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The Greener View: Squash Care

Gardening / Jeff Rugg /

Q: We moved here a year ago and have a problem with squash. My plants look great, but the fruit gets about 2 or 3 inches long and then withers up. The garden has sandy soil. Any suggestions?

A: Squash need a lot of water. They have big leaves and grow big fruit. Sandy soil is fine for them, but you will have to keep them well-watered. A soaker ...Read more

The Greener View: Asparagus Plants and Apple Trees

Gardening / Jeff Rugg /

Q: I bought male asparagus plants. They aren't supposed to bloom, and they are supposed to have more spears. But they have started flowering. Can they change into female plants, or did I not get what I paid for? What do I do now? Can I cut off the flowering stalks without hurting production?

A: Asparagus does come in separate male and female ...Read more

The Greener View: Hackberry Nipple Galls

Gardening / Jeff Rugg /

Q: The leaves on my hackberry tree have bumps. What can I do about this problem?

A: Your tree has galls. Hackberries are great native trees that are tolerant of many temperature, soil condition and moisture extremes. They have a few problems that are mostly cosmetic.

The gall that deforms the leaf is called a hackberry nipple gall. It makes ...Read more

The Greener View: Early Blooming Plants

Gardening / Jeff Rugg /

Q: Wow, what a cold spring we are having. I have a lot of perennials in my yard, and the worse-looking ones are nearest the house. I thought they would get the most protection, but I must be wrong. What can I do for them now, and what can I do to keep them from having problems next time?

A: The problem for many early blooming plants isn't the ...Read more

The Greener View: Raspberry Plants

Gardening / Jeff Rugg /

Q: When I ordered some grape vines and raspberries back in January, It sure seemed like having them arrive in April would be a good idea. The catalog and websites I ordered from predicted this would be a good time to plant bare-root plants. The plants arrived on time, but we are not only still getting snow; the temperatures predicted for the ...Read more

The Greener View: Double Digging

Gardening / Jeff Rugg /

Q: I was reading a mystery novel, and one of the characters mentioned that the garden had been double dug. I was wondering, is that still a common practice?

A: It probably isn't, but it should be. In the past, gardeners depended more on having a good soil than having good chemicals. A deep organic soil is much better for the plants. A deep bed ...Read more

The Greener View: Exposed Wood

Gardening / Jeff Rugg /

Q: My maple tree was pruned two months ago, while it was dormant during the winter. There is still sap running down the trunk where the branches were removed. The arborist said that we should not cover the wounds with paint, but I think the tree would be better off if the sap were to stop running. What do you think?

A: Your arborist is right. ...Read more

The Greener View: Organic Doesn't Mean Safe

Gardening / Jeff Rugg /

Q: I have a friend who says he has switched to a nonchemical approach to lawn care. He says he went fully organic because it is safer. He wants me to switch, but I am not sure that I should.

A: First, we need to remember that the word "organic" is not synonymous with the word "safe." The attempt of organic gardening and lawn care practices is ...Read more

The Greener View: Fertilizing Time and Low-Maintenance Herbs

Gardening / Jeff Rugg /

Q: My tulips and daffodils are coming up. When is the best time to fertilize them?

A: Right now is the perfect time. Most people wait until the end of flowering, but just as they are coming up out of the ground is better. A bulb wants to produce flowers and seeds right now, and then it must store carbohydrates in the bulb for next year. We want...Read more

The Greener View: Phals Orchids

Gardening / Jeff Rugg /

Q: I am in love. I received a phalaenopsis orchid as a gift at Christmas. It is still blooming in March! I can't get over the fact that I haven't killed it yet and it still looks beautiful. I want to take care of it and see whether I can get it to bloom again. What do I need to do to repot it and take care of it so it will keep blooming?

A: ...Read more

The Greener View: Dwarf Tomatoes

Gardening / Jeff Rugg /

Q: I love fresh tomatoes. I moved into an apartment with a small patio. It gets a lot of sun, so it should be OK to grow plants, but I need small plants. Are there any really small tomato plants?

A: I have good news for you. There are a lot of small tomato plants that have great tasting, full-size fruits. The only problem is that most people ...Read more

The Greener View: Vegetables and Honeysuckles

Gardening / Jeff Rugg /

Q: I have tried growing my own vegetable plants for a couple of years, but they always seem to fail. I am careful with the watering and following the directions on the seed packages. Most of the seeds sprout, but very often, they reach an inch or 2 high and then fall over like they were chopped off at the base. I know there are no insects, slugs...Read more

The Greener View: Ice, Snow and Pigeons

Gardening / Jeff Rugg /

Q: Our area recently received a lot of ice and snow. Some of our trees were bent over during the storm but seem to be recovering after most of the ice and snow melted off. My problem is that some larger trees have broken or cracked limbs. They are in the backyard and have provided us with a lot of shade, and I don't want to lose them. How soon ...Read more

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