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Agriculture Today

Deer gear more toward nursery plants

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South Texas Gardener
May 15, 2013 | 4,262 views | Post a comment

Q: We just planted new gold lantana on our boulevard. The deer ate it! At least they pulled it up. Some was discarded. Are these deer especially mean?

A: No, deer are inclined to pull up anything new that is planted. They are curious animals. They also seem to especially like plants directly from the nursery. These plants have been well watered and are growing rapidly so are full of moisture and chemically dilute. The general recommendation is to apply “Liquid Fence” once a week for three weeks for all new plantings in deer country to reduce curiosity damage. The advice is even good for plants on deer proof lists.

Q: I saw a garden the other day where the gardener had hung shiny red Christmas bulbs on his tomato plants. He says it keeps the birds from eating his fruit. Does it work? If so, why would it work?

A: It is common strategy and is said to work. The curious birds, often mockingbirds, explore the colorful glass fruit and find it to be inedible. They give up on the plant and do not return even when there is “real” ripe fruit.

Q: How do we control fire ants on okra? Last year my granddaughter was bit severely while trying to help us with the harvest.

A: Apply Conserve to hills in and near the garden, the active ingredient is Spinosad, an organic pesticide that can be used in the garden. Check the label for reassurance and to find the most effective application methods. Another option is to spray the plants off with a water spray prior to harvest. It generally works if the harvest takes place within one half hour of the spray effort.

Q: Remind us which are the tough modern roses.

A: Belinda’s Dream, Carefree Beauty (Katy Road), Knockout, and Grandma’s Yellow.

Q: Our peaches are all knobby. Is it a disease?

A: Hail will sometime injure developing peaches to produce a symptom that could be described as “knobby.” The usual problem however, is damage by stinkbugs. Control stinkbugs by spraying peaches once per week with Sevin (carbaryl).

Calvin Finch is a horticulturist and the director of the Water Conservation and Technology Center at Texas A&M-San Antonio. 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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