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Past Questions and Answers | March 2015

Question #1

Question:  Last year I watered my garden in morning, but due to high temperatures in the day, they looked wilted around noon - should I water them again later in the day?

  Sharon Smith, Chewelah, WA


ANSWER:   How much are you watering in the morning? Any time you water, you should water one inch of water at a time. If you put down that much water in the morning, it should last two or three days before the plants need to be watered again, even in high temperatures. Some plants will wilt in high temperatures as a survival instinct but perk up in the evening when things cool off, so wilting doesn.t necessarily mean they are dying.

Question #2

Question:  Hi, love your post, very informative, how can I eliminate the tree of heaven, this tree is growing everywhere in my yard. Thank-you very much.

  Pete Vasquez, King City, CA


ANSWER:   Tree of heaven is hard to kill. You must cut them down and paint the stump with Roundup. You will probably have to cut suckers off the stumps and do the same thing with the Roundup a few times before the stump finally dies.

Question #3

Question:  How do you destroy squash bugs i have tried everything and just as my plants are ready to produce the wilt and die{cucumbers and zucchini}

  Kandy Kane, Harrington, DE


ANSWER:   The best way to rid yourself of squash bugs is a combination of handpicking the egg masses off the bottom of the leaves near where they join the stem, or in the crown of the plant, and completely soaking the plant in neem oil. Make sure you get the underside of the leaves well in addition to the top side or it won.t help. You should also remove any debris around your garden that allows squash bugs a place to over winter or hide during the growing season. Boards and things like that are especially attractive to squash bugs.

Question #4

Question:  Does the use of chlorinated city water kill the beneficial microbes that we all add when we apply compost?

  Daryl Hensley, Houston, Texas


ANSWER:   It isn't good for them. That is why catching rain water and using it to water your plants is much better than using city water. If you can't catch rain water, let the city water sit overnight so the chlorine evaporates before you put it on your plants. This may not be practical for a big yard, and the chlorine doesn't kill all the microbes, so watering is better than not watering.

Question #5

Question:  Can I prune my caesalpinia ferrea safely from 10 meters to 5 meters. Thank you.

  John Feniwick, Cape Town, South Africa


ANSWER:   No. You should prune no more than one-third of the tree any given year. You can trim it from 10 meters to 6.33 meters safely.

Question #6

Question:  I have a rhododendron plant that 90% of the leaves have dried up and look dead. There are a few buds with fresh leaves coming out and some leaves at the base of the plant. I watered it a few times in the winter. It freezes here in the winter but it's been very mild lately. There's some peat moss mixed in the planting hole. What could be causing the dead brittle leaves?

  Mignon Moskowitz, Bishop , CA


ANSWER:   Cold, dry winds will dry out and kill the leaves. Simply cut them off and let the new leaves grow back. It won't hurt the plant.

Question #7

Question:  Asian aphid infestation left black mold all over my crepe myrtles. How do I get the mold off the bark and how do I stop them in the future?

  Judy, Waller, Tennessee


ANSWER:   Insecticidal soap will both control the aphids and wash away the black mold from your crape myrtle trees. You can use it now without a problem. However, the best way to keep the aphids from coming back is to plant flowers around your crape myrtle trees that shelter lady beetles, lace wings, and other natural enemies of aphids and let them keep the infestation under control. Only when it overwhelms the natural enemies should you use the insecticidal soap during the time when aphid's natural enemies are around.

Question #8

Question:  I am starting a lawn mowing service and have not found an answer to this question. How do I protect clients from transporting a lawn disease with my mower when mowing multiple lawns per day? I plan to clean my deck nightly.

(I prefer to mulch, not bag, because I have been successful with this type of lawn care for past 23 years.)

Thank you in advance for your assistance.

  Erik Brinkmann, Pagosa Springs & Grand Junction, CO


ANSWER:   Wash your mower blades with a solution of nine parts water and one part bleach between each client to sterilize the blades and avoid carrying diseases between clients. You should wash clippers and other tools that contact plants in the same solution between clients to avoid carrying diseases on them, too.

Question #9

Question:  Had a major problem with potato bugs last year Any suggestions to eliminate them or at least keep them under control Thank you

  Helen Ruby, Orillia, Ontario


ANSWER:   Do you mean potato bugs or potato beetles? Potato bugs are also called Jerusalem crickets. They can damage fruit and vegetables in the garden and can become a real problem by chewing holes in drip tape. They are not poisonous, but they have very strong jaws and will bite if handled carelessly or squeezed. If control is needed, start by cleaning up trash, dead grass, leaf litter, etc., around your home and garden. If further efforts are needed, a cricket bait should help reduce the population

Potato beetles are an entirely different problem. You can kill them with a rotation of using one type of insecticide one time, and another type of insecticide from another class of insecticides another time. You can use Sevin, New Spectracide, Thiodan, or other insecticides labeled for potato bugs and the vegetables you are treating.

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