If Plants CouldTalk: Plant Talk http://www.ifplantscouldtalk.rutgers.edu/planttalk Bill Hlubik's weekly article in the Thursday Star Ledger. en If Plants Could Talk 1997-2007 sconvery@verizon.net FrontPage sconvery@verizon.net Mon, 5 Nov 2007 17:9:38 -0500 180 http://www.ifplantscouldtalk.rutgers.edu/images/ipct-logo.png If Plants Could Talk http://www.ifplantscouldtalk.rutgers.edu 120 120 Nurture veggie plants once they're in the soil http://www.ifplantscouldtalk.rutgers.edu/planttalk/article.asp?ID=27 Thu, 22 May 2008 0:0:0 -0500 http://www.ifplantscouldtalk.rutgers.edu/planttalk/article.asp?ID=27 Bill Hlubik These concepts help a healthy garden grow http://www.ifplantscouldtalk.rutgers.edu/planttalk/article.asp?ID=26 Now that planting time has arrived for many of our vegetables, I am receiving a great number of questions on soil preparation, amendments and mulches. Some so-called "topsoils," sold in bags or in bulk, may have undesirable ingredients for a vegetable garden. Here is a sample of some questions and, in my response, some concepts you may want to consider before you use certain soil amendments or products.

Q. Is dyed-black mulch toxic and therefore not to be used in a vegetable garden, or is it safe?]]>
Thu, 15 May 2008 0:0:0 -0500 http://www.ifplantscouldtalk.rutgers.edu/planttalk/article.asp?ID=26 Bill Hlubik
Sunlight, soils and vegetable yields http://www.ifplantscouldtalk.rutgers.edu/planttalk/article.asp?ID=25 Q. I started preparing my vegetable garden for planting this past weekend. At one time, the garden was in full sun. Now, it is shaded by midafternoon. I've never had great yields with my clay soils and was debating moving the whole garden to the southern side of the house, where I get full sun. How much sunlight do I need for most vegetables?]]> Wed, 7 May 2008 0:0:0 -0500 http://www.ifplantscouldtalk.rutgers.edu/planttalk/article.asp?ID=25 Bill Hlubik Timing tomatoes and peppers http://www.ifplantscouldtalk.rutgers.edu/planttalk/article.asp?ID=24 Despite a cool, damp start this past Saturday, we had a terrific Agricultural Field Day at the Rutgers School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, Cook College Campus, in New Brunswick. In addition to all of the great music, crafts and activities for adults and kids, we had a tremendous assortment of unique plants for sale. The famous 'Ramapo' tomato developed at Rutgers was the hot item that sold out within hours of the start of the program.

At our Master Gardener and EARTH Center plant sale and informational tables, we answered many great questions about vegetables, herbs and flowers. Here is one of the questions.

Q. When is the best time to plant tomatoes and peppers?]]> Wed, 30 Apr 2008 0:0:0 -0500 http://www.ifplantscouldtalk.rutgers.edu/planttalk/article.asp?ID=24 Bill Hlubik Make sure your lawn is a natural beauty http://www.ifplantscouldtalk.rutgers.edu/planttalk/article.asp?ID=23 Q. I don't want to give up a nice green lawn, but I would like to know about natural alternatives to commercial fertilizers and pesticides. My daughter came home from school last week questioning our gardening activities and our contribution to global warming. We have decided to make a family commitment towards a more environmentally friendly lifestyle and my husband is now looking to purchase a hybrid car. What alternatives would you recommend for the yard?]]> Wed, 23 Apr 2008 0:0:0 -0500 http://www.ifplantscouldtalk.rutgers.edu/planttalk/article.asp?ID=23 Bill Hlubik Avoid pesticides for greener results http://www.ifplantscouldtalk.rutgers.edu/planttalk/article.asp?ID=22 Q. I do not like to use pesticides in my landscape and I try to manage my gardens and trees naturally. It takes a great deal of energy to pull out weeds by hand and I use mulches wherever I can. Can you provide some advice for someone who wants to have a healthy landscape and not harm the environment?]]> Wed, 16 Apr 2008 0:0:0 -0500 http://www.ifplantscouldtalk.rutgers.edu/planttalk/article.asp?ID=22 Bill Hlubik Helping a fig tree bear fruit http://www.ifplantscouldtalk.rutgers.edu/planttalk/article.asp?ID=21 Q. Is there a great secret in getting a fig tree to bear fruit?]]> Wed, 9 Apr 2008 0:0:0 -0500 http://www.ifplantscouldtalk.rutgers.edu/planttalk/article.asp?ID=21 Bill Hlubik Safely replanting a beloved peach tree http://www.ifplantscouldtalk.rutgers.edu/planttalk/article.asp?ID=20 Q. Twelve years ago, as a housewarming gift, I was given a white peach tree, which I planted in what has turned out to be the wrong place. I love this tree, and am thinking about having it moved. What's involved here?]]> Wed, 2 Apr 2008 0:0:0 -0500 http://www.ifplantscouldtalk.rutgers.edu/planttalk/article.asp?ID=20 Bill Hlubik What to do when a lawn won't grow http://www.ifplantscouldtalk.rutgers.edu/planttalk/article.asp?ID=19 Q. I hope you can give me advice on my lawn problem. I seem to be losing more lawn every year, even though I fertilize and treat it. Last season, the professional lawn service gave up and refunded my money. I have rocky soil with lots of shade, but even where there is sun, the grass seems to grow and die off. I even have put in shrubs with soil and they die in about a year. Now I am looking at almost all mud with erosion. What should I do?]]> Thu, 6 Mar 2008 0:0:0 -0500 http://www.ifplantscouldtalk.rutgers.edu/planttalk/article.asp?ID=19 Bill Hlubik Salt on roads can harm evergreens http://www.ifplantscouldtalk.rutgers.edu/planttalk/article.asp?ID=18 Q. My husband always puts salt on the sidewalk and driveway to melt snow and ice. I believe that the salt he's been using has damaged one of our pines near the driveway. With the recent snowstorm, he once again applied liberal doses of salt on our walkways. How harmful is salt to our pine trees?]]> Wed, 27 Feb 2008 0:0:0 -0500 http://www.ifplantscouldtalk.rutgers.edu/planttalk/article.asp?ID=18 Bill Hlubik Peppers and tomatoes that grow well in containers http://www.ifplantscouldtalk.rutgers.edu/planttalk/article.asp?ID=17 Q. I will like to know where I can purchase different kinds of hot pepper seeds and other plants, and which plants I can leave in pots so that when the weather gets cold I can just bring them in. Also, do you know what tomatoes I can plant indoors in the cold season?]]> Wed, 20 Feb 2008 0:0:0 -0500 http://www.ifplantscouldtalk.rutgers.edu/planttalk/article.asp?ID=17 Bill Hlubik Low-maintenance grass and composting issues http://www.ifplantscouldtalk.rutgers.edu/planttalk/article.asp?ID=16 Q. Are there any lawn grasses that require less mowing and fertilizing?]]> Wed, 13 Feb 2008 0:0:0 -0500 http://www.ifplantscouldtalk.rutgers.edu/planttalk/article.asp?ID=16 Bill Hlubik Get a taste of spring by forcing blooms http://www.ifplantscouldtalk.rutgers.edu/planttalk/article.asp?ID=15 Q. Could you provide some advice on forcing early blooms indoors for flowering trees and shrubs?]]> Wed, 6 Feb 2008 0:0:0 -0500 http://www.ifplantscouldtalk.rutgers.edu/planttalk/article.asp?ID=15 Bill Hlubik 'Ramapo' tomatoes back by popular demand http://www.ifplantscouldtalk.rutgers.edu/planttalk/article.asp?ID=14 Q. I've read that 'Ramapo' tomatoes are now available at Rutgers. This was a tomato that I grew in my garden years ago. It had that great "Jersey tomato" flavor. Why did 'Ramapo' disappear for so long?]]> Wed, 30 Jan 2008 0:0:0 -0500 http://www.ifplantscouldtalk.rutgers.edu/planttalk/article.asp?ID=14 Bill Hlubik Caution for Overanxious Gardeners: Planting and Protecting Warm Season Vegetables http://www.ifplantscouldtalk.rutgers.edu/planttalk/article.asp?ID=12 Frost Dates Sat, 5 May 2007 0:0:0 -0500 http://www.ifplantscouldtalk.rutgers.edu/planttalk/article.asp?ID=12 Bill Hlubik Keeping Rabbits Away from Desirable Plants in Your Garden and Landscape http://www.ifplantscouldtalk.rutgers.edu/planttalk/article.asp?ID=13 Question: How do I keep rabbits out of my vegetable and flower garden ?]]> Animals Thu, 26 Apr 2007 0:0:0 -0500 http://www.ifplantscouldtalk.rutgers.edu/planttalk/article.asp?ID=13 Bill Hlubik Grass is best left to fertilize itself http://www.ifplantscouldtalk.rutgers.edu/planttalk/article.asp?ID=11 Does it matter which fertilizer I use on my lawn?]]> Lawn Care, Fertilizer Thu, 15 Mar 2007 0:0:0 -0500 http://www.ifplantscouldtalk.rutgers.edu/planttalk/article.asp?ID=11 Bill Hlubik The Trouble with Poor Pruning http://www.ifplantscouldtalk.rutgers.edu/planttalk/article.asp?ID=8 I had one of my maple trees pruned about six years ago and there is a great deal of decay on the limbs that were pruned. Some of the stubs left from pruning are now decaying. Other limbs that were pruned flush have not healed over and there is now rot within the tree. I believe the tree is a Norway maple and it does not look as good as my other maple trees. The tree is not far from my driveway and I fear that it may fall on one of our vehicles if the decay gets worse. Should I remove the tree?]]> Pruning, Trees and Shrubs Thu, 8 Mar 2007 0:0:0 -0500 http://www.ifplantscouldtalk.rutgers.edu/planttalk/article.asp?ID=8 Bill Hlubik Heirloom Tomato Needs a Little More Love http://www.ifplantscouldtalk.rutgers.edu/planttalk/article.asp?ID=10 I have heard great things about heirloom tomatoes, but I never have any luck trying to grow them. They don't produce as many edible tomatoes and have too many cracks. Most of them go bad in the garden before I can harvest them. Are all the varieties like this or am I doing something wrong ?]]> Tomato, Vegetables Thu, 1 Mar 2007 0:0:0 -0500 http://www.ifplantscouldtalk.rutgers.edu/planttalk/article.asp?ID=10 Bill Hlubik Great Plants for New Jersey: Winterberry Holly http://www.ifplantscouldtalk.rutgers.edu/planttalk/article.asp?ID=9 Trees and Shrubs Thu, 1 Mar 2007 0:0:0 -0500 http://www.ifplantscouldtalk.rutgers.edu/planttalk/article.asp?ID=9 Bill Hlubik Reusing Plastic Pots http://www.ifplantscouldtalk.rutgers.edu/planttalk/article.asp?ID=7 Should I reuse pots and plastic trays for starting seedlings?]]> Indoor Plants, Insects Thu, 22 Feb 2007 0:0:0 -0500 http://www.ifplantscouldtalk.rutgers.edu/planttalk/article.asp?ID=7 Bill Hlubik Callery pear trees ripen to a troubled old age http://www.ifplantscouldtalk.rutgers.edu/planttalk/article.asp?ID=6 Question: This past year, several large branches broke off of my flowering pear tree leaving a large wound in the center of the tree. I have always enjoyed the spring flowers, but the tree looks horrible with the missing branches. The tree is next to my driveway so I am constantly reminded of the problem. Should I try to brace the remaining branches or simply remove the tree ?]]> Trees and Shrubs Thu, 18 Jan 2007 0:0:0 -0500 http://www.ifplantscouldtalk.rutgers.edu/planttalk/article.asp?ID=6 Bill Hlubik Crown Gall http://www.ifplantscouldtalk.rutgers.edu/planttalk/article.asp?ID=4 Question:
I have strange, large circular growths or swellings on the stems of my euonymus plant. The swelling does not appear to be killing the plant
yet. What should I do ?]]>
Plant Diseases Thu, 11 Jan 2007 0:0:0 -0500 http://www.ifplantscouldtalk.rutgers.edu/planttalk/article.asp?ID=4 Bill Hlubik
Test the soil for a happy new year in your yard http://www.ifplantscouldtalk.rutgers.edu/planttalk/article.asp?ID=5 Soil Testing Thu, 4 Jan 2007 0:0:0 -0500 http://www.ifplantscouldtalk.rutgers.edu/planttalk/article.asp?ID=5 Bill Hlubik Add Color to Winter Landscapes or<br /> Reducing Pesticide Use in Your Vegetable Garden http://www.ifplantscouldtalk.rutgers.edu/planttalk/article.asp?ID=2 Question:  M. P.,   Piscataway, NJ
While I was out walking, I saw  a bush that had no leaves left on it but the bush was covered with bright red berries.  I have never seen so many little berries on a bush. Can you tell me the name of this plant ?]]>
Trees and Shrubs Lawn Care Thu, 7 Dec 2006 0:0:0 -0500 http://www.ifplantscouldtalk.rutgers.edu/planttalk/article.asp?ID=2 Bill Hlubik
Good planting cuts need for pest sprays in garden http://www.ifplantscouldtalk.rutgers.edu/planttalk/article.asp?ID=3 Question: J. S. Woodbridge
I had a lot of disease problems in my vegetable garden this year. I harvested very few disease-free, large heirloom tomatoes, but I did have a pretty good crop of cherry tomatoes. I don't like to use any pesticides in my garden. Do you have any tips for next year's garden?]]>
Plant Diseases Mon, 4 Dec 2006 0:0:0 -0500 http://www.ifplantscouldtalk.rutgers.edu/planttalk/article.asp?ID=3 Bill Hlubik
The Wrap for Newly Planted Trees http://www.ifplantscouldtalk.rutgers.edu/planttalk/article.asp?ID=1

Question: S. H. Scotch Plains, NJ
I planted an October Glory Maple tree this past spring. Is there anything that I should do to protect the tree for the winter?]]> Trees and Shrubs Thu, 30 Nov 2006 0:0:0 -0500 http://www.ifplantscouldtalk.rutgers.edu/planttalk/article.asp?ID=1 Bill Hlubik