Q. I planted strawberries a few years ago and now the bed is a mess. There are plants everywhere and they don’t produce very well. Can I pull out the runners?
A. The new runners will be much more productive than the older plants so they are the ones you want to keep. Clean up the bed by training the runners into new rows and eventually tossing the old plants. Once they’ve become established you can cut them away from the mother plant and dig out and compost the original plant. Spring is a good time to move strawberry plants.
Q. The leaves on my peach tree turned yellow and dropped off. This happened quite suddenly.
A. Check for two things, overwater/poor drainage or the peach tree borer. Checking for drainage issues is as easy as checking the moisture content of your soil. It should be moist at 12 inches. If it’s sopping wet your question is answered. Adjust your water accordingly. If you see a gelatinous material oozing from the base of your tree, that would be evidence of the peach tree borer. The peach tree borer is a clear winged moth that looks like a steely blue wasp. The newly hatched larva will tunnel into the base of the tree causing serious damage. Treatment time is the first part of July and again the first part of August. Now, you’ll need to wait until next year. Follow the label directions carefully when applying any insecticide.
Q. Can I eat the sunflower seeds from my own sunflowers?
A. Yes. All sunflowers have edible seeds. Be sure the seeds are mature before harvesting. The neck of the sunflower will be brown and withered and the plump seeds will easily pop out.
Q. I have a pin oak that seems to be dying. The branches are dying back and the leaves are very yellow. This isn’t the first year that this has happened but this year it looks worse then ever. I’ve fertilized but that doesn’t seem to help. What can I do to save my tree?
A. Pin oaks have trouble with our high pH soils here in southern Idaho. Iron, or other nutrient deficiencies, are commonly seen in plants that prefer more acid. Yellow leaves that show green veins and signs of scorch and tip die back can certainly be suffering from this problem. Iron deficiency is hard to correct in trees because the problem lies in the relationship between the soil and the tree roots. You could start with a soil test to determine your pH. Depending on the size of your tree, amending the soil, foliar treatments or calling an arborist to do injections or other treatments are options. These treatments, however, are not a one-time fix and would need to be done every several years. If the tree is too far-gone, or the price of treatment is prohibitive, replacing the tree with one that is more adaptable to alkaline soil may be the best way to proceed.