Put containers of cuttings in the ground for the winter

Backyard Q&A

November 08, 1998

Q. I took a bunch of cuttings last month from grapevines, privet and roses and wonder if they will survive outdoors if I plant them now. They're just sitting on my back step in plastic containers. Do they need a cold frame or greenhouse to survive the winter?

A. A cold frame is not necessary. Find a sheltered area and dig a trench wide and deep enough to accept your containers. Fill in around your containers with soil and then cover the cuttings with shredded leaves. They should do fine until they break dormancy in the spring. Then take them out of their containers and replant.

Q.I just discovered that groundhogs know what's good for them. They've been eating heartily in my patch of fall greens. They seem to cherish the broccoli raab, in particular. Are there any nonlethal solutions?

A. Cover your plants with a floating row cover. Try any garden-supply or seed catalog if you can't find the material locally. Cut it and drape it over your patch so that there's plenty of slack. Your plants can then gently push the fabric up and continue growing. Secure the ends of the cover to the soil or to the edges of your raised bed.

You can also try to keep groundhogs at bay by spraying hot pepper and garlic repellents on your plants' foliage.

Q.We inherited some apple trees with the house we just moved into. They are loaded with large apples that are covered with raised red dots. I've grown apples before but have never seen this problem. Is it a disease?

A. San Jose scale is the problem. The very small yellow nymphs crawl around until they find a suitable location and then feed on the fruits under the protective red covers you observed.

This pest also sucks the juices from branches and can cause a slow but steady decline in a tree's vigor and productivity. The over-wintering scales have black covers and give branches an encrusted appearance.

Spray with a horticultural oil at the dormant rate after all the leaves have fallen. Monitor your trees for this problem in the spring and be prepared to spray again next June - at the summer rate - to control the newly hatched scale crawlers.

This Week's Checklist

Add a nitrogen source (granular fertilizer, composted manure, finished compost) to your compost pile to get it "cooking" before cold weather sets in.

Grow amaryllis bulbs indoors to force them to bloom during the Christmas holidays.

Prune grape vines after leaves drop.

Pub Date: 11/08/98

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