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Past Questions and Answers | July 2017

Question #1

Question:  I would like to braid a wisteria to eventually become a fence .how long will it take the vine to reach a circumference of 2 or 3 in.? I grew up with one that had twisted and braided itself over many years and loved the look and feel of it

  Michele Matthews, Unadilla, Ga


ANSWER:   Many years is the key here. I cannot tell you exactly how long it will take to achieve your goal because that depends on growing contditions. However, wisteria grows quickly and can girdle trees and pull down privacy fences with its weight. Be sure and start your fence where it cannot cause you such problems.

Question #2

Question:  Hello, my name is Ben and my question has to do with my fig trees. They were brought producing California stock. They have been planted since 2014 and have been setting fruit since 2015. The trees bear plenty of fruit but none get to the ripen stage. They grow to the size of a fifty cent piece and then dehydrate and fall to the ground no matter whether they are the white or black variety. I've checked with my local extension office and were of no help. They told me that they were over watered, under watered, too much fertilizer, not enough fertilizer, not in ground long enough to be established. You name it they had a reason but none have helped. I even went to the drastic practice of cutting them down and hope for the new shoots to produce. No luck. The figs that achieve the fifty cent size are beautifully green on the outside, but dry on the inside. I don't know the different varieties of my figs so I can't help you out there. Can you help me to have some figs once again before I leave this wonderful earth of ours? Thank you very much for your time, Ben Di Gaudio. By the way, I am 77 years young at heart but old in body.

  Ben, Kingman, AZ


ANSWER:   This sounds like a pollination problem. As honey bees have had problems and counties spray for mosquitoes, honey bees are having a hard time. Fewer honey bees mean less of our food crops get pollinated. One thing you can try is planting flowers that bees like around your figs to draw the bees to them. The Xerces Society has lists of bee friendly plants on its website.

Question #3

Question:  Have some old Grape vines that produce some grapes Chardonnay. Howe do I care for them so they produce again?

  Mary Lou Kapfhammer, Owensboro, Kentucky


ANSWER:   In order to bring your old grapevines into production again, you will need to prune them. This must be done in the winter to early spring. Assuming the vines are trained to a trellis, cut the two arms back to the main trunk. This will stimulate it to produce new arms. Take the best two arms and train them to the trellis. In a year or two, the grapes should begin producing grapes again. Remember that grapes grow on new growth and so grapevines must be pruned yearly, although they won’t need such drastic pruning again.

Question #4

Question:  For 12 years my zoysia lawn has been thick and beautiful. This spring it did not come back as usual. Every blade of it was dead. What would kill all it over the winter and what should I do before I resod it?

  Jim Lauby, Spicewood


ANSWER:   Zoysia is susceptible to viruses that will kill it. You need to dig up a three inch by three inch plug from your lawn and take it to your county extension office. They will be able to send it to a specialist who can diagnose your problem and give you a plan to fix it.

Question #5

Question:  Last year I bought and planted a "snowball bush". It seemed to disappear over the winter, but it has grown out again this spring. It has two main stems and they are about two feet all. I would like to know if there is something I need to do to train it to fill out like a bush; or is it going to remain just two branches?

  Lynn Fumiss, Toms River, New Jersey


ANSWER:   You need to pinch the ends of each of the two branches. Pinch them hard enough to crush the tender end of each branch. You only need to crush the inch at the end. This will stimulate these branches to grow more branches which you can prune into a bush.

Question #6

Question:  Hi. I live in Central Florida and I have a huge, 2 ft. diameter 300 year old Live Oak tree in my back yard. It is sprawling and beautiful. In the last few years it has gone downhill and there is rotting in one limb and the bark is starting to peel off on the trunk. Lately it has grown green mold on a couple of limbs near the trunk. I love this tree and I don't want to lose it., What can I do to restore it's health? Thank you very much for any advice you can give me.

  Joyce, Lady Lake


ANSWER:   Your tree is in serious trouble. You need to hire an arborist to come and diagnose the problem and suggest a treatment for the tree. Make sure the person is a certified arborist and not just a tree trimmer. You can find them in the phone book under tree trimming or by calling your local county Extension agent and getting a list of them from the agent.

Question #7

Question:  RE: leaf jumpers...never had them before, lived here 2 years. We live ink a 2nd floor condo so we have nothing to spray. They could be in the trees surrounding us. My question: what is their lifespan? We have had them covering our porch on the west side of the condo. All neighbors have them. We cannot use the porch. They come right through the screens. I am hoping in a few weeks they will go away. Am I hoping for too much?

  Sue, San Jose, CA


ANSWER:   They are migrating between their spring and summer breeding grounds. Because so much land has been left fallow due to drought, they are not finding plants to sustain them. They are looking for water and pile up alive and dead. You can vacuum them up, seal the vacuumed bugs up in a trash bag, and throw them away. Pesticides won’t help. This generation’s lifespan is most of the summer.

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Rotate Certain Crops

Avoid planting potatoes and tomatoes where they grew last year. They carry the same diseases, so it's best to rotate them.

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