Damaged trees may have to go

Backyard Q&A

July 05, 1998

Q. Several of my trees suffered broken branches and split trunks from all the nasty storms we've had. I don't want to cut the trees down. What can I do to repair the damage?

A.Remove broken branches where they join a healthy branch. Get help from a pal or hire a tree-care service if the limbs are very large.

You should plan to have the trees removed, however, if the trunks are split or most of the large branches have been badly damaged. Such trees could present a hazard to life and property. Consult a certified tree expert if you're unsure how to assess the damage.

Q.Something is devouring my marigolds, salvia and coleus. I don't see any insects, and we don't have rabbits. What could it be?

A.Slugs are the No. 1 suspect. They eat small- to large-size holes in leaves at night and on rainy days. They usually feed on the leaf undersides, and leave a silvery slime trail that you may notice. Try setting out shallow saucers or pans of beer or a yeast-molasses-water mixture. The slugs are attracted to the aroma and then drown in the liquid.

You can also buy a chemical slug bait that can be sprinkled around vulnerable plants. Closely follow the label directions.

Q.The kids threw our jack-o-lantern in the corner of our vegetable garden last fall, and we now have many pumpkinlike plants growing with odd-shaped fruits (some look like squashes). How did this happen and can we eat the fruits?

A.Your Halloween pumpkin must have been an open-pollinated cultivar that was crossed-pollinated last summer with some nearby squash plants in the same species. You're seeing the results of those crosses. Pick these plants young if you plan to cook them as a summer squash. Let the rinds harden if you want to try baking them as a winter squash.

Garden tips are provided by the Home and Garden Information Center of the Cooperative Extension Service of the University of Maryland. For more information on these questions, or if you have questions of your own, call 800-342-2507, or visit its Web site at www.agnr.umd.edu/users/hgic.

THIS WEEK'S CHECKLIST

* Harvest garlic planted last fall. Trim off the roots, and allow bulbs to dry outdoors in a shed, garage or covered porch before storing them indoors.

* Mulch vegetable and flower beds with grass clippings, straw, xTC compost or leaves left over from last fall.

* Promptly remove spent flowers from annuals and perennials to encourage continuous bloom.

Pub Date: 7/05/98

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