GARDENER'S MAILBAG

Crabgrass prevention requires pre-emergent

Wednesday, July 23, 2014
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: How can I eliminate crabgrass in my lawn? I've had a small patch of it in the past, but this year it's rampant. Why would there be so much now?

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Hope for oak, cactus and apple, but not photinia

Wednesday, July 9, 2014
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: I have a mushroom growth on a branch near the top of my oak tree (30 feet or so up). I've been told that it's a sign of oak root rot fungus. Is there anything I should do now to treat it? I've been told that it will eventually kill the entire tree.

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Mow briars for best shot at eradication

Wednesday, July 2, 2014
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: How can I eliminate this vine? It has thorns on it above and below ground, and it has an extensive root system that is difficult to remove.

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Manually thin peaches to encourage growth

Wednesday, June 25, 2014
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: My father has a peach tree that's 20 years old. It flowers, but the peaches never get bigger than an inch and a quarter. Last year the immature peaches fell off. It has been the pattern for at least five years. What might the cause have been?

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Fire ants don’t kill trees

Wednesday, June 11, 2014
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: I have lost a couple of trees recently. When they were cut down, we found populations of fire ants. Do they kill trees?

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You can pollinate your own zucchini

Wednesday, June 4, 2014
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: My zucchini plants produce lots of flowers but no fruit. Why?

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Harsh winter damages some perennials

Wednesday, May 21, 2014
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: My oleanders have frozen clear back to the ground. Will the tops green back up again? I see new sprouts coming up. Should I cut off the tops?

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Avoid putting shredded paper in compost piles

Wednesday, May 14, 2014
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: I have access to a lot of shredded paper. We normally send it to recycling, but I've wondered if I could use it in the compost?

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Tomato production, plant size vary with variety

Wednesday, April 9, 2014
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: What do the terms "determinate" and "indeterminate" mean in reference to tomato varieties? Which is better for Texas?

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Pesky persimmons: No easy fix for fruity mess

Wednesday, March 26, 2014
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: Is there any way to keep wild persimmons from bearing fruit? We track the mess into our house, and they make the patio almost unusable.

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Leaf-footed bugs attack tomatoes

Wednesday, March 19, 2014
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: What insect stings tomatoes just before they ripen, causing them to rot from the inside, and how can I eliminate the pests? They look like stink bugs, but they're black.

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Prune hibiscus, lantanas after first freeze

Wednesday, March 12, 2014
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: When should I have pruned esperanza, plumbago, hibiscus and lantanas back to the ground? Was I not supposed to leave them over the winter?

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A little squirrel vandalism won’t bother mature pecans

Wednesday, February 26, 2014
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: I noticed last fall that two or three branches of my pecan were dried and dead looking. Recently, while watching the birds through binoculars, I noticed that something has damaged the bark of those limbs. In fact, it looks like the bark is missing entirely over 18 to 24 inches of each limb. What could cause that?

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Powdery mildew won’t ruin crape myrtles

Wednesday, February 19, 2014
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: Every year my crape myrtles get white mold. I've tried a three-in-one rose food on them, but it doesn't seem to help. Am I just not using enough, or should I be doing something else?

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Local nurseries best sources for unusual plants

Wednesday, February 12, 2014
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: You wrote not too long ago about Chaparral weeping mulberry. Where can I find one?

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Trust the soil test, apply fertilizer accordingly

Wednesday, January 29, 2014
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: I have just gotten my soil test results back from Texas A&M. They seem really odd because I want to work up a vegetable garden area, and the tests say I should add only nitrogen. Don't I want phosphorus for vegetable production?

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Rhubarb won’t withstand Texas summer heat

Wednesday, January 22, 2014
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: As the garden season starts, I thought I might try rhubarb. I saw some in the store the other day. What do I need to know to grow it? We've just moved to Texas.

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Get those fall leaves off your lawn ASAP

Wednesday, January 15, 2014
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: I purchased a house with four mature crape myrtles along the fence in my backyard. They are about 15 feet tall, and their trunks are about 18 inches from the fence.

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Pull pecan seedlings in May

Wednesday, December 25, 2013
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: You recently recommended that we use a "glyphosate-only" herbicide to kill bermudagrass in a bed. Is there a brand name you would recommend?

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Webworm war must wait until spring

Wednesday, December 18, 2013
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: Is there anything I can put on my pecan trees now to kill the over-wintering webworms?

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