In the Grow (Q & A)

The following question and answer columns are currently written by B. Rosie Lerner, Purdue Consumer Horticulture Extension Specialist and are distributed to news media around the state by the Purdue University Agricultural Communications. Columns from June 1995 - January 2006 were authored by Bev Shaw, Advanced Master Gardener.


April 1996


Q.Can you give me the proper way to freeze corn on the cob so it doesn’t lose its firmness? – Edward Serfin, Demotte, Ind. A. Sorry, but this is outside my area of expertise, and I don’t want to give advice on food preparation since improperly stored foods could actually cause one of my readers harm! Please contact the consumer and family science educator at your county Cooperative Extension Service office. He or she is specially […]


March 1996


Q. I’m moving into a new home where the previous owners had a small garden. What do I need to do this spring to prepare it for planting? Also, are the inexpensive seeds you buy at the department stores adequate, or should I go to a garden center? Is it better to plant seedlings than seeds? – Carrie Powell, West Lafayette, Ind. A. Start with a soil test of your new garden. Your Cooperative Extension Service office […]

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February 1996


Q. This past summer, bugs ate the leaves off my turnips, squash, rutabagas, etc., in a short period of time while I was away from home. I had applied wood ashes mixed with water and dishwashing soap. What should I use rather than a toxic chemical? Also, should I transplant evergreens in the winter or early spring? When is the best time for transplanting? I also have several locust seedlings to move. I have a wood-burning […]


January 1996


Q. I have been told that applying lime around pecan trees will increase nut size. Is this true? If so, how much and how often should it be applied, or what should the pH be? Are the pH requirements the same for other nut trees? Do English walnut trees leave toxins in the soil as black walnuts do? Can an old English walnut be replaced with a young one at the same site? I have some […]

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December 1995


Q: I have been trying to raise tomatoes on trellises for several years with not too much success. I tried shorter trellises, several different fertilizers and ground-up eggshells for copper and calcium. My plants grew tall vines, went above the trellis by about 3 feet and fell over, ruining my pepper plants next to them. Also, I had brown spots on the tomatoes. I tried different varieties, so variety isn’t a factor. Could you enlighten me, […]


November 1995


Q. How do I get rid of these small, round, red-orange bugs that look like ladybugs? They are swarming on our screens, doors and porches trying to get in the house, and many of them succeed. Nothing seems to discourage them. If you happen to smash them, there is a terrible odor. I don’t know if they damage anything, but they sure are annoying. Thanks for all your useful answers. – Ellen Roe, Crawfordsville, Ind. A. I […]


October 1995


Q: I have a couple of very large tulip beds (700 to 1,000 bulbs), and I usually keep them weeded by hand after the tulips have died down in the spring. Would it be all right to spray the grass and weeds that come up in the beds with Roundup in July or August? It would be a lot easier than hand-weeding the beds all summer. But would this harm the tulip bulbs in the ground? […]

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September 1995


Q. We have six flowering dogwood trees in our yard that are approximately 3 years old. (They have not flowered, yet.) Our yard is adjacent to a cornfield. Our problem is Japanese beetles. They especially like our dogwoods. According to publication E-75 from the Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service on Japanese beetles, flowering dogwoods are “relatively free of feeding by adult Japanese beetles.” Our dogwoods are not “relatively free.” Why are the Japanese beetles feeding on […]


August 1995


Q. For three consecutive years I’ve grown tomato plants and lost at least half of my harvest because the tomatoes rot on the vine. I’ve purchased several gardening books, and none seem to explain the problem. The rotting area starts from the bottom and spreads through until the whole fruit is rotten. I’ve even changed varieties, but with no luck. Is this a disease, or could I be doing something wrong? – Greg Faucett, Tell City, […]


July 1995


Q. What has happened to my peonies? This year my maroons are pink; my pinks are white. Then I have white, too. My red one has never changed colors. – Mary Harden, Clay City, Ind. A. Flower thrips occasionally feed on peonies, distorting the buds and flecking the petals with red or white. Thrips are most abundant between late spring and midsummer. They’re difficult to control because they’re usually protected by plant tissue, and they often reproduce […]


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