Gardening Question of the Day

The leaves on my five-year-old peach tree turn bright yellow and then fall off. What causes this?

The yellow leaves might mean that your tree has an iron deficiency called chlorosis, or it may be suffering from a fungus such as shot hole. Both indicate that your soil may have poor drainage, which could weaken the tree and make it susceptible to disease. Check the soil. If it's a heavy clay, that's probably your problem. If you think your soil is OK, make sure your tree is getting enough moisture. Water it deeply when the surface is dry but the soil three to four inches down is still moist. You also might want to contact your local county extension office to find out exactly what malady your tree has. It's hard to diagnose the problem without seeing it.

Last 7 Days

My sprouts don't develop into nice firm heads, but only loose leaves. What is wrong?

If the sprouts experienced extremely hot weather while they were in an important stage of early growth, it may have had this adverse effect on the sprout heads. A way to avoid this might be to use transplants instead of seed next growing season and be sure to maintain ample moisture.

My new yard has a citrus tree in the middle of a grassy area. Is this a good place for it?

Citrus trees need sun and well-drained soil. Most folks plant citrus trees in a slight mound, with a three- to four-inch-deep earthen basin around the tree. Citrus trees are sensitive to wet soil and overwatering. When you water, make sure the water does not rise to the level of the trunk if you can help it. Water thoroughly and deeply. Maintain a two-inch-deep mulch of grass clippings, sawdust, wood chips, or ground bark on the soil around the tree.

What can I do to make sure my lavender patch spreads?

Lavender thrives in humus-rich soil with good drainage. If you decide to divide the plants to start another lavender patch, do so in early spring.

I have a trumpet vine that has been growing for three years now. It has lots and lots of leaves and climbing vines, but so far no flowers. How can I get it to produce flowers?

Trumpet vines like moderately fertile, well- drained soil, yet they are able to tolerate poor soil and restricted roots. It is best to prune thein the late winter or early spring, and it may take three seasons for them to 'establish' themselves. Where they are marginally hardy, it is best to grow them in a protected area (against a wall) in full sun. Though most trumpet vines are hardy in Zones 5-9, the Chinese Trumpet Vine is hardy in Zones 7-9.

What can I do to make sure my cucumbers will be healthy and produce a lot of fruit?

In general, cukes do well with continuous moisture and a high nitro fertilizer. Once the plants start growing, they need a constant supply of moisture. When they are about four inches high, fertilizing with blood meal, cottonseed meal or watering with a solution of fish emulsion will benefit your cukes. Continue to fertilize until flowers form.

How can we keep groundhogs from eating our vegetable garden?

In addition to installing an electric fence, there are several solutions. Try feeding them Juicy Fruit gum. Buy several packs and unwrap each stick. Place the sticks in the garden where the groundhogs have been eating. They will eat the gum and go away. Or try sprinkling blood meal or talcum powder around the perimeter of the garden, or planting a line of garlic near the entrance. You could also spray fox, bobcat, or wolf urine (available at garden supply stores) in the garden.

How do I make tea from the chamomile in my garden?

It is relatively easy to harvest herbs for tea. Pick the chamomile after the flowers have blossomed. (Most other herbs should be picked before the flowers appear.) The best time of day to pick herbs is in the early morning, after the dew has dried and before the heat robs them of their essential oils. Gather the herbs in a bouquet, tie the ends together, and hang each bouquet upside down in a cool, dry place for several days. When they're completely dry, strip all the leaves from the stems and store them in a jar. Dried herbs can be stored in jars for several months, but they begin to lose their flavor after several weeks.

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