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Ed Hume Answers Your Gardening Questions

Ed Hume cannot answer all of the garden questions he receives, but questions of general interest will be answered here every month.  Email your questions to HumeSeeds@aol.com.  Please note: we do not accept attachments.

Before submitting a question, be sure to check the index of previous questions and answers or search our site using key words.  Many questions have already been answered here on the site.

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Increasing Tomato Prodution

Can you please tell me how I have to prune my tomato plants for a bigger crop?

The best pruning is the elimination of some of the stocks. Open the plants up for better air circulation. Do not remove too much foliage, because that provides the shade and protection for flowers and fruit.

I think the key factor in growing tomatoes is to go light on fertilizer and water. Water thoroughly once or at most twice weekly at the base of the plants (not on the leaves). Prepare the soil and feed the plants at planting time, then only once or at most twice during the growing season. Feeding too much will only increase foliage.

See Also: Growing Tomatoes in a Cool Climate

Rust on Hollyhocks

We have some hollyhocks that have developed a lot of rust on the leaves. Is there any way that we can cure this problem?

The best thing is to pick off the old infected leaves. Then, treat the plants with a fungicide like Daconil. Spray every 7 to 10 days needed. Be sure to cover both the tops and bottoms of the leaves. This winter, be sure to remove all of the leaves and stocks and clean the soil around the plants, so no leaves remain over the winter.

Weeds in a New Lawn

I have recently moved on to some acreage owned by my in-laws in the country and am in the process of trying to grow some grass. I have turned the dirt and planted Bermuda seeds but am just infected with weeds, weeds and more weeds. I need to do something quick because those weeds are probably sucking up all my water when I water the yard. I have just cut the entire yard and my question to you is what can I buy to kill those weeds!!!! Is there some kind of liquid I can spray on them or what.

Often the first weeds up in a new lawn are annual weeds that will disappear after the first two or three mowings. In other words, you might not have the problem you think you have. Why not take a few of the different types of weeds to a local garden outlet for an on the spot diagnosis. They can determine whether they are annual weeds or a perennial type that you may need to control. If they are perennial weeds, they can show you the type of product that is used to control weeds in a new lawn. Standard weed control products are too strong for a new lawn and cannot be used.

More Blooms on Lilacs

I have an established lilac bush in the front yard that hardly has any bloom on it each year. It has plenty of green leaves. I think it might be all the energy going to the suckers that shout up each year but I do not know what to do about them. I put some lime around the base of the plant 5 years ago and haven't down any other fertilizing since then./ I try to cut the suckers down each year but they seem to be more prolific each year. Can I put Roundup on each sucker individually or would that hurt the roots of the main tree. Last year I cutback about 1/3 of the tree thinking that that might bring on more bloom but it didn't help.  It has full sun and gets watered every time the grass does. Would Casaron help with the suckers? What do you suggest to bring on more bloom?

When you cut back the sucker growth, be sure you dig into the soil and cut it back to where the sucker growth originates. Otherwise you will increase the number of suckers. Right now, the best thing you can do is feed the tree with a 'Rose' type fertilizer.

With a pipe or crowbar make some holes at the drip line of the tree about 6 to 10 inches deep and 18 inches apart. Put the correct amount of rose food into each hole and water in thoroughly. Do this before the end of June. Be sure to follow the application directions on the fertilizer.

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