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Agriculture Today

Controlling spiny hackberry

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June 22, 2011 | 3,137 views | Post a comment

Q. There is a seedling that looks a little like a hackberry growing in my fenceline. Unlike hackberry, it has spines at each leaf attachment point. It is savage! What is it and how do you control it?

A. The plant sounds like spiny hackberry. It reseeds as aggressively as regular hackberry. It is an outstanding wildlife plant. The berries are edible and the foliage has high levels of protein, so despite the thorns, it is eaten by deer and even cows. Kill spiny hackberry with Remedy.

Q. Our lawn is in full sun. We have two large dogs that wear down the grass. Are there grass varieties that have better traffic tolerance than St. Augustine grass?

A. Yes, Bermuda has the best traffic tolerance. Zoysia grass has the second-best tolerance. Both grasses do much better than St. Augustine.

Q. Is it good to fertilize the lawn in the summer? Our lawn does not look as good as I would like it.

A. I recommend fertilizing a home lawn twice per year about May 1 and about Oct. 1. Fertilizer is wasted if applied during hot, dry periods, when it is hard to irrigate enough to keep it green. Athletic fields and golf courses fertilize their Bermuda grass through the summer.

Q. Thanks for your article on spider mites. Boy, do I have them in my container tomatoes, plus a tiny worm that would fit on a pinhead, striped. What about the soil in the container pots? Is that contaminated?

A. It can be. Let it bake in the sun for a few months. Cover it with clear plastic to provide an even stronger solarization impact.

Q. One time, a while back, you identified a seed to put in our feeders that was liked by cardinals and other desirable birds, but was not eaten by squirrels. Please tell us again?

A. Safflower seed is passed up by the squirrels, but readily eaten by cardinals, titmice, chickadees, and house finches.

Calvin Finch is a horticulturist and the San Antonio Water System’s project director of regional initiatives and special projects. Hear him on “Gardening South Texas” on KLUP 930 AM radio Saturdays noon to 2 p.m., and 1-3 p.m. Sundays. Or, e-mail him at reader@wcn-online.com.

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