Small spuds make good seed pieces

Backyard Q&A

June 21, 1998

Q.I got my potatoes planted on St. Patrick's Day, and last week I dug up loads of spuds. Some are rather small, and I wonder if I could plant them and get a second crop.

A. Yes, you can. Cut the potatoes into seed pieces (two to three "eyes" per piece). Keep them indoors for a few days while the cut ends heal over, or dust the pieces with sulfur.

Either method will lessen the chance that the potatoes will be infected by disease after plant-ing. Space the seed pieces 12 inches apart in a 3- to 4-inch-deep trench. You'll be ready to harvest new potatoes in seven to nine weeks.

Q.I have two hawthorn trees in the front yard that are about 10 years old and have always been healthy. This spring many of the leaves are half green and half brown. What's going on?

A.If your trees are located in poorly drained soil, the root system may have been deprived of oxygen during the extended period of wet weather. The result, in this case, is damaged leaves, but your trees will bounce back.

Leafminer feeding is a more likely cause. The larvae of these small insects feed between the upper and lower leaf surface. Tear apart affected leaves and look for their dark, dried excrement. The leafminer is usually not a devastating pest.

However, if most of your trees' foliage is infested, you can control the leafminers by applying a registered systemic insecticide.

Q.Every year my day lily foliage develops brown streaks down the center. They bloom fine and come back strong each year but the streaks take away from the planting. Is this a disease and is there anything I can do about it?

A.There are at least three foliar diseases of day lilies that produce leaf spots and streaks. None is a serious threat to plant health. Affected leaves can simply be removed. No fungicide sprays are recommended.

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 or visit its Web site at www.agnr.umd.edu/users/hgic.

THIS WEEK'S CHECKLIST

* Mow 'em high and let 'em lie. Practice "grasscycling" by letting your clippings decompose naturally on your lawn. This does not lead to thatch build-up.

* Avoid using Japanese beetle traps; they often attract additional beetles to your yard. Japanese beetles are especially attracted to apples, brambles, roses, sassafras, basswood, evening primrose and hardy geraniums.

* Leave snakes alone; they are beneficial creatures. They are active right now because it is mating season.

Pub Date: 6/21/98

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