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Darrell answers your gardening questions

By Darrell Blackwelder
For the Salisbury Post
We’re experiencing typical summer weather of hot days with scattered showers in the afternoon. Many have called with questions about lawns and gardens. Below are a few questions from Rowan County residents.
Q: I have a birch tree that has limbs that get in the way when I mow. Can I prune them now?
A: Yes, birch trees can be pruned without damage in late summer and early fall. Light pruning will not kill established trees.
Q: I have used Malathion in the bagworms in my Leyland cypress and they are not dying. What can I use to control them?
A: Bagworms are more difficult to control as they mature. Talstar or Mavrik are recommended insecticides; however, these insects are impossible to kill once they pupate in the cocoon. Read and follow the label carefully.
Q: My tomatoes are splitting cracking open. What causes this?
A: The cracking is common with excessive rain we’ve received over the past few weeks. Not much you can do about rough tomato fruit at this time of the year. Cracking usually occurs when the fruit is allowed to fully ripen on the vine.
Q: I have yellow jackets in a couple of places in my lawn. What’s the best way to get rid of them?
A: Wait until early morning, just before sunrise; all the insects should be inside the nest and calm. Empty an entire aerosol can of wasp and hornet spray into the hole with one stream. Place a brick or rock over the hole and walk away. Do not use gas to control yellow jackets.
Q: Are you going to sell rain barrels again?
A: Yes, we are taking orders now and expect deliver in early September. Contact the extension office at 704-216-8970 to place order before Aug. 29. Barrels will be in the office for pickup the next week. (See related story this page.)
Q: I have fresh mulch given to me by a tree company. Can I use it around my shrubs?
A: I would not. Compost the material for a year or so and make sure it is well rotted. Termites are attracted to wood that is not decomposed.
Q: I have a friend that would like to give me some horse manure for my garden. Is it OK to put horse manure on a garden?
A: If the manure is well-composted yes. If not, you’ll be carrying seed that could cause quite a weed problem. Also, if you’ve been following the salmonella problem you’ll want to make sure it’s composted for at least 90 days to eliminate any contamination problems. Make sure it is well composted before applying.

Darrell Blackwelder is an agricultural agent in charge of horticulture with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service in Rowan County; 704-216-8970.
Web sites:
http://rowan.ces.ncsu.edu
http://www.rowanmaster gardener.com
http://www.rowanhorticulture.com.

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