Jul 28, 2014
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The DeKalb Extension Garden Patch

A Question & Answer column for gardeners.

The DeKalb Extension Garden Patch

Spring came to Atlanta very early this year! - and looking at the weather forecast, it might actually be here to stay.  Color everywhere. What a display - daffodils and dogwoods, creeping phlox and pansies, redbuds and cherry trees - all in flower at the same time!

We won’t talk about the early pollen - the bane of gardeners with allergies!

Now is the time to get out in the garden and prepare for summer vegetables - my special interest at this time of year. 

We have some questions and answers for you, and hope that this will prompt many more. 

I want to know what kinds of trees are flowering this time of year and when I can plant some in my yard?

Spring flowering trees include: dogwoods, cherries, deciduous magnolias, redbuds, crabapples and more. The best time to plant new ones depends on the form you buy them in. They are sold in primarily three forms: container, bare root, and balled and burlapped. Container grown trees can be planted any month and the other two forms are best for the cooler months (Oct. through Feb.). Keep in mind that summer in Georgia is not a great time to plant any tree unless you are home to baby it by providing needed mulch and water.

My spring bulbs especially the daffodils are already past their peak and only have foliage left. They do not look that good without blooms so can I go ahead and cut off all the foliage – now?

No, you really need to wait until all the foliage turns brown and dies down to the ground. If you remove it early, the bulbs will not have enough time to replenish their stored food (sugars) and you will end up with weakened bulbs and poor bloom next year. The best you can do is to hide the bulb foliage in amongst other plants so it doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb. By early summer the foliage browns out and you can snip it off.

I have a bunch of large bees swarming around my deck drilling holes into the wood. What are they and how can I get rid of them?

These are carpenter bees and the females are boring holes into your wood to lay their eggs and multiply. These bees do most of their damage this time of year but if you do not control them you will have many more next year and they can do a lot of damage. Use surface insecticides that are labeled for bees, many of which are aerosols containing Pyrethrins. These chemicals have a very short residual so you must treat the holes themselves to get decent control of these ominous critters. Normally they are not aggressive unless you swing at them - then these females may actually sting you. In the fall, come back and check the holes and fill them with wood putty. Sand them smooth and re-apply a new coat of stain.

And some “quickie” answers to a few more questions - we can talk about these in more detail on later columns.

Don’t prune anything that is about to flower - you will lose all the flowers, and potential fruit, on, for example, blueberries.

Asparagus time!!  Harvest fully when your plants are 3 years old, but leave any thin shoots to develop into fronds.  That way the plant can photosynthesize to make its food, and will make healthier roots.  Cut them down at the end of the season when they start dying back.

Trees that don’t look healthy? - Call an arborist, preferably one that has an interest in protecting trees and not just removals.  Go to www.georgiaarborist.org to find one in your neighborhood.

White butterflies around your cabbages?  Hide your cabbages!!  The butterflies will lay eggs, which will develop into caterpillars, which will eat your cabbage leaves.  Cover the cabbages with floating row fabric - lets light and water through, but keeps the butterflies off.

I would like to recommend one of our local garden centers.  If you are looking for vegetable transplants - especially heirloom varieties - one of the best places to go is Hall’s Flower Shop and Garden Center on Memorial Drive.  They have many heirloom varieties of tomato transplants for your summer garden and have a check sheet with all the characteristics of each.

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