Tackling vines that have taken over

GARDEN Q&A

August 02, 2008|By Ellen Nibali and Jon Traunfeld | Ellen Nibali and Jon Traunfeld,Special to The Sun

Last year, I let a volunteer white morning glory grow in my garden. This year, I have vines curling and climbing over everything. How can I keep the plant in one spot?

If you didn't plant the morning glory, it's probably bindweed (Convolvulus arvensi), which is a noxious guest that will never behave.

Bindweed spreads by an extensive root system and seeds that can stay viable for 60 years. To kill it, exhaust the root system by pulling it every three weeks. You can also apply a systemic herbicide (absorbed into the plant's system), such as glyphosate. You'll need to apply it more than once. Allow the plant to grow and flower before spraying a second time, but be sure to remove flowers so they cannot drop seeds. Use a shield of cardboard or plastic to keep the herbicide off other plants.

Another option is to leave a few inches of plant stem and dip the cut end in a small cup of herbicide.

When is spaghetti squash ready to be picked?

The squash is ready when the skin has reached its mature color (creamy yellow or pale orange, depending on the variety), the vine tendril has shriveled and turned brown, and the skin is hard. (You shouldn't be able to pierce the skin with a thumbnail.)

If you want to store spaghetti squash over the winter, "cure" it in a warm, dry place for a week, then store in a cool area.

Checklist

*Keep mulch fairly shallow so light rains can penetrate it.

*Do not use grub control in lawns unless you had dead, rootless patches and 12 or more grubs per square foot last summer or fall.

Ellen Nibali, a horticulture consultant, works at Maryland Cooperative Extension's Home and Garden Information Center, and Jon Traunfeld is the director of the Home and Garden Information Center. The center offers Maryland residents free gardening information. Call the center's help line at 800-342-2507 or e-mail plant and pest questions through the Send a Question feature at hgic.umd.edu.

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