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Landscapes and butterflies
Q. What is the deal with all the butterflies? Is it the rain and lush weed crop that increased the population so quickly from one year to the next?
A. The warm weather and lush plant growth have resulted in a large number of butterflies in our landscapes especially if you have plants that they find desirable.
In a landscape with many flowers blooming it may be possible to identify as many as 30 different species.
To identify the many species, obtain a butterfly handbook. There are a number of good ones. Look for one that shows photos of the caterpillars in addition to the adults.
For more information on plants that attract butterflies, obtain “Butterfly Gardening for the South” by Gevata Ajilvsgi. In addition to plants, the book offers ideas on attracting butterflies with water, mud, overripe fruit, and sugar water.
Q. What is causing the lumpy appearance of my early Bicentennial peaches? The lumps seem to be scar tissue. Is it a disease? Are they ruined?
A. The symptoms you describe seem like stinkbug damage. The insects inject a digestive juice into the peach and then suck out the resultant “stew.” The texture of the tissue that remains is unpleasant but it is safe to eat.
It is too late to save your Bicentennial peaches from stinkbugs but later fruit may still turn out okay if it is sprayed every week with Sevin or Malathion.
Q. My snapdragons got a red powder on the leaves and almost immediately, the blooms declined. Is there something I should have done or can do?
A. No, the disease you describe is rust. When temperatures warm up, all snaps are susceptible. Pull them up, bury them in the compost pile, and replace them with zinnias, Cora vinca, or cosmos for the summer.
Q. Which of the southern peas works best here? I like to harvest them early and use them as snap beans. In East Texas, I liked purple hulls.
A. Purple hulls or black-eyed peas do fine here for the purposes you propose. Seed them anytime from now through June.
Q. Do tomatoes require cages? I never got around to it and now the plants are too large.
A. No, commercial growers do not use cages. The plants spread out and some of the fruit that sits on the ground may be prone to rot or insect attacks, but overall production may be just as good as plants grown with cages. I find the fruit easier to harvest and spray when I use cages.
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