Q: My cucumbers are growing in a ‘C’ shape instead of nice and straight. What is happening?
A: A couple of different things might cause what you’re describing; hot, dry conditions during fruit set, poor soil fertility, or poor pollination. Cooler temps might alleviate the problem this year. These suggestions will be helpful for your next crop. Keep the plants evenly watered and mulched. This will help with evaporation and regulate soil temperature. Improve your soil with lots of organic matter this fall. Shredded leaves and grass clippings are a great addition to your soil. Try not to use insecticides in your garden. This will help increase the number of pollinators and beneficial insects that call your garden home.
Q: My cucumbers and squash have hollow centers. Is there something I need to do to the soil to correct this?
A: This is a common problem and is usually the result of a nutrient deficiency and irregular watering (when the soil gets very dry and then very wet). Too much nitrogen may make the fruit grow so fast that the center opens up. Cutting back on nitrogen type fertilizer will help if that’s the cause. Some varieties are more prone to this than others. Hollow centers don’t harm the fruit, but the affected ones are sometimes bitter.
Q: I cut down a big tree in my front yard and now I have a big stump. Do you have any suggestions about what to do now?
A: The best and quickest way is to rent a stump grinder or hire someone to come and grind out the stump. Or you could always try hiding the stump with shrubs or perennials or use it as a container stand.
Q: I have almost half of my lawn growing in quackgrass. A garden store told me I had to kill my lawn to get rid of it. Is that right?
A: Anything that kills the quack grass will also kill the desirable turf. Quackgrass is a nasty perennial weedy grass that is hard to get rid of. So, yes, that is right. Spray the area, usually twice, to be sure you kill it all, and then overseed or re-sod around the first part of September. Begin the killing procedure soon.
Q: My green peppers don’t get very big. Should I fertilize more?
A: Maybe you kept too many peppers on your plant. Getting a bunch might seem like a blessing but it could be that the plant just doesn’t have enough energy to support that many fruits. Thin the extra fruit soon after they set . Or, small fruit may also be poor nutrition.
Q: Can I use roofing shingles and tar paper as a mulch in my garden to keep weeds down?
A: Probably not a good idea. Chemicals may leach into the ground and affect your plants. Use sheets of newspaper covered with mulch. If you have gardening questions, send them to me at gardengal.mydbsupply.com.