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Beating Squash Vine Borers


“The last couple of years that we have planted zucchini, a worm of some sort has eaten to roots and caused the plants to die. We try to use as little chemicals as possible but don’t know what else to do. We have tried 7 dust, diatomaceous earth and this year we even tilled several times before planting but yet our plants still died because […]

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Fruit Tree Troubles in Texas


“I planted a banana tree early this year, and it just seems not to be growing. And my cherry tree seems to be dying, and why is it supposed to be in full sun or half shade? It’s in full sun. And my pomegranate tree bloomed but didn’t produce fruit.” Questions from Carol of Joaquin, Texas
Answers: It sounds like you are having lots of fruit […]

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Growing Strawberries Indoors or Out in Florida


“I really like to grow strawberries, but it’s so difficult here in Florida, finding the right time of year and location in our yard plus dealing with pests. Can they be grown inside?” Question from Lisa of Bradenton, Florida
Answer: Don’t totally give up on growing strawberries outdoors. When grown outdoors in Florida, strawberries are grown as annuals and planted in fall for spring yields.
Outdoor Strawberries […]

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Are Sunflower Leaves and Petals Toxic?


“Are the petals and leaves of garden sunflower blooms toxic to eat?” Question from Caroline from Evansville, Indiana
Answer: Stick to the seeds when it comes to eating sunflowers. The flowers and leaf and stem hairs contain a mixed bag of chemicals called sesquiterpene lactones that commonly cause bad reactions in humans–both on the skin or if ingested. In fact, they commonly cause dermal allergies, […]

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Genetically Modified Apples


“Are most apples sold today genetically modified?” Question from Anne of Portland, Oregon
Answer: No. The only commercially available genetically modified apples on the market are non-browning apples sold under the name Arctic® apples. These were just made available to consumers in November, 2017. So, how do these apples resist browning? The researchers involved didn’t add a foreign gene to the apples. Instead, they learned […]

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Best Time to Plant Fruits and Vegetables


“When is the best time to plant fruits and vegetables?” Question from Brittany or Pound, Virginia
Answer: It depends on the fruits or vegetables you are planting, their preferred weather, life cycle, and how long they take to bear harvestable produce. Overall, annual fruits and vegetables are divided into cool-season and warm-season categories.
Cool-season annual vegetables grow best in the spring and fall when growing conditions […]

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Using Sawdust in Gardens


“Is 30-year-old decayed sawdust good for vegetable gardens?” Question by Jean of Elizabeth, Arkansas
Answer: It depends on how decayed your sawdust is and its wood type. First, be sure your sawdust is not from treated wood. (Hopefully you can ask the person who created all that sawdust!) Treated wood contains dangerous heavy metals that can leach into the soil and be taken up into […]

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Best Green Beans for Northern Gardeners


“What green bean variety would you recommend for Minnesota?” – Question from Van of Hendricks, Minnesota
Answer: Early, early, early varieties! With the short northern summers of Minnesota, you want to choose a top-performing bean that produces as quickly as possible. Choose bush beans or pole beans, depending on your garden’s size and your planting preference. When seeking good veggie varieties for northern growers, I […]

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Managing Watermelon Black Rot


“I lost all of my watermelons to black rot. How can I prevent this next year?” Question from Tina of Holley, New York.
Answer: I am so sorry! The excess moisture of the season has caused extra problems for fruit and veggie growers out East. Black rot on watermelon (more commonly called “gummy stem blight” (GSB)) is a nasty disease caused by the fungus, Didymella […]

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Melon Growing Problems

‘Little Baby’ Flower is super early and high yielding. (My kids love them!)
“Second year trying to grow melons. Can’t seem to get fruit, and if I get one it’s too late for the growing season. Is it a lack of pollination…I always plant them early. Thanks!” Question by Chris of Orange, Connecticut
Answer: It’s so frustrating when you get lots of vine and no fruit. Several factors […]

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