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Past Questions and Answers | May 2012

Question #1

Question:  I have a self sown pumpkin vine which has produced pumpkins which are butternut shaped but about twice the size of your average butternut. They all have the distinctive butternut shape, with the bigger (base) end much larger than the neck. When young, they were deep green & cream striped but as they matured, the green faded & the cream darkened to a bit lighter than the average butternut.

I thought they might be the Cushaw variety but they do not have the narrow, crooked neck.

I have just cut the first one and it has very dark pumpkin colour flesh which smells wonderful.

Tomorrow, half of it will be pumpkin soup.

Any idea what variety it could be?

It looks like a cross between Butternut & Jap Pumpkin.

  Bob Kershaw, Abbey, Western Australia


ANSWER:   Without a picture, I cannot tell you for sure what you have. There are hundreds of squash varieties and most of them are good to eat.

Question #2

Question:  Is there something I can use to stop the deer from eating my flowers? (tulips). I would prefer to use something natural or homemade that won't hurt the plants.

  Mary Olson, Superior, Wisconsin


ANSWER:   Texas A&M University has done extensive research on deer problems, and the only thing that seems to help is motion sensor sprinklers that spray a sudden high pressure burst of water at the deer when they get too near them. No other repellent or deterrent has been found to work, and A&M has tested everything from hair to coyote urine.

Question #3

Question:  All of my iris are the same color. even though i have added other colors to the group they still come out and bloom a large purple color . is this caused by pollination?

  Dallas Kelsey, Owasso, Oklahoma


ANSWER:   This usually means they are overcrowded. In the fall, dig them out and separate them so that they have more room, and they will usually begin to bloom with more colors again.

Question #4

Question:  I am moving cross-country and taking 42 young tree roses with me. I planted them in 5-gallon plastic tubs since I knew that I was moving. My plants will take up too much room on the moving truck so I'm thinking I should take them out and wrap the roots in burlap and just stack them, but first pruning them about a third. Could you please give me some suggestions?

Thank you.



ANSWER:   Generally, bare root transplants are only successful when the plants are dormant. Pulling them and wrapping them in burlap will be a major shock and you will lose many of them. However, if that is your only option, keep the burlap damp so the roots do not dry out and plant them as soon as possible in the new location.

Question #5

Question:  Can you please tell me what vegetable garden plants should not be planted next to each other. We moved and I cannot find my list. I would appreciate your help. Thanks.

  Shirley Walter, Concord, NC


ANSWER:   Curcubits, that is, cucumbers, melons, and squash have to be separated or they will cross pollinate and the fruit will not taste good. Dill and fennel must be separated for the same reason. Sweet peppers and hot peppers should be separated or you will end up with hot sweet peppers.

Question #6

Question:  I can't seem to find an answer to my problem. My large, 22", 24" terracotta pots were usually purchased from Home Depot. These were fired and made in Italy and they have over the years developed a 'scale' like rot or growth/virus on the rims and on the sides of the pots. My older, cir.1946-1970's pots are in perfect shape with no deteriorating. What would causes this.....I can send you digital pictures if that would help. This condition doesn't seem to effect the plants however, I do believe it hurts the structure and therefore the life of these expensive pots. If this is some sort of "virus", they should not be imported to the USA.

All help will be much appreciated.

Thank you.

  Johanna Stephens


ANSWER:   This is most likely a harmless lichen growing on the exterior of the pots. It is not a virus, as you would not be able to see a virus with the naked eye.

Question #7

Question:  Is April to late to prune 3 year old apple trees. Thank you

  Barb Francis, Lunenburg, Nova Scotia


ANSWER:   Fruit trees need to be pruned when they are dormant or just leafing out in the spring. April is a little too late. We usually recommend January and February for pruning fruit trees.

Question #8

Question:  I have a hillside of BlueRug with lots of grass growing in it. Is there a way to kill the grass without killing the BlueRug? Thank you.

  Cathy McGuire, Pittsburgh, PA


ANSWER:   There is a herbicide called Poast that is specific to grass that will kill the grass without killing the Blue Rug. However, it can only be applied by someone with a pesticide license, such as a lawn care professional. I do not know of any herbicide that will kill grass but not Blue Rug that you can apply yourself.

Question #9

Question:  I have a Ahhxygen plant in my home. I've had it for about 3 weeks, and I love the Growth Potential. I have searched for an answer of how to care for it. I'm only getting that it is a "Brand Name." That's not answering my question. I need to know how to care for it, when to repot it, and how big it will grow?I really would appreciate an answer. I have looked at many sites and they all say the same thing!

  Duane Morton, Cleveland, OH


ANSWER:   The problem is that the ahhxygen name refers to several plants sold to people, so there is no way to tell you which plant you actually have and how to care for it.

Question #10

Question:  I have russet potato's planted and they are really growing. My question is do I have to keep them totally covered with dirt the whole stalk?

  Ellen Peavey, Colert, GA


ANSWER:   You need to keep the potatoes covered with dirt up to the first set of leaves. As the plant grows, continue to add dirt so that it is always just below the level of the first set of leaves. You do not cover the whole stalk or the plant will not be able to make any food and will die.

Question #11

Question:  Please advise about how to get amarylis plants to rebloom if/when planted in the yard/soil.

Thanks so much.

  Linda J. Urban, Vero Beach, FL


ANSWER:   It is important to feed the plant throughout the garden season so that the bulbs get as large as possible. They will then rebloom for you.

Question #12

Question:  I have an acer palmatum that has tripled in size since last year and has outgrown its bed. Is is possible to transplant it and is so, when is the best time?

  Judy Waller, Knoxville, TN


ANSWER:   Yes, it is possible to replant it. The best time to replant it is in the winter when it is dormant.

Question #13

Question:  I'm trying to find out what the rose bush in my yard is, and it seems closest to Lady Banks yellow double. So that I can take care of it properly, I need to find out more about it. I'm attaching two pictures I took on Tuesday, April 3, 2012. Can you help?


  Sara Gratiot


ANSWER:   You do appear to have a Lady Banks yellow double rose. This is a hardy climbing rose that needs an arbor or tree to grow up and over. Similar to the Lady Banks white, but more hardy, this rose blooms once for about four weeks. The blooms appear on second and third year wood, so dead canes and older wood should be pruned to maximize blossoms.

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Fertilize Container Plants

Because container gardens are usually grown to show off a lot color, the plants in them require more frequent fertilizing.

It's good to feed them every two weeks with a water-soluble complete fertilizer like a 20-20-20 or a hyrdolized fish fertilizer.

Regular feeding will help them fill in faster, and produce more flowers.

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