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Gardening Q&A

Ask the Master Gardeners: May 2011




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Disclaimer:
Guadalupe County Master Gardeners is responsible for this content, which is not edited by the Wilson County News or wilsoncountynews.com.

April 25, 2011 | 1860 views | Post a comment

Q: The small immature fruit is falling off of my squash plants. What is happening?

A: My first response is to ask whether you are being uneven in your watering--either letting the plant get too dry or too wet. Then I started researching. Several sources (including Texas Organic Vegetable Gardening by Garrett and Beck) mention fruits shriveling or failing to enlarge caused by lack of pollination. This can be caused by honeybees not being active because of cloudy, wet weather, pesticides or mites, or even lack ofhoneybees in your area. The suggestion is to transfer pollen with a swab or small brush. The male flower does not have a small fruit looking thing behind it. The female flower does. Obviously, this solution will not appeal to you if you have a hundred plants.

Q: I have just moved into a new house and know nothing about the soil? Where do I get my soil tested? How do I prepare a soil sample to send?

A: Your AgriLife County Extension Office has forms and directions on how to do a soil test and where to send it. I did one this past year and was really amazed at the amount of phosphorus and potassium in my soil. The suggestion from the lab was for me to only fertilize with nitrogen for the next five years.

Prepare your soil sample by following some basic steps. To get a representative sample of your yard, use a clean shovel and sample the soil from 10 random areas to a depth of six inches. (Keep away from under the eaves, brush piles, or manure or compost piles). Place the samples in a clean plastic bucket and mix them thoroughly. Then place about a pint of the mixed soil into a soil sample bag (or a zipper-locked bag that is double bagged). Then mail to the address on the form.

Q: Is there a good time during the day to spray my natural insecticide? I do not want to harm any bees.

A: According to Doug Welsh’s Texas Garden Almanac, spraying should be done in the early morning or late in the afternoon to avoid the time when bees are active. Also, be sure that you know which direction the wind is blowing so that you can stay out of the spray. No matter how safe you think something is, you do not want to breathe it or have it on your skin. I can remember spraying with a homemade concoction that I had been assured was safe for me and bad for bugs. I accidently inhaled, and coughed on and off for hours. Remember: before you use anything, read the label--the entire label.

Q: What should I be doing about my plants during the drought?

A: Now is a great time to mulch. You should also be thinking about setting up a drip irrigation system. I did so in my vegetable garden; it works great and doesn’t waste water.

Clara Mae Marcotte is a Texas Master Gardener with the Texas AgriLife Extension

If you have a question to be answered, call the Master Gardeners at 830-379-1972 or leave a message to be answered. The website is guadalupecountymastergardeners.org. The Master Gardener research library is open Mondays from 8:30 to noon, on the second floor of the Texas AgriLife Extension building, 210 East Live Oak in Seguin.
 
« Previous Blog Entry (March 29, 2011)
 


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