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Past Questions and Answers | August 2018

Question #1

Question:  You mentioned earlier that mulch should be so many inches away from the plant or tree. What about Impatients? I am questioning whether the mulch would be harmful to the flowering plants that "root along" in the ground as they grow as many of mine do such as Assylum reseeds itself an although they are considered annuals they will regrow from the seeds. I have impatients this year from seeds of lasts years plants that grew by themselves- cool huh! But I don't want to mess it up if the mulch gets in their way? What do you think?

  MA, Pennsylvania


ANSWER:   Adding mulch is a double-edged sword. The purpose of the mulch is to control the weeds and keep the soil moist. But, adding mulch to an area that you hope will reseed can decrease and/or prevent any of the seeds from germinating, depending on when it is put on. If you wait until early summer, you can pretty much set of the fact that nothing else is going to germinate. At this point you can add the mulch because you will not be burying the seeds too deep. Again, it is up to you and what your goal is for that garden space.

Question #2

Question:  I started a new grape vine this year and would like to know why the grapes are turning brown, one by one. I found out that I wasn't supposed to let grapes grow yet, but the vines are growing like crazy. Should I cut off the grapes, and how and when should I prune? I used a systemic solution for grape aphids, since I found a few leaves with warts.

  Marolyn Merwine, Springfield, Ohio


ANSWER:   You have a fungus on the grapes due to the fact that the environment is too wet and the leaves are blocking the sun, which could dry the moisture off the fruit. Pruning of the canes should occur in the winter but you have not told me what pruning approach you are using so I cannot give you any more advice on that. But throughout the growing season, the leaves of the grape vine can and should be pruned to reduce the fungus on the fruit.

Question #3

Question:  I have tried to propagate my Moms seven sisters rose with no results, it didn't take and rotted away in just a few days, I used tha softwood cuttings, I obviously did something wrong, is there another way of doing it . Thank you for any help you can give me.

  Yolande Davidson, Nashua NH


ANSWER:   No, there is no other way but if I had to guess the planting medium was too wet.

Question #4

Question:  My peppers look yellow what is causing this? Have amended soil for years and have a drip system.

  Ok, I am not sure if you are telling me the fruit of the pepper plant is yellow or the leaves are yellow. I will assume that you are referring to the leaves. There are several reasons for yellowing leaves. Since you are using a drip system to water, I am going to eliminate a disease problem. You could have an issue with watering and/or feeding or pest problem. While you said you amended the soil for years, you did not tell me with what so I cannot say whether the plants are getting what they need.

The other issue you can have is damage from mites, aphids, or psylids. You can apply neem oil, which is organic and will not hurt people, pets, or beneficial insects. But this late in the season, I would not bother. There really is not that much time left.


ANSWER:   AB, Littleton, CO

Question #5

Question:  We have a raised garden. My cucumbers and acorn squash plants aren't doing the greatest. The dukes have like white dust on some leaves and then some are a funny yellow color. My squash the bottom leaves are dead, Some of the flowers are dying. Help

  Tina Cruikshank, North Pitcher, NY


ANSWER:   Your cucumbers are suffering from powdery mildew, which is caused by a too moist environment. While your beds drain well, the problem can stem from plants being planted too close together or lying on damp soil. The best approach is to get the plants up off the ground so air can move around the stem. Remove all the leaves if possible that have the white powder and yellow color.

Your acorn squash is suffering from two things. First bacterial wilt and I would suspect vine bores. The treatment for this late in the season is to let the plants go. You may be able to harvest something but if the blooms keep dying just pull the plant(s) up. This plant disease spreads and can wipe out all your acorn squash and cucumbers.

Question #6

Question:  I've planted pole beans and they are doing great. when I went to water them today it looks like they are getting a rust color on the leaves. What could be causing this?

  Lonnie, Sulphur, LA


ANSWER:   A fungus called rust has taken hold. This is due to cool temperatures and moist mornings. The organic approach is to remove all the leaves that have the rust-color on them.

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Purple Knight Alternanthera

This ground cover likes partial sun to full sun.

It grows 16 to 20 inches (40-50 cm) tall, and 2 to 3 feet (60-90 cm) wide. It is very heat tolerant.

Its beautiful purple leaves make an excellent accent plant in the garden.

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