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Ed Hume Answers Your Gardening Questions

Ed Hume cannot answer all of the garden questions he receives, but questions of general interest will be answered here every month.  Email your questions to HumeSeeds@aol.com.  Please note: we do not accept attachments.

Before submitting a question, be sure to check the index of previous questions and answers or search our site using key words.  Many questions have already been answered here on the site.

Other September Links

Ripening Tomatoes

I am having an unusual experience with tomatoes. They are not ripening or getting red. It is already over two weeks in heat and in the rain, they just hang on the branches, green as green can be. One tomato started to ripen but only about one fifth red, so I brought it in the house and it is now getting red. I would appreciate an explanation?

Evening temperatures have to be above 57 degrees for many tomato varieties to ripen. Some varieties even require warmer nighttime temperatures. So you may need to bring the fruit inside to ripen. Next year choose varieties that are more suited to your particular climate. If the soil around the plants is kept too cool and wet it will also delay ripening.

See Also: Growing Tomatoes in a Cool Climate  Ripening Green Tomatoes

Apple Tree Pests

A friend has an apple tree that is loaded with small apples. It looks to me like the leaves are covered with what looks like mildew. It's a grayish look on all the leaves. Also, there are ants running like crazy over the whole tree and it is covered with aphid. What would you suggest my friend do, beside trashing the tree?

There is no need to trash the tree. In fact, I wonder if there is a need to try to control these problems this late in the season. If you think it needs to be done use an organic type insecticide/fungicide. Your local garden outlet will stock a product that contains Rotenone and Pyrethrum or similar plant derivatives. These are generally mixed and recommended for the control of insects and diseases. Ask your local dealer, Certified Nurseryperson or Master Gardener for the one they recommend. Then apply according to label instructions. Incidentally, the aphids are a source of food supply for the ants, so they probably placed the aphids in the tree. A band of 'Tanglefoot' applied around the lower part of the tree trunk will help control the ants.

Planting Naked Ladies

I recently dug some bulbs from my Mother's yard in Nebraska, she called them 'Naked Ladies'. She never dug them up in the winter. So my question is when do I plant them in the Northwest? Do I plant them in the fall or should I wait until spring? In Nebraska these bloomed in late August and September and they have a pale purple bloom. Mother passed away last September and these were her pride and joy, so I dug some for my garden.

The plant called 'Naked Lady' is Amaryllis belladonna. They should be dug and divided right after they finish flowering. They do not like to be disturbed, so divide or transplant only on a limited basis. Flowers are rosy-pink in color and flower stalks are generally about two to three feet tall. Plant them in a bright, warm, sunny spot.

What To Do With Corn Stalks

Can I remove the corn stalks from my patch? Some of them did not develop ears.

Yes, by all means compost them or till them back into the soil, so they will decompose in the soil over-winter, and become compost humus. If you leave them they will continue to deplete the soil of additional nutrients.

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