QUESTION : What is Asparation? It was touted to
be a cross between broccoli and asparagus? I brought some
ANSWER :In an attempt to breed a more heat tolerant
vegetable similar to broccoli, the Japanese seed company,
Sakata Seed Inc, crossed the broccoli with Chinese kale
(whatever that is) and came up with Asparation. Turns out
to not be any more heat tolerant than broccoli but they
liked it because of its long tender stalks. It was grown
and marketed by Sakata's American subsidiary in California
without much success. Sakata then got Mann Packing Co in
California to grow it. They are doing so but have renamed
Now you know the 'rest of the story'.
QUESTION : I am wondering, just how does a person
plant & grow ACORN seeds (nuts) in the first place &
get them to grow into possibly a tree later on? I have come
across some seeds & couldn't see them going to waste
& decided to plant them & maybe get them to grow.....
ANSWER :The biggest problem you have with planting
acorns is finding or having viable seed. If they are not
harvested off the tree, normally they are infested with
an oak weevil which eats out the center of the acorn and
destroys its viability. Check the seeds you have for a small
exit hole at the bottom of the acorn. If they all have holes,
save yourself trouble and just throw them away. You can
also float them in water. In other words put the acorns
in a bucket of water and discard the ones which float. The
floating ones are usually hollow.
If the seeds are from a live oak tree, they will require
stratification or cold, moist chilling in order to break
dormancy and germinate. Place them in a moist paper towel
and put the seeds and towel in a zip lock bag and then put
this in the refrigerator for 6 to 8 weeks. Normally you
can put seeds in a container in the fall and allow Mother
Nature to do this work for you.
After the 6 to 8 weeks of cold treatment is over, simply
place the seed in a container with a well drained potting
soil. Water the containers every so often and the seeds
should come up in 3 to 4 weeks.
QUESTION : I have just acquired some acreage which
has two extremely large stands of Bamboo. I have plans to
build on this property and want to know the best way to
get rid of the Bamboo. I know that just cutting down will
not prevent it from coming right back. I am hesitant to
use any chemicals due to the large number of trees (including
fruit and nut). Can you give me any suggestions on how to
handle this problem?
ANSWER :This is the answer to a previous question
on the same subject:
"There is absolutely no easy way to eradicate spreading
bamboo. The chemicals mentioned in the enclosed article
(which can be found at this PLANTanswers web site:
when used in accordance with the label instructions will
not damage the soil or prevent future plantings in that
site. Here is the article:
"In the proper setting, ornamental bamboo is useful
as a specimen plant, screen or windbreak. Unfortunately,
some bamboos SHOULD NEVER be planted this side of Hell!!!
But some species of bamboo are aggressive creepers and become
a real nuisance when spreading to areas where they are not
wanted. From this uncontrollable, rampant growth pattern
comes the common name for bamboo in this area -- Damn-boo.
The aggressive bamboo can indiscriminately emerge through
concrete walks, home foundations and even in darkened garages!
There is more than one way to control bamboo. The choice
of a method or the combination of methods depends on the
circumstances under which it is growing.
A large clump of bamboo looks as though it would be hard
to dig out -- but it really is not. Its many horizontal
rootstocks are close to the surface. All pieces of the shoots
and rootstocks should be removed or regrowth will occur.
Cutting bamboo shoots close to the ground, then removing
the regrowth each time it reaches 20 to 24 inches in height
will eventually kill established plants. Success with this
method depends on exhausting the food reserves stored in
the roots. The prompt removal of the shoots as they reach
20 to 24 inches is essential It will have to be performed
many times over a period of a year or more.
The length of time required for eradication can be considerably
reduced by using the right chemical in the right way. There
are several types from which to choose:
--Sprays that kill only the foliage they contact, such
as cacodylic acid, should be applied each time the regrowth
reaches 20 to 24 inches in height. These chemicals substitute
for the cutting of the shoots; their application must be
repeated to starve the root.
-- Sprays that are taken up by the leaves, such as dalapon,
MSMA, DSMA and glyphosate, and carried down to kill roots.
Dalapon is available as Dowpon and glyphosate is available
as Roundup, Klean-up and Weed-and-Grass Killer. Spray the
actively growing leaves to wet and allow a six hour drying
period. Even with these herbicides and mixing a double strength
solution, repeated treatments will be necessary to completely
eradicate established plants. To prevent these chemicals
from injuring roots of trees and shrubs in the area, irrigate
thoroughly before treating. Then do not irrigate again for
The bamboo should ONLY be planted in an inclosed, "containable"
area from which this devil- plant can escape. The majority
of "problem" bamboo originates from a neighbor's
planting. So BE CAREFUL and BE CONSIDERATE when planting
QUESTION : Is this the correct time of year to prune
crape myrtles or due to our mild winter, is it too late?
ANSWER : Crape myrtles need little, if any, pruning.
However, if you need to prune yours, now is the time to
do it. See the excellent article on Proper Pruning Techniques
which can be found at this PLANTanswers web site. It includes
a pictorial section on pruning crape myrtles:
QUESTION : We have several 9 year old double dwarf
fruit trees that we think have crown gall. It has already
killed two of them. I have removed the dead trees. How can
I treat the remaining trees & how can I prevent it from
spreading to the remaining healthy trees. I am just a backyard
ANSWER : You do not describe symptoms, so let me
explore two possibilities.
1) Crown gall--symptoms would include knobby and corky growths
at the graft union and on upper portions of the rootstock.
The bacterium that causes it is transmitted by contaminated
grafting, pruning, and weeding tools that come in contact
with or cause wounds. The bacterial source would have been
these tools contacting an infected plant. Because of the
age of your trees, this doesn't seem likely. I would have
expected problems to develop 1-3 years after planting. For
crown gall control, remove diseased trees including the
stump and roots. Replant with clean trees. Prune, graft,
cultivate disease-free plants first, then those with non-lethal
symptoms. Or, sanitize these tools with aerosol Lysol Household
disinfectant between trees.
2) Bot rot invading enlarged graft union. Tissue at the
graft union often is larger than either the stock or scion.
Damage by heat and drought stress sometimes allows the fungus
Botryosphaeria to invade and cause a canker. The infection
point may be branch tips, or cracks in the graft union.
This canker kills the wood, progressing from branch tips
to the main trunk, and may enlarge and girdle the trunk.
Once the main trunk is infected, it is just a matter of
time before the tree dies (sometime just the scion). Control
if based on prevention. Eliminate grass and other weeds
withing the drip line of trees and mulch heavily. Water
frequently in hot dry weather. Remove and replace dead trees
with young ones.
Mark Black, Extension Plant Pathologist, Uvalde, Texas
QUESTION : I'm looking for a flowering plant that
ducks won't eat. They are going to be under a small tree
so they get some shade, but in the afternoon the flower
bed gets the full sun. My real problem is finding something
the neighborhood ducks won't eat. I planted begonias and
they were gone the next day. I have Lantana in the other
flower bed in the front and they don't bother it, but I'd
like something else under my tree.
ANSWER : Try Turk's cap, Four o'clocks and firespike
and let me know which one works -- Thanks. I would imagine
they would eat coleus -- I'll bet they won't eat vinca (periwinkle)
if the location receives enough sunlight to make them bloom.
QUESTION :I want to plant gingers in a 21 foot bed
that gets morning sun and medium to heavy shade from about
noon on. I've gotten a couple of rhizomes of the white butterfly
and a bare root hedychium called "Peach" or "Narrowleaf"
ginger. I've never worked with gingers and don't know if
my lighting and soil conditions (pretty heavy clay, but
I'm adding sand, perlite, etc) are correct. I also don't
know how far apart to space the plants for full coverage
of this space. In other words, for each 5 x 5 section of
the garden, how many rhizomes or plants should be planted?
ANSWER : Any Butterfly Ginger type (Hedychium) would
probably work in that situation as long as you add lots
of organic matter, irrigate during the summer, and mulch
them during the winter. I would plant them on something
like a 2 foot spacing. Possibly even three with mulch in
between until they spread. -Greg Grant, San Antonio Botanical
QUESTION :I know you are an expert on vegetables
and ornamentals, but I was hoping you could advise me about
my lawn. We sodded with St. Augustine almost 5 years ago.
At that time there was also some Buffalo 609 in the sod.
My father told me not to worry that the St. Augustine would
over take the buffalo, but actually the buffalo grass seems
to be taking over the St. Augustine grass. Do you have any
suggestions for me. Do I have to resod with the St. Augustine,
and if so , do I have to dig up the buffalo grass before
laying the sod? My husband thinks we do not have enough
topsoil, but our yard looked so much better a few years
ANSWER : Are you sure that the invading grass is
buffalo and not bermuda? I find it hard to believe that
buffalo could take over from anything, much less St Augustine.
If, however, your lawn is receiving a lot of sunshine I
can understand the St Augustine declining. St Augustine
is an excellent grass for shady areas that get enough light
for it (St Augustine) to grow but it is not a good choice
for sunny areas as it then needs far too much water just
to keep it alive.
My suggestion is that if the area is in full sun, replace
the St Augustine with another grass. Bermuda or zoysia will
both do much better in full sun. I cannot recommend buffalo
as a turf as it cannot withstand foot traffic; it will always
have weed problems; and if watered, fertilized and mowed
will eventually be overtaken by bermudagrass.
All of our turfgrasses, with the exception of bermuda,
must be established vegetatively by sod pieces or plugs.
Bermuda can be seeded.
You must remember that a few years ago, it rained more
frequently than it has for the last several years. This
could be the reason that your lawn looked better then.
QUESTION :Dad and I were just wondering if decorative
cabbage was edible. Is it?
ANSWER : Ornamental cabbage and kale are edible and
even sold in H.E.B. Supermarkets.