hot is it? Avocados prefer mild temperatures and will sunburn if they are in full sun in the heat of the day. Try moving your pot into shade in the afternoon and just leaving in the sun in the morning and see if that does not solve your problem.

Question #11

Question:  My bushbeans looked great, and healthy,until I got a full weak of solid rain. In about two days they laid down , leaves rolled over, and they look as though they are dying,are they diseased, too much water?

  David Young, Pleasant Plain, Ohio


ANSWER:   They drowned. Roots need water, but they also need oxygen and a week of solid rain would drown the roots. When the ground dries out the plants may come back if part of the roots stayed alive. Keep them moist but not soggy and see if that helps.

Question #12

Question:  I am growing tomatoes. When they start to get ripe the whole inside gets rotten just before it is time for them to get ripe. What happened? What should I do?

  Carl Bagwell, Jackson, MS


ANSWER:   It sounds like you have blossom end rot. This is caused by a calcium deficiency linked to water stress. Too much water or too little water can cause it. Tomatoes should be watered twice a week when bearing. They may be fertilized with calcium nitrate to provide extra calcium to prevent blossom end rot if necessary.

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When to Harvest Squash

Winter squash is ready for harvest after the rind hardens and surface color dulls.

The vines will have dried and the skins are hard and can't be scratched with a fingernail.

Make sure you get them in before the first hard frost.

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