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Milberger's Nursery and Landscaping
3920 North Loop 1604 E.
San Antonio, TX 78247

Three exits east of 281, inside of 1604
Next to the Diamond Shamrock station
Please click map for more detailed map and driving directions.

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Weekly Gardening Column


QUESTION : What is Asparation? It was touted to be a cross between broccoli and asparagus? I brought some at HEB!
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 it 'Broccolini'.
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 7-10 days.

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 bamboo.

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 gardener.
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 Garden

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 ago.
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.