Blueberries suffer from last year's drought

Backyard Q&A

July 26, 1998

Q.Half of my 14 blueberry plants are dying. More than half the leaves dropped off or never developed. They also produced poorly last year. We use a well, so we couldn't water them during the drought. Will they recover?

A.They may and they may not. Blueberries have shallow root systems and no root hairs, so they cannot tolerate dry soil conditions. The symptoms you're seeing are probably a result of the 1997 drought.

Keep the plants well-watered but don't fertilize. Remove them this summer if they become completely defoliated and don't put on any new growth. Consider installing soaker hoses or drip irrigation tubing around your plants to maintain adequate soil moisture.

Q. I have a large bare area in my front yard from the removal of some shrubs. I want to plant grass now and was told I should choose annual ryegrass because it comes up fast. Is this a good choice?

A.Annual ryegrass does grow quickly but it is not a desirable turf grass. And you would still have to over-seed in late summer when the ryegrass is still growing. You'd be much better off planting a turf-type tall fescue cultivar.

Adequate moisture is the key to getting grass established. After you sow the seed, cover it lightly with straw and water the area twice daily.

THIS WEEK'S CHECKLIST

* Frequently pick tomatoes and other vegetables and fruits. Over-ripe fruits left on the vine or lying on the ground will attract yellow jackets, hornets, fruit flies and other pests.

* Clean out dead plants from backyard ponds, and fill ponds with fresh water if you notice a drop in water level.

* Plant a second crop of beans, summer squash and cucumbers for a late-summer harvest.

Pub Date: 7/26/98

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