Neat trims from trees heal best

Garden Q&A

September 29, 1996

Two large branches on my red maple were broken in a thunderstorm. How should I remove them? Do I need to paint the wounds to protect the tree?

Don't tackle the job unless you can do it safely and have the proper tools. Remove the split or broken portions of the limb. Avoid leaving stubs of branches. Do not paint anything on the fresh cuts. Salves and paints will slow or inhibit the healing process.

My spring-planted garlic didn't do very well. A neighbor said it's better to plant garlic in the fall. What's the story?

Your neighbor is correct. Prepare a bed by mixing in a few inches of compost or rotted manure. Split large heads (bulbs) of garlic into individual cloves (supermarket garlic works well). Plant the cloves root side down, 4 to 6 inches apart, and cover with 2 to 3 inches of soil. In late November cover the green shoots with leaves or straw. Uncover the mulch in early spring, and you'll be harvesting by July.

How will I know when it's time to harvest my pears and apples?

European pears ripen from the inside out and should not be allowed to soften on the tree. They will quickly turn to mush. Pick them when they are still hard and a slight change is noticed in the background color. Store pears in a cold, moist location, such as the refrigerator or a root cellar. Bring them to room temperature to allow ripening. (This will take a few days.)

Asian pears can be picked fully tree-ripened. Apples should be picked and sampled periodically to determine the peak harvest period. Leaving overripe fruit on the tree will invite yellow jackets, hornets and sap beetles.

Last fall I had a gazillion little beetles (they looked like tan-colored ladybugs) crawling around my dining room. How can I prevent them from coming back?

Asian ladybird beetles, box-elder bugs, crickets, cluster flies and other nuisance pests prefer the inside of your home to the certainty of a cold death outdoors. Seal up foundation cracks and holes in vents and screens. Weather-strip and caulk around window and door frames. Any creatures that do get inside will not live long and can be swept up or vacuumed. Do not spray insecticides inside your home to kill these pests.

Garden tips are provided by the Home and Garden Information Center of the Cooperative Extension Service of the University of Maryland. For additional information on these questions or if you have questions of your own, call the center's hot line at (800) 342-2507.


Monitor dogwood, maple, sycamore and other trees with leaves that change color prematurely. Early fall coloration is a sign that a tree is suffering from environmental stresses or insect or disease damage.

Keep birdhouses away from your house to avoid attracting mice and ticks.

Treat poison ivy, mile-a-minute vine and other noxious weeds with a herbicide containing glyphosate, 2,4-D or triclopyr.

Continue to remove bagworm bags from evergreen trees and shrubs. Each bag contains hundreds of bagworm eggs.

Pub Date: 9/29/96

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