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Past Questions and Answers | June 2014

Question #1

Question:  How much direct sun do green beans require? How many hours a day? Cover them in temperature over 100 degrees? I have patio garden - using pots.

  Jean Slater, Henderson, Nevada


ANSWER:   Green beans require at least six hours a day. You can use shade cloth in very high temperatures to prevent them from burning up.

Question #2

Question:  Planted gardenias last fall. They appear to have been affected by the winter weather - brown leaves. Can they be pruned or should I just replace them?

  Jim Murphy, Franklin County, NC


ANSWER:   Just replace them. Many people have written that their gardenias froze last winter.

Question #3

Question:  I am a parent at a small school outside Philadelphia. The school was an apple orchard in the past, and still has perhaps 20 apple trees distributed around its seven acre campus. We are purchasing a tree in honor of an outgoing head of school, and have been offered the following choices by a local reseller: #7 Granny Smith, Gala, Blushing Delight, Golden Treat, Tangy Treat or Yellow Delicious.

I'm wondering if you could help us make a choice. Here are our primary criteria:

• Harvest in late September. This is important because that's when we celebrate Apple Day.

• Hardy and disease/pest resistant. I don't think the school will use insecticide.

• Pollination-There are perhaps 20 apple trees at the school. They are distributed across a seven acre campus. It is likely that the new tree will not be closer than 50 yards to another apple tree. I'm also not sure of the varieties, though I do think there are several.

• Use-We use the apples for cider, baking, and just plain eating.

Thanks so much for your help!

  Rob Oaks, Swarthmore, PA


ANSWER:   Golden delicious and Gala ripen in September. Gala ripens in early September depending on the precious variety and golden delicious ripens in late September.

Question #4

Question:  What is the pH I need for jersey hybrid asparagus in juneau AK? Juneau is in the tongus rain forest. Yrs. "12" & "13" mostly rain and salt water sprea. "13" & "14"winter a deep freeze weeks at a time. My asparagus roots dryed up, died.What have I done wrong?

  Terry Don Flinders, Juneau, Alaska


ANSWER:   The salt spray did in your asparagus. It doesn’t tolerate salt well. It needs a ph of 6.5-7.5/

Question #5

Question:  New gardener...what non pricking shrub would be good to grow in my clay soil?

  Charlene McChesney, W, WI


ANSWER:   Wisconsin zones range from 3a to 5b, so a more precise location would be helpful in answering your question. However, the University of Wisconsin has a list of shrubs that you can look through to pick one that will work for you. Most of them will grow in clay soil if you add compost to it to enrich it and help it drain.

Question #6

Question:  I have a potted lilac tree in bloom. How do I prune it after it has finished blooming. It is getting very rangy.

  Thelma Douglas, South Surrey, British Columbia


ANSWER:   Trim it to a pleasing shape by removing any old canes, diseased canes, suckers, and cut back canes to eye level. Cut weak canes to a strong bud.

Question #7

Question:  What do I put on Liliac bush to enhance the growth and provide blooms .When do I prune it?

  Jim Gordon, Lower Newcastle, New Brunswick


ANSWER:   You prune Lilacs right after they finish blooming. You need to put good compost around the plant each spring, then spread mulch over that. Do not fertilize except with a sparing application of 10-10-10 in late winter.

Question #8

Question:  Will CA ground squirrels eat geranium plants in wine barrel planters ~ 2 ft. off the ground?

  Mary Able, McArthur, CA


ANSWER:   Yes. You can cover them with a dome of chicken wire to stop the little critters from being able to reach the plants.

Question #9

Question:  How can I kill Bermuda grass in my lawn that is mostly another type of grass grass?

  Leah Cottrell, Elkview, WV


ANSWER:   You can use herbicides with the active ingredients sethoxydim or fluazifop . Make sure the label says it is safe to use in St. Augustine. You should treat the grass in early spring when it is small. You will have to reapply the herbicide several times before the Bermuda grass will die.

Question #10

Question:  When and what do I use to fertilize my Day Lilies ?

You need to have a soil test to determine what your soil contains in the way of nutrients in order to know what to add. You can get soil test information from your county Extension agent. Most plants need Nitrogen, but only a soil test will tell you what else to add.

Also when and what do I use to fertilize my Peach trees ?

  Donald Hoch, Clermong, New York


ANSWER:   Peach trees should be fertilized once in the early spring and again in late spring or early summer. Use a fertilizer formulated for fruit trees. You should be able to find it at your local home improvement store.

Question #11

Question:  What is the best fertilizer for tomatoes i've been using 10-10-10

  Glenn Whitehead, Ridgeville, SC


ANSWER:   The best fertilizer for tomatoes depends on your soil. You should have a soil test to determine what nutrients are present and what you need. You can get soil test information from your county Extension agent. That said, you want a fertilizer low in Nitrogen, high in Phosphorus, and medium in Potassium. Among the best analyses for tomatoes are 8-32-16 and 6-24-24. Avoid using ammonia fertilizers such as urea or ammonium nitrate for tomato fertilization

Question #12

Question:  Last spring I planted 3 rose bushes. So far this spring there is not any buds or green on them at all. Did they not make it over the winter or could there still be hope for them?

  Karen Werner, Sumner, Iowa


ANSWER:   They probably died over the winter. Give them a month, then if they have not put out leaves, declare them dead and replant.

Question #13

Question:  Over the weekend my husband and I observed that many of the earliest spring bloomers are lavender in color. What is the science?

  Kim Eckman, Sewickley, Pa


ANSWER:   It probably has to do with attracting native bees and other pollinators that are attracted to that color. The lavender signals that they have nectar and it is time to check them out.

Question #14

Question:  I have beautiful copper window boxes on the front of my home that are about 2 1/2 ft long, 8" wide and 8" deep. It gets full sun and gets very hot. I have natural liners that are supposed to retain some moisture. Can you give me ideas as to what would survive in the small space and the extreme heat? I'm in lower Virginia. Thank you !!

  Linda Sobey, Bracey, Virginia


ANSWER:   You may have to move the planters to partial shade and plant shade loving plants in them. The metal will heat the planter too hot for most plants to survive. You might consider desert plants, which can be beautiful and stand extreme heat. You can look at our article High temperature flowers for hot summer areas for specific ideas.

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Planting Depth

As a general rule, most bulbs are planted at a depth that is equal to 3 times their diameter at their widest point.

Tulips like to be planted about 6 inches (15.2 cm) deep and 4-6 inches (10.2-15.2 cm) apart.

Always plant bulbs as soon as possible after purchase to prevent them from drying out.

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