Asparagus crowns are hardy, even if the spears are not

BACKYARD Q&A

May 06, 2001

Q. I have 4-year-old asparagus plants that gave me wonderful, tender spears to harvest in early April. Then we had freezing temperatures that killed some new spears. I'm worried that my plants are dead because I don't see new growth. Should I replant?

A. Asparagus crowns are very hardy -- they can tolerate freezing temperatures. The above-ground spears will succumb, however. Be patient; assuming you have a healthy planting, new spears will emerge that will turn into 4- to 6-foot ferns. Those will produce food that will feed the underground portions during the dormant season.

Q. I have ornamental cherry and plum trees that have developed a strange disease. What look like small snow-flakes are stuck to many of the branches. You can rub them off easily, and it doesn't seem to hurt the tree. Is this something to be concerned about?

A. The "snowflakes" are the covers of white peach or prunicola scale. The covers protect very small insects that suck sap from small twigs and branches. This can cause leaf yellowing and branch dieback. You can gently scrub off the scale at this time and apply an ultra-fine horticultural oil in mid-May and early July and then apply a dormant oil spray in late fall. You may notice lady bird beetle adults and larvae in your trees feeding on the scale insects, helping you control this problem naturally.

THIS WEEK'S CHECKLIST

1. Be a good neighbor by picking up and disposing of pet waste when you walk your dog.

2. Sow bush beans every two weeks to have a continuous harvest of fresh beans throughout the summer.

3. Prevent blossom-end rot by incorporating a small handful of lime in the planting-hole soil. Also, keep plants mulched and well-watered.

Backyard Q&A is by Jon Traunfeld, regional specialist for the Home and Garden Information Center, Maryland Cooperative Extension Services 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.

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