Frequently Asked Questions

Question:
What is the difference between cool season and warm season vegetables?
Answer:

Cool season vegetables prefer cool daytime temperatures, while warm season vegetables prefer warmer daytime temperatures.  Cool season vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli, and lettuce will tolerate light frost whereas warm season...

Question:
What are some easy to grow vegetables?
Answer:

There are a number of vegetables that are relatively easy to grow.  Peppers, bush beans, leafy greens, and even tomatoes often make the easy to grow vegetable lists.  Be sure to select vegetables that you are most likely to eat as you...

Question:
What if I don’t have enough space for a large vegetable garden? Can I grow vegetables in smaller plots or containers?
Answer:

Yes, many vegetables can be grown in small plots or in containers.  Consider selecting more compact or dwarf varieties of vegetables for these situations. 

Vegetables That Can Be Successfully Grown in Containers or Small Plots...

Question:
What are some pros and cons to growing vegetables in raised beds?
Answer:

Raised beds provide several advantages over conventional garden areas. Wet, poorly drained sites can be improved by constructing raised beds. A properly prepared raised bed increases drainage, thereby promoting plant growth and increasing crop...

Question:
What should I do if I allow the lawn to go dormant, but the dry weather persists through the entire summer?
Answer:

Dormant lawns are in jeopardy of dying if dry conditions persist over an extended period. It's best to water the lawn if the turfgrass has been dormant for 4 to 6 weeks. Apply 1 to 1 1/2 inches of water in a single application. This will not...

Question:
If I decide to water my lawn during prolonged dry conditions, how and when should it be watered?
Answer:

The appearance of the turfgrass is the best way to determine when to water the lawn. The ideal time to water a lawn is at the first signs of water stress. Turfgrasses that have adequate supplies of water are normally dark green in color. For cool...

Question:
What organic options exist for controlling weeds in my vegetable garden or landscape?
Answer:

Hand Pulling

Mechanical control of weeds through hand pulling and cultivation as well as the use of mulches to suppress weed growth are effective organic options for weed management. 

Using Boiling Water

Pouring...

Question:
How and when should herbicides be used for weed control?
Answer:

In certain situations, a gardener can use herbicides to supplement other weed control strategies. Several factors limit the usefulness of herbicides in the home garden. Most home gardens contain a variety of plants in a small area. This restricts...

Question:
How can mulches be used to control weeds?
Answer:

Mulches control weeds by preventing the germination of weed seeds. Established weeds should be destroyed prior to the application of the mulch. In addition to weed control, mulches help conserve soil moisture, reduce soil erosion, prevent...

Question:
How do I control weeds using mechanical means, such as cultivation or hand pulling?
Answer:

Cultivation and hand pulling effectively control most annual weeds. It is very important to destroy these weeds while they are small, before they produce thousands of seeds, guaranteeing a weed problem for many years in the future. Like annual...

Question:
How do I control weeds in my garden beds?
Answer:

Keeping ahead of weeds and controlling them when they are small is essential for good weed management. This requires persistence throughout the entire growing season to remove weeds as they emerge. There are essentially two types of weeds in our...

Question:
How do I care for a jade plant?
Answer:

Place the jade plant (Crassula argentea) in a sunny window where it receives at least 4 hours of direct sunlight.  The jade plant is a succulent which stores water in its foliage and stems.  Overwatering (watering too...

Question:
How do I care for an umbrella tree?
Answer:

The umbrella tree (Schefflera actinophylla) is native to rainforests in Australia and New Guinea.  In the home, place the umbrella tree in bright, indirect light near an east, west, or south window.  Allow the potting soil to...

Question:
How do I control crabgrass in my flower bed?
Answer:

Crabgrass is an annual weed.  In flower and vegetable gardens, hoeing and hand pulling are the best control options.  When cultivating the garden, avoid deep tillage.  The roots of many vegetables and flowers grow near the soil...

Question:
Should garden phlox be deadheaded?
Answer:

Deadheading is the removal of spent or faded flowers.  There are several benefits to deadheading garden phlox.  Deadheading improves the appearance of plants, may encourage a second flush of bloom, and prevents self-seeding.  (...

Question:
My squash plants are blooming heavily, but aren’t producing many fruit. Why?
Answer:

Squash and other vine crops are monoecious.  Monoecious plants have separate male and female flowers on the same plant.  Male and female flowers are similar in appearance.  However, female flowers have small, immature fruits at...

Question:
Why are some of the fruit on my summer squash misshapen?
Answer:

Misshapen fruit may develop if pollination is inadequate.   When pollination is incomplete, the fruit develops unevenly because the ovary wall enlarges more adjacent to fertilized seeds.  Inadequate pollination may be due to low...

Question:
What kind of yield can I expect from blueberries?
Answer:

Blueberry plants should come into full production by the fifth or sixth year.  Gardeners can expect to harvest 5 to 10 pounds of fruit per plant from mature highbush blueberries.  Half-high blueberries generally produce 1 to 3 pounds...

Question:
There are small, white objects resembling kernels of popcorn on the branches of my silver maple tree. What are they?
Answer:

The small, white, popcorn-like objects are likely cottony maple scale.  Cottony maple scale is an insect.  It is most commonly found on silver maple trees.  However, it can also be found on other maples, oak, linden, hackberry,...

Question:
How often should I water my garden?
Answer:

The frequency of watering is determined by soil characteristics, weather conditions, type of plant material, and other factors.  In general, however, a deep watering once a week in dry weather should be adequate for most fruit, vegetable,...

Question:
When is the best time to water the garden?
Answer:

Early morning (5:00 to 9:00 am) is the best time to water the garden when using a sprinkler, garden hose, or any other device that wets the plant foliage.  When watering is completed, the plant foliage dries quickly.  The rapid drying...

Question:
Are there ways to reduce water use in the garden?
Answer:

Apply a mulch around landscape plantings and garden areas to conserve soil moisture.  Mulching reduces the rate of evaporation from the soil surface and also limits weed competition.  Organic materials, such as grass clippings, clean...

Question:
What is responsible for the yellow spots on my crabapple leaves?
Answer:

Cedar-apple rust is likely responsible for the yellow spots on the crabapple leaves.  Cedar-apple rust is a fungal disease.  The fungus  requires both a crabapple or apple and a cedar (juniper) to complete its life cycle. Crabapple...

Question:
The leaves on my sycamore have a bleached appearance in late summer. Why?
Answer:

The bleached appearance may be due to lace bugs.  Lace bugs are sap feeding insects commonly found on the leaves of shade and ornamental trees in Iowa.  The most commonly affected trees are hackberry, sycamore, and oak.  Adult lace...

Question:
A small greenish worm is eating the foliage on my cherry tree. What should I do?
Answer:

The greenish worm is probably the pear slug.  The pear slug is not an actual slug.  It’s the larval stage of an insect (sawfly).  The pear slug feeds on pear, cherry, plum, and several other woody plants.  

The slug-...

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