Gardening Q&A

Plant Q & A

Q. After your raves about the attraction that suet has for insect-eating birds, we have started feeding it to our birds. They are slow to eat it all up. Is suet something you would replace like hummingbird sugar solution, or can we let them eat it up even if it takes quite a while?

A. I have always let them eat it up. I do not feed the birds in the summer, but it may take the birds longer to eat all the suet because of the availability of insects. Suet seems to last in a usable state for a long time.

Q. Coral vine takes over my yard every summer. Is there an herbicide that works to control it?

A. I have tried both Roundup and Remedy. Surprisingly Roundup worked the best in my experience. I sprayed it on the stems and foliage that crossed into an area where I did not want it to spread. Follow label instructions.

Q. My neighbor grows the largest, most attractive tomatoes. They are the recommended selections such as Tycoon, Celebrity, HM8849, HM1823, Red Snapper and Valley Cat. He grows them in a half whiskey barrel size plastic container and fertilizes with osmocote. He also has a simple irrigation system. Is there a way for me to duplicate that success in my raised bed garden? I would like to match his performance for the fall crop.

A. Hopefully your garden bed is in full sun? Prepare your bed with 2 inches of compost and 10 cups of slow-release lawn fertilizer per 100 sq ft of bed. Plant the recommended varieties in the third week of July. Be prepared to irrigate each day and keep the bed weeded. Side dress at the beginning of September with a winterizer fertilizer such as 15-5-10. Let us know how the competition turns out!

Q. We had a fair crop of peaches this spring. We sprayed each week with a neem oil product, but the fruit turned out to be lumpy. Do you think it was a disease? Was there something else we should havesprayed?

A. Sounds to me like it was a stink bug infestation. They penetrate the fruit to insert their digestive juices and then consume the resultant soup. It leaves a “lumpy” surface. Stink bugs are difficult to control because of their mobility and size. I have good luck with Sevin or Malathion. Sevin is supposedly off the market, but retail outlets can still sell their existing stock.

Q. We were at a party the other evening and saw some begonias with huge leaves and flowers. They were in partial sun. Any idea what they might be?

A. From your description it sounds like they are “Whopper” begonias. They are related to our regular semperfloren begonias and just as easy to grow. Like their smaller cousins, the Whoppers are available in several leaf and flower colors. Check at your favorite retail nursery.

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