Q: We are discussing when to cut down our ornamental grasses. I want to see them last through the winter and let the birds eat any seeds. My husband wants to cut them down in the fall because he says it is easier then. The plants are still upright and not beaten down. We can burn the grass in the fall when we are doing fires in the fire pit. ...Read more
Q: We started seeing pumpkins for sale at the end of August. That is two months too early as far as I am concerned. I want to buy a couple so I can use them for pies and pumpkin bread at Thanksgiving. How long can these early pumpkins be stored? Is there a good way to process them?
A: You are seeing pumpkins and chrysanthemums being sold ...Read more
Q: In a recent article, you mentioned using systemic insecticides for aphids and other small insects. I have them on herbs, vegetables and some flowers in the garden. What kind of systemic insecticide would you recommend?
A: Systemic insecticides work by soaking into the plant. They can be dry granules spread on the soil or a liquid that is ...Read more
Q: My patio is being overrun with yellow jacket bees. I want to find the nest and spray them, but it seems that the nest isn't in my yard. A friend said they are beneficial insects. Are they really doing good for my garden, or can I just get rid of them if I find the nest?
A: Yellow jackets are not bees but are small yellow and black wasps up ...Read more
Question: Lately I'm finding small clumps of lawn grass, roots and all, dug out and laying there. The clumps are only an inch or two across. At first, I thought it was a mole or gopher, but I don't see any tunnel beyond the removed clump. I read that moles prefer areas that have a grub problem, and I did fight grubs last month, but the lifted ...Read more
Q: I am a Master Gardener trained through my state university's extension service. The instructors said during my training that the information was based on research and not marketing. I want to plant a large area of grass seed in my yard, but I am having trouble finding what I need. The Master Gardener training said that for my area, grass seed...Read more
Question: My oaks and shade trees look like they are beginning to die. The last six inches to a foot or more of many branches all over the tree have dead leaves. We have not had much rain, but when we do, a lot of these branches fall off. I have started watering; is there anything else I can do?
Answer: This sounds like typical cicada damage ...Read more
Q: My local nursery is selling fruit trees at a discount because they are getting ready for fall. I have been trying to decide if I want to plant a peach tree or a pear tree. I think I really only have room for one tree. I have read that I need to get two pear trees if I want to get fruit. Is there any way around this situation if I decide I ...Read more
Question: Our magnolia tree has sooty mold. We had the tree sprayed for the fungus, but it is still dripping stuff. Do you have any suggestions?
Answer: Sooty mold is a fungus that grows on the sugary sap that is dripped on everything below a tree that has sucking insects. Some insects are sort of like a mosquito: they stab the leaf with a ...Read more
Q: I ate a Pink Lady apple and the seeds inside the core were sprouting roots. I planted a couple of them, and they are growing. Can I grow them and get Pink Lady apples in a few years?
A: The answer is yes and no. Most apple trees need two different kinds of apple tree pollen to get a cross-pollination that will grow an apple. Pink Lady apples...Read more
Q: I have several hydrangeas in my yard. When is the best time to prune them?
A: I am glad you asked as this is National Hydrangea Week. There are several species of hydrangeas, and it does make a difference as to when you prune them. Woody plants have old and new wood. New wood is this season's new growth. The branch will have leaves on it. If...Read more
Q: I have a paving stone patio behind the house. Behind the patio is a man-made stone wall that you can sit on. Behind the wall is a flower bed that has an ash tree in it. And finally, behind the flower bed is a downhill slope that is covered in grass. The slope is not steep, and it can be walked on and mowed with no problem.
The ash tree has ...Read more
Q: We went on vacation at the end of June and now our vegetable garden has been taken over by weeds. Is it too early to begin thinking about starting over and doing a fall garden?
A: If you are a northern gardener, the next few weeks are the perfect time to start your fall garden. Fall vegetable crops can be started from seed indoors at the ...Read more