Tomato Viruses

As difficult as blights are to manage in tomatoes, viral diseases are far worse. This is because there are no effective products to stop their spread.  To make matters even more challenging, virus infection is most often the work of sap sucking insects, such as aphids, thrips, and leafhoppers, that vector diseases. Insecticides to stop…

Graft Union Incompatibility

Lots of trees can be grafted—fruit trees, shade trees, and even small ornamental trees. Grafting is the art of putting together two different parts of trees to make one new tree. Unlike Frankenstein, the results are not monstrous, but instead the new tree will have some of the best traits of each of its parts….

Winter Damage and Herbicide Drift

Winter Damage February’s deep cold separated the marginally hardy plants from those that weathered the winter without problems. The lower portions of stems of some trees and shrubs, protected by the snow, flowered as usual and are sending out new leaves. Unfortunately, the portions of plants not protected by snow remain lifeless or are slow…

Staking Newly Planted Trees

Confusion surrounds the healthiest way to stake newly-planted trees to stand up to fierce winds while fostering good root growth. The old method, seen much too often still, of snaking wire through a section of garden hose to wrap around trunks and branches is highly injurious to trees. This ill-advised technique digs into tree conductive…

Thinking Ahead: Annual and Perennial Flowers

Growing a vegetable garden versus growing a flower garden can be hotly debated. Vegetable gardeners ask, “What good is it if you can’t eat it?” Flower growers think if it is not pretty, what’s the point? For me, growing both vegetables and flowers are necessary—vegetables nourish my body while flowers feed my soul. As the…

The Oak Twig Girdler

Flagging branches on oak trees can indicate the presence of the oak twig girdler.

Cucumber Bitterness

The compound that imparts the bitter taste in cucumbers is cucurbitacin. Wild cucumbers have a large amount of cucurbitacin, which discourages feeding by wild animals and insects. Today’s hybrids have been bred to have lower amounts of cucurbitacin in the fruit and what cucurbitacin is in the plant is concentrated in the roots, leaves, and…

Yellow Nutsedge

“What is this grass growing in my flower bed?” is a question I hear quite often now.  Rolling the stem between my fingers quickly determines this isn’t grass at all but the infamous yellow nutsedge.  Sedges are grass-like perennials that have triangular shaped stems.   If they grew at the same rate as turfgrass, many lawn…

Freeze Damage to Spruce

Many spruce trees in the area are looking rough. Beyond the usual injury from spruce spider mites and Rhizosphaera needle cast, spruce trees have serious dieback, not only individual branches but in some cases, the top has died. Drooping clusters of brown needles and streaks of white sap on branches and trunk indicate freeze injury….