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Category Search Results for:
Fruits and Vegetables

300 Total Found

Question: 670-5211
How far back should I cut back my banana? William, New Orleans , LA

Mort's Answer:
Bananas will send out sucker shoots like the bromeliads. Bananas last only two years at the most. Cut back the banana to a foot, when a new side sucker starts to grow. When the new sucker is larger than a foot, then you can cut the old stump back to the crown within an inch of the new plant.

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Question: 679-212
We had a great crop of watermelons this past summer, the best ever. However, no matter how long on the vine, even to rotting stage, the melons would not turn red. Can you tell me why the melons would not ripen? Plants were in two different beds. The results were the same. One bed was harvested seeds, one bed new package seeds, and then the compost pile. Cantaloupe did fine, as did the cucumbers. Bobby, Central AR

Mort's Answer:
Watermelons usually ripen in 100 days. Some varieties like Dixie Queen and Charleston Gray will mature in 85 to 90. The time difference could account for the sugars not appearing in the fruit but was on time in the other Cucumis. In zone 7, where you are , you should have had enough time this year. Ideal temps are 65 at night and 85 during he day. I understand that you had drought this year. Watermelons love humidity but not too much. This may have more to do with the fruit not ripening. Soils should contain plenty of organic matter to hold water and fertility. It is rare that watermelons ripen in zone 6 on time. I would try earlier watermelons next year.

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Question: 751-2012
We are planting strawberries this year. We have a lot of leaves but not a lot of flowers. Should we be concerned? I do not know what kind. Diane, Auburn, NB

Mort's Answer:
You may have a rather large variety. It also possible that you may have used a fertilizer with too much nitrogen or you may have too much manure. Sidedress the rows with a low nitrogen fertilizer or bone meal. This will encourage more flower growth.

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Question: 753-2112
Which tomatoes do you recommend planting in containers for patios? Donna, Palmer,IL

Mort's Answer:
Any tomatoes will do well in the sun, if the container is large enough and the soil is good quality. They are easier to maintain although they will require more water and feeding. You will need a minimum of ten inch pots for small early tomatoes like cherry and grape. Plum tomatoes and other medium size should be planted in 18 inch. Larger and later tomatoes like Big Boy should be in half whiskey barrels. You can now buy plastic faux whiskey barrel. Be sure to use good soil and liners, if you use wood. I do prefer clay.

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Question: 176-5201
My wife started spraying our apple trees with a soluble fertilizer this year. We now have black spots on the fruit but not the leaves this year. We use a dormant oil spray every year. What can we do? Jim, Elizabeth City, NC

Mort's Answer:
Scab, fly speck or sooty blotch are best avoided with a program that includes dormant oil and Bordeaux Mix. As the bud swells in the spring, you can apply the first spray. A second spray is administered after petal fall with two more subsequent sprays. Follow directions on the label. Unfortunately, this program is too late for you this year. I would put out sticky, red maggot balls to discourage further egg laying by the flies. A soapy solution will help keep away most insects with the help of the red balls. I do not like to use soluble fertilizers on fruit and landscape material. The growth is too quick and requires constant follow up. Do not fertilize again for two years. Wash all the fruit and peel the fruit with black spots.

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Question: 177-5201
The lightening split our apple right down the middle. Will I have any apples and should I cut it down now? Sharon, Hastings, NEB

Mort's Answer:
I would cut the lesser half off at the stem. Use tree wax over the cut. Also apply tree wax over the exposed split that is left. Can you save it? Maybe. Should you try? Yes. You will need to fertilize as instructed in the above question. You will need to prune more severely because a lot of energy will be needed to restore the tree to health. The apples will ripen but they may be a lot smaller unless you do the recommended treatment soon.

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Question: 468-311
I have a ten year old apple tree that we topped off a few times. What is the best time to prune and the best way to do it? Karen.

Mort's Answer:
Lateral growth is the secret to good pruning of apple trees. Every other year you can prune heavy on your ten year old tree. All straight up and any cross branches should be removed down to the next branch. Try to keep the center of the tree open to the sun. This will reduce fungi and other diseases. Most orchards prune too heavily. You should have five main trunks with flower bearing branching off the scaffolding. Six inch spurs off the flower branches will increase yield. A ground cover of clover will attract bees and provide nitrogen for your tree.

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Question: 1183-2116
My apple trees seem like they have been girdled by some animal. We have two that have definitely been cut to the core. Any suggestions? Bill, Alpena, MI

Mort's Answer:
When the fibrovascular tubes just under the bark have completely cut off the trees are unable to feed the leaves. It can be saved with surgery if there is some tubes unscathed. You can make leaf shaped cuts that are contiguous and as deep as necessary to remove all brown wood. You can use a chisel to go deeper. I like a linoleum knife for the outside. Some of these cuts may be on different sides of the trunk and at different heights. You could also hire a tree surgeon to save the trees after catching the woodchuck.

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Question: 743-1812
I have a small apple tree, three years old, it has white/pink flowers now, but some leaves have holes in them, I found a green worm on one leaf and sprayed the tree with a baking powder, and ammonia recipe, next day I dusted 1/4 cup Morton iodized salt mixed with self rising flour, on all the leaves and flowers to get ants off the tree. I am hoping to get at least one apple this year. I put half a bag of Miracle- Gro at the base of the tree and watered that. I am hoping for the best. Is there something else I can do to keep the tree healthy? Marian, Warwick, RI

Mort's Answer:
Home remedies are hardly as effective as traditional methodology. Liquid fertilizers provide too quick a stimulus. Ants are natural predators and indicators that small insects are present. A good spray program includes oil sprays in the spring and fall and a home orchard spray. Follow directions on the label. Organic products require much more sophistication than most home owners can apply. Roses and fruit trees are natures most attractive lures to insects and disease.

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Question: 961-2613
We have a 35 year old Granny Smith apple tree. We cannot grow grass underneath. It has a lot of moss. How can I grow grass under it? Ric, Norwich, CT

Mort's Answer:
Because your soil is acidic due to too much shade and other factors, you may have to learn to love moss. Moss can be killed by sour milk but it will come back as sure as God made little green apples. You can thin out the tree to allow more sunlight. You can add lime every year. You can aerate the soil. This may not be fruitful for you, especially since the tree gets larger with age.

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Question: 975-2913
I sprayed my apple trees with an oil spray this early spring. I now have little specks on the fruit. What is it? Bill, Tulsa, OK

Mort's Answer:
Oil sprays keep the creepy crawlies away but not the flying insects. Scab is a harmless malady. The apples can be eaten but not stored for long or the baby flies will hatch You can spray with a mild solution of soap now. I often see that film on some of our native apples. I wish I had a dime for all the apples that I ate as a kid in Greenville, Rhode Island. You should wash all fruit before eating.

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