Gardening Question of the Day

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How can I control chickweed in my lawn?

There are two species of chickweed, one perennial and one annual. Mouse-ear chickweed is the perennial, which forms a dense, prostrate patch in lawns and gardens. Common chickweed, the annual, is more delicate in appearance, with leaves that are broad at the base and about half an inch long. Common chickweed is easier to control. Both types have shallow roots, so they can often be removed by hoeing or hand-pulling. New plants can grow from broken pieces of mouse-ear rootstock, however, so make sure you remove the entire plant when using either method. A healthy lawn can compete against mouse-ear chickweed if the grass is not mowed too short or too frequently. Watering the lawn deeply and infrequently will encourage the grass to grow deeper roots, which also can help it compete against chickweed. Water once every seven to ten days, and apply enough water so that it soaks six to eight inches into the ground. An herbicide used to control both chickweeds is glyphosphate (Roundup, for example), which moves into the root system, killing the entire plant. However, it also kills desirable plants, including trees, so apply it very carefully, allowing it to come into contact with only those plants you wish to destroy. Whether you choose to remove chickweed manually or to apply an herbicide, do it before the weed has time to go to seed, thereby preventing future problems.

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Last 7 Days

Can you suggest a homemade spray for controlling aphids?

Try this mixture to control aphids, whiteflies, and even destructive beetles: 2 parts rubbing alcohol, 5 parts water, and 1 tablespoon liquid soap. Spray the mixture on the foliage of garden plants that are susceptible to these pests.

My peas mature all at once and get too big before I can pick them. Can I plant in succession?

If you are in a place with cool summers, you can do this with success. However, it your summers are very hot, the late plantings, unfortunately, will catch up to the earlier ones. You might try planting several varieties instead. Check the packages. Varieties like Blue Bantam mature 10 days later than many of the common ones. Pick your peas everyday when they ripen to ensure maximum production.

How do I propagate roses and when?

Rose bushes are readily propagated by cuttings. The easiest way is to set them outdoors in the fall or in pots under glass during the summer months. This "own-root roses" method develops a true rose variety, without suckers. Cuttings can develop rather slowly at first, however. Summer cuttings should be made from shoots that have flowered, are fairly firm, and are about four to eight inches long. Remove all leaves except two at the top, and leave the dormant buds on the cutting. You can treat the ends with a rooting hormone to accelerate development. Insert the cuttings into very sandy soil shaded from direct sunlight. Keep the soil moderately moist. If you set the cuttings under a frame or in a greenhouse, covered with a fruit jar, the roots will form in a few weeks. July and August are the best months to take summer cuttings. Roses propagated from cuttings don't usually bloom for two years because they have to form a good root system.

Where do those small corns served in Chinese entrees come from?

Most of the baby corn sold in the United States and Europe is imported from Thailand, Taiwan, and Indonesia. Baby corn is an extremely easy crop to produce, but hand labor is required for harvesting and processing it. That's probably why it hasn't caught on as a cash crop in the otherwise corn-producing United States. You may find it produced locally by small farmers, but most of the imported corn is processed and canned. Fresh corn is not imported. Baby corn is produced from regular corn plants that are harvested early, while the ears are immature. Regular sweet corn, sugar-enhanced sweet corn, and supersweet corn varieties can be used, along with a few varieties that are specific for baby corn.

How can I grow American bittersweet? Can it be started from seed, or does it need to be started as a plant?

American bittersweet is a deciduous, twining climber grown for its attractive berries. It can be propagated by seed in the autumn or spring or by soft-wood cuttings in the summer. You'll have to check with plant and seed suppliers regarding its availability. Plants should not be harvested from the wild because they are becoming scarce.

How can I control mealybugs on my plants?

If you can get your hands on some tobacco, soak it overnight in water and then use the sludge on your plants. It will kill the bugs. Be sure to wear gloves and protect your eyes when trying this method.

Is it best to propagate cacti by using cuttings?

This method does provide larger plants more quickly than propagation by seed, but not every type of cactus can be propagated this way. Cacti that are columnar or pad-forming, and those that have segmented stems such as a Christmas cactus, are easily started from cuttings. Spring, when most cacti emerge from their winter rest and initiate new growth, is the best time to take cuttings. The most important point in ensuring success is that the plant you take the cuttings from is very healthy. The primary problem encountered with cactus cuttings is fungal soft rot.

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