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Agriculture Today

Sweet blackberries starting to stink!

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May 30, 2012 | 3,917 views | Post a comment

Q. What will kill stinkbugs that I can spray on my blackberries? They are ruining them.

A. Stinkbugs are difficult to kill because of their size and manner of feeding. I use Sevin or malathion. Read the label closely to note that there is a waiting period required between application and use of the fruit.

Q. We had disappointing luck trying to grow loblolly pines. I understand that they require acid soil and we have alkaline soil. Are there any conifers that we can grow?

A. Yes, try deodar cedar, black Japanese pine, Italian stone pine, Arizona cypress, or Montezuma cypress.

Q. Why isn’t buffalo grass used more? It seems like that is the answer to our problem of the need for excessive water on lawns.

A. Unfort-unately, buffalo grass does not make the grade as a manicured lawn grass. The sod is not tight, so weeds move in quickly. It also does not respond well to wet periods. Buffalo grass works as a groundcover if you grow it on heavy soils with full sun, southern or western exposure, and you mow high (5 to 6 inches).

Q. We are growing Satsuma citrus for the first time. It is loaded with fruit. When will it ripen? How will we know it is ripe?

A. Satsumas ripen over a several-month period beginning in late September. Try one that is full-size and showing some orange at that time. It does not need to be completely orange to be ripe. If it suits your taste, it is ready. If you wait too long, they can dry out.

Q. Our live oak has numerous caterpillars that are eating all the new foliage. What should we spray with?

A. Most of the time we do not spray caterpillars on live oaks. There is no long-term damage as long as the tree is established and healthy. For newly planted trees, any of the Bt products or Spinosad will work.

Q. How often do we need to fertilize our tomatoes? We used one of the organic fertilizers at planting.

A. Tomatoes are heavy feeders. I apply a half-cup per plant of slow release 19-5-9 lawn fertilizer every three weeks.

Q. What flowers attract hummingbirds?

A. Use zinnias, salvias, lantana, or firebush in the sun. In the shade, use pentas.

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

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