Snitch on snails right away

GARDEN Q&A

September 02, 2006|By Jon Traunfeld and Ellen Nibali | Jon Traunfeld and Ellen Nibali,Special to The Sun

Our local lake flooded this spring, and after the water went down, golf-ball-size dead snails lay scattered on the shore. Then I noticed live ones feeding up the creek. In 20 years, I have never seen these snails before.

After the Northern snakehead catastrophe, Marylanders know better than to dump exotic pets into local waterways, but citizens always need to be on the alert for new invasive species. Please immediately notify the state Department of Agriculture at 410-841-5700. Let them know that you suspect an invasive species has been introduced into the lake and creek.

My cantaloupes finally ripened but they aren't sweet. Why do they taste so bad?

During the day, muskmelon and cantaloupe plants photosynthesize sugars. At night, they use a portion of the sugars for energy to carry on respiration (release of carbon dioxide). Normally, the unused sugars make cantaloupes sweet. However, during extremely hot weather, nighttime respiration rates increase, and this uses up the sugars. You should get sweeter cantaloupes now that the heat wave is over.

Other reasons that cantaloupes are off-flavor include weather that is too cloudy or too wet, low fertility, injury caused by insects or disease, or stress. Or, cantaloupes could be just plain unripe.

Checklist

Remove the lower leaves of Brussels sprout plants to encourage growth of the sprouts.

Dig up extra chive, parsley, garlic chive, thyme and oregano plants, pot them up and bring them indoors for the winter.

Jon Traunfeld, regional specialist, and Ellen Nibali, horticulture consultant, work at Maryland Cooperative Extension's Home and Garden Information Center, which offers Maryland residents free gardening information. Call the center's "hotline" at 800-342-2507 (8 a.m.-1 p.m. Monday through Friday) or e-mail plant and pest questions through the Send a Question feature at hgic.umd.edu.

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