NEWS for North Dakotans
Agriculture Communication, North Dakota State University
7 Morrill Hall, Fargo, ND 58105-5665
March 16, 2000
Ron Smith, Extension Horticulturist
North Dakota State University
Q: I have a large cotoneaster hedge that is getting too tall for me to trim. I would like to cut it down and have it start from the bottom again. Could you tell me how far down it should be cut down and when is the best time to cut it? (Ellendale, N.D.)
A: Cut it down as low as you can reach, and get it done before new growth breaks.
Q: Is it too late in the spring to start geranium plants from cuttings? Also, could you let me know what the proper procedure is? (New Rockford, N.D.)
A: No, it is not too late to start. It takes about four to six weeks for rooting to take place.
First, select only stems that are healthy. Using a sharp knife, cut them so they are between 4 and 6 inches long. Then, remove the lower leaves and insert the cut end into a sterile or pasteurized medium such as sand, peat moss, vermiculite or perlite. Keep the cutting in bright, indirect light and keep the medium moist, but not soggy. In four to six weeks, roots should be developed! When lifting the rooted cuttings, do so with both hands--one underneath, lifting up, the other gently tugging, being careful to not break any roots.
Q: Do you have any information on stating when and how to trim young trees, especially silver maple and cottonwood? (Webster, S.D.)
A: Refer to the NDSU Extension Service publication titled "Pruning Trees and Shrubs" (H-1036). Pruning should have been done earlier in the spring, but now would be OK. You should have some sap flow, but it is nothing to worry about.
Q: I am trying to find out how much to water my apple trees. I live at an elevation of about 4,000 feet in southern California (near Bakersfield). There are many apple orchards in the area, and they give varying replies to my question. I have a Johnna Gold, Golden Delicious and a Figi. This will be my second year of growing. During the summer months it gets up near the 100 F, and is dry. I have been watering one to two minutes every morning with my sprinkler system, about 1 to 2 quarts of water, in the hottest parts of summer. In the cooler parts of summer every other day, same amounts of water. Any advice or tips will be greatly appreciated. (e-mail)
A: Watering your apple trees is dependent on a number of factors:
- The soil type--sandy, silty or clay.
- The temperature and the EVT--evapotranspirationrate.
- Wind, surrounding vegetation and whether you have the roots mulched.
- The age and size of the trees.
If you have sandy soil, then daily watering is justified, If you have clay soil, watering should probably occur two to three times week. With high temperatures, the trees would benefit from syringing the foliage a couple of times a day during the hottest part.
You should view your water requirements in acre-inches. For example, figure that a
4-foot square area around each tree needs to be irrigated, regardless of whether the roots have extended that far. If you apply about 15 gallons of water over that area (16 square feet) each time you water, you will be adding the equivalent of about 1 acre inch of water to that area. Mulching with wood chips or other organic material would conserve the water and keep the root system cooler.
Q: I purchased a home in West Fargo, N.D. last September, and I noticed after a cutting or two that there were quite a few bare/dead patches in the lawn. Individually they are about 6 to 9 inches in diameter and are concentrated in two parts of my yard, front and rear. These small patches collectively make up a fairly large area. The neighbors on each side do not appear to have any of these dead patches. The people I purchased the house from had a dog for a short period of time. Could this be my problem? Urination? I had a fall application of weed killer and fertilizer, and the applicator reported no sign of insects or fungus. Just before it snowed, I spread some lawn seed on all the spots and lightly raked it in. Is there anything you could suggest to improve this unsightly piece of ground? (West Fargo, N.D., e-mail)
A: Yes, those bare patches are likely caused by dog urine. The salts from the urine are what causes the "burn" and death of the grass in that location. Eventually, the salts leach out of the soil root zone and grass can be grown there once again.
It sounds like you have done the correct procedure. If the grass fails to take hold in those spots, send a sample in to me, and I'll have it tested at our lab for high soluble salts. If that isn't the problem, then we have another one that needs to be solved!
Q: I have a 2-year-old bed of Tristar June-bearing strawberries. Last year they produced a lot of blossoms, but the berries never got bigger than peas and had hard centers. The garden spot is only 2 years old, and there have not been any strawberries in this area for three years. The plants are all healthy, show no signs of stress and produced a lot of runners for this year . I applied nitrogen to the plants in April of last year; they had good moisture and are in the full sun for six to eight hours daily. They are planted in a area 10 feet by 10 feet. (Selby, S.D., e-mail)
A: It sounds like the lygus bug may have discovered your strawberry patch, or you had a late spring frost that killed the pistillate part of the flower. I would tend to believe the latter, rather than the insect problem that quickly.
Generally, these critters become a problem after about three years. But, the lygus bug could be "housed" in other crops or weeds adjacent to your strawberry bed. I would suggest a good examination of the plantings to check for the lygus bug. They are small but can be easily monitored with sticky white cards placed throughout the berry patch. I also suggest cleaning up any garden or leaf litter in the immediate area and getting rid of weeds in the area, as the bugs can overwinter in such material.
Another possibility is the existence of too much rainy weather at the time the pollen was mature, causing poor fruit set.
To protect against a spring frost, cover the patch with Remay, a geotextile material that provides protection down to about 28 F yet allows the plants to breathe when the sun comes out the following morning.
Q: I'm am wondering where can you buy Poast in small quantities, and also lime to use on trees for fungus. (e-mail)
A: Poast is not available in small quantities that I am aware of, but lime sulfur should be available at just about any garden supply store, garden center or retail nursery.
Do you have a gardening or houseplant question? Write to Hortiscope, Box 5051, NDSU Extension Service, Fargo, ND 58105 or e-mail to Ron Smith at email@example.com.
Source: Ron Smith (701) 231-8161
Editor: Dean Hulse (701) 231-6136