GARDENER'S MAILBAG

Trees grown from seeds produce poor quality fruit

Wednesday, October 8, 2014
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: I don't think my problem is unique, but I haven't seen it here before. We threw peach pits out into the pasture for the birds for a period of time.

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Bark sloughs off as tree trunks grow

Wednesday, October 1, 2014
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: I bought a home last year. It came with a very old pecan tree. The tree basically seems healthy, but this year it shed big chunks of bark (bags of it). I thought I'd taken good care of it. Do I need to worry?

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Wrap metal collars around tree trunks to deter squirrels

Wednesday, September 24, 2014
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: We have a good crop of pecans this year. Is there anything we can do to deter the squirrels?

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Plants infested with rose rosette should be removed

Wednesday, September 10, 2014
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: My rose bush is producing leaves that simply curl and turn brown. It also had different blooms than I was used to. I took samples to a nursery, and their expert said it was a fungus and that I should cut it to the ground. The new leaves are all coming out curled again. What's wrong?

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Plants in poor condition may need bigger pot

Wednesday, August 20, 2014
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: Do you have any idea what might be wrong with my Meyer lemon tree? We bought it four years ago, and it had produced nice, large fruit every year until this year. It started yellowing, and I applied an iron supplement. That seemed to help it green up.

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Spray yourself, not grass, for chiggers

Wednesday, August 13, 2014
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: Whenever I mow my yard, by the next morning I itch like crazy. I have red bites all over my body. I have a lot of dallisgrass in my lawn, if that helps any. What might be causing this, and how can I prevent it? I never see anything until the next morning.

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Hybrid oaks are likely hand-selected live oaks

Wednesday, August 6, 2014
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: More than 30 years ago, we purchased what the nursery called a "hybrid" oak. It looks like a live oak. Do you have any idea what it would be a hybrid of?

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Crape myrtles can be planted year-round

Wednesday, July 30, 2014
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: The crape myrtles have been so beautiful across Texas this summer. When is the best time to plant them?

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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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