Morning glory, though an annual, will reseed and visit next year

BACKYARD Q&A

October 14, 2001|By Dennis Bishop | Dennis Bishop,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Q. We were very busy this summer, and the weeds in our vegetable garden got out of hand. One of the plants that took over was morning glory vine. Can you tell me how best to get rid of it?

A. Morning glories are annuals that will die over the winter. However, they are prolific seeders, so you can plan on them being back next year. I would pull the existing plants out to prevent any further spread of seed and then be prepared to eliminate any new seedlings that emerge next spring. This could easily be done with a hoe, but it will likely take more than one hoeing. The hoeing will eliminate unwanted weeds, and will also benefit your crops by aerating the soil.

Q. I have a late season crop of kale greens that has grown quite well, but it had an infestation of aphids in late September. I picked off the worst of the infected leaves and put them in the compost. Will the composting kill the aphids?

A. There are several aphids that feed on kale. The most damaging of these is the cabbage aphid. Cabbage aphids survive the winter as eggs on leaves and stems. In time, the composting would likely kill the eggs; however, I would be concerned that some of the aphids will emerge next spring before they are killed. I would pick and destroy all infected leaves. The remainder of the plant can be composted after the last greens are picked in late fall.

Q. My fall mums were very nice last year, but this year they are leggy, and, though they have many blooms, the blooms are small. Should I replace them?

A. There are several things that could cause mums to grow leggy and have small blooms. First, they may be planted in too much shade. If that were the case, I would move them to a sunnier location. Crowding could also cause this type of growth. Mums have a tendency to outgrow themselves rather quickly and need to be divided. Rather than buy new ones, I would divide the mums shortly after new growth begins in spring. When you divide, be sure to discard the center of the clump and replant only the edge pieces.

THIS WEEK'S CHECKLIST

1. Have you noticed the needles dropping from your pine trees? The needle drop is natural and is not a cause for concern. The needles make excellent mulch.

2. This is the time when box-elder bugs and lady beetles try to enter houses. You can help prevent their entry by repairing screens and sealing cracks on the outside of your house.

3. If you have planted a new lawn, be sure to keep the young grass seedlings watered through the fall.

Dennis Bishop is an urban horticulture educator for the Baltimore office of the Maryland Cooperative Extension Services. If you have a gardening or pest problem, you can call the Home and Garden Information Center hot line (Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.) at 800-342-2507. You can also e-mail questions, order publications and diagnose plant problems by visiting the Web site, www. agnr.umd.edu / users / hgic.

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