Bolting Lettuce and Moving Rhubarb Q: Last spring, I planted lettuce early in the spring. We didn't get to harvest much as they started flowering and the heads of lettuce were not heads anymore. What can we do to prevent this from happening this spring? A: There is nothing you can do …Read more. Garden Hoses and Rain Barrels Q: I am need of a new garden hose and the thought struck me as to if there is a hose that is drinking water safe? As a kid, I always drank from the hose. But I haven't done so in a long time. The question came up as I thought about using the water …Read more. Daylight Saving Wow, we made it to spring. Well, at least that is what the calendar says. There may still be snow on the ground just about everywhere, but the good news is that we have another hour of sunlight to help melt it away. OK, maybe not. But it sure feels …Read more. Planting Bare-Root Plants Q: We ordered roses, raspberries and a few other shrubs and one small tree from a mail order company. They emailed us that our order is shipping. We are not ready to plant these plants. I didn't think they were coming until the end of March. How do …Read more.more articles
Check to Make Sure Trees Aren't Planted too Close to Septic Systems
Q: What tree would be good to plant near a septic system? One that won't invade the tank.The tree would be around 10 feet from the tank.
A: The main structural roots of a tree are designed to grow in all directions from the trunk to support the tree, and the smaller roots develop from each main root. If a root is rewarded by its efforts with dry soil, it won't survive or will remain small until favorable conditions occur. If it finds moist soil, it will grow bigger and longer, sending out more small roots along its length.
Tree roots cannot search out and find water, especially water in a pipe or tank that is not leaking — they merely grow faster in response to finding water. Unlike aquatic plants, most dry-land plant roots need air in the soil; therefore, too much water all the time will drown most tree roots.
Septic system pipes are designed to leak nutrient rich water into gravel trenches or loose soil. As the pipe drains, air returns into the pipe. It is likely that a tree root near a septic system will grow very well, but the roots may develop in the pipe's holes and clog it up. Wrap a septic system pipe in porous cloth to prevent roots from growing into the pipe. Roots developing in the pipe's moist soil pull water away from the pipe and surrounding soil; the soil will not remain full of water and the system can be used more often.
Typical tree roots grow three to four times the length of tree branches. Look at it this way, how many trees are already within reach of the septic system? Tree roots grow under and past driveways, patios and sidewalks — if necessary, count your neighbor's trees too.
The larger the tree, the bigger the potential root system. If you were not looking for a shade tree, then a smaller ornamental tree would have less potential for problems.
If it was a new septic system, you could bury a plastic barrier wall in the ground between the system trenches and the tree. Barriers are used to keep some forms of bamboo and tree roots from growing under sidewalks.
Q: We were looking at our flowers the other evening, and we saw an amazing insect with huge pincers on its rear end. What is it? Does it cause any damage? If so, how do we get rid of it?
A: The Midwest and some other northern areas had a lot of snow cover last winter, followed by a wet spring.
The earwig is an insect pest many people seem to have this summer. They are 1-inch-long insects with pincers on the back end. They can pinch but not too hard, and they don't bite or sting.
In the fall earwigs put eggs in soil, which hatch in the spring and grow into adults by June. They eat many items: dead leaves and mulch, dead insects, live insects, live plants, flowers and fruit. Earwigs leave ragged holes in leaves and flowers; they will even climb trees and corn to eat the fruit. They eat crumbs of food once indoors. During the day, they hide in damp, dark cracks and under anything available. Earwigs feed at night — to be sure they are the culprits behind any holes in flowers or leaves, check the plant at night by flashlight. Outdoors use a contact insecticide. For earwigs inside your home, spray an insecticide that can be used for indoors on cockroaches. And be sure to follow label directions.
Q: My Yukon Gold potato has developed fruit. They look like tomatoes; they are green and golf-ball sized. I have grown potatoes for years, but have never seen anything like this. What is going on?
A: You may have missed it before, but your potatoes are producing fruit. The fruit look smaller since potatoes are in the same plant family as the tomato.
Most people grow new potatoes by using pieces of the tuber, which is part of the root. These pieces are often called seed potatoes, but they are not related to the seeds at all.
If you wanted to grow a new hybrid potato, you would have to cross the pollen from one kind to the potato flower of another kind; you need to grow new plants from the real seeds produced in those fruits. If you are not trying to create hybrids, it is not worth the bother to grow potatoes from seeds.
Just cut off any new fruits and toss them in the compost pile. Yukon Gold is one of the newer yellow-tinted potato varieties that have a moister flesh than the older white varieties. Since it is new, you may not have grown it in the past, and the old varieties could have been poor fruit producers.
E-mail questions to Jeff Rugg, Kendall County unit educator, University of
Illinois Extension at firstname.lastname@example.org. To find out more about Jeff Rugg and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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