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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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Other October Links

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Controlling Earwigs

We are having a bad time with earwigs here, and they are all but destroying the leaves on my sunflowers. Is there anything I can do, aside from using pesticides, to prevent them from eating my sunflowers. I've tried traps of vegetable oil/water and every night I go out and try to kill as many as I can with sunlight disliquid mixed with water. What else can I do?

Earwigs are tough insects to control. Sometimes moist newspapers spread the base of plants will draw them, then collect the newspapers and destroy them. The English, put a coffee can upside down on a stake attached to the plant, then collect the earwigs the next morning.

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Diseased Roses

Our roses have aphids and black spot. The leaves are dull and not healthy looking. Please tell me how to prepare for next years roses. Deadheading now and cutting the diseased roses and leaves?

Probably not much to do now. However, at the end of October, cut the bush type roses back to waist height. Pick-off all the old leaves and gather any leaves that have fallen to the ground and discard them. Do not add them to the compost pile, send them away with the garbage man. It sounds like they are suffering so I would suggest you dormant spray them with 'lime-sulfur and oil, in November, again in December and the third time in mid February. Feed them with a 'Rose' fertilizer in mid-February or early March.

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Weeds Among Wildflowers

I have a bed with Sweet Williams, and other wildflowers that come back every year. Now I have grass going through the bed and it's really had to pull out. Can I use a grass killer on that bed and not kill the perennials?

Most grass killers will also kill the plants. If you can once get the weeds and grasses out, you can use Preen or Weed Prevention Plus to keep the seeds from germinating. The problem is that it would also keep the seeds of the Sweet Williams and other perennials and biennials from reseeding.

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Pruning Weeping Willows

I have planted a couple hundred shrubs and trees in quite a large area and put paths weaving in and out. Our numerous weeping willows have branched out so much and I'm wondering what would happen if I trimmed them back a lot. If I cut back on the branches at the bottom that only have leaves at the very end, will they again leaf up? They are so pretty in this area and I hate to cut them down.

Weeping willows will take pruning and shaping very well. I think the key (of what I just said) is shaping. In a natural setting you don't want to give them a haircut, by boxing or rounding them….it just wouldn't look natural. The best time to prune would be during the winter dormant season months November to early March.

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