New blog answers fruit, vegetable questions

The University of Nevada Cooperative Extension’s master food preserver classes are full and now have a waiting list for future classes. I would recommend that if you have an interest in local food preservation, please visit our master food preserver blogspot at http://masterfood
preservers.blogspopt.com.
The blog has information on home food preservation and sourcing reasonably priced foods for canning, drying and preserving. If you have questions, our master food preservers can answer your canning and home food preservation questions there.

I am not sure what the future of Cooperative Extension will be considering its budget reductions during the past two years and the currently proposed 72 percent budget reduction by UNR, our mother university. I have been busy making sure that your gardening and horticulture questions will be answered free of charge regardless of our future.

I have two free newsletters: a weekly gardening newsletter and a fruit newsletter. My fruit newsletter has been inactive for the past six months as subscribers have probably noted. I have been preparing a fruit and vegetable blogspot in preparation of a possible loss of university support in the future. My fruit and vegetable information has migrated to a fruit blogspot where you can post questions and discuss your successes and failures. This is located at http://xtremehorticulture.blogspot
.com
and contains information from my previous fruit newsletters, current problems at the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Orchard in North Las Vegas and questions posted by readers. I will do my best to continue to answer your gardening questions regardless of our future.

Q: I have a question regarding grubs. We lived in Texas where we had grass and were accustomed to grubs, but we are experiencing them here. We were dumbfounded and unprepared for grubs in the desert. We have lost several very mature cacti to grubs. I purchased grub-control chemicals and have followed the instructions but still seem to have them. Is it normal to have grubs here? Are there specific plants they zero in on? Can you recommend what we should use?

A: There are many different types of grubs, so when we speak of grubs we have to be certain about which grubs we are referring to. Commonly we find grubs in lawns (white grubs, aetenuis beetles), in compost or decaying organic matter (June bugs), grubs in some cacti such as agave (agave weevils), and others.

In cacti it is usually the agave weevil, which prefers agaves to other types of cacti or succulents. This frequently requires a pesticide drench over the top of the plant and drenching the rosette about three times: once each in April, May and June, according to some growers in Arizona. The liquid is preferred for drenching.

Granular pesticides can be used but they must be watered in around the plant and should be a systemic approved for grub control. They should be applied about the same time as the liquid drench. The liquid drench has the advantage of killing newly hatched grubs from eggs laid in the bottom of the leaves in the rosette.

Q: I have had a jade plant in a pot for about five years now. It was a gift so I really don’t know how long it has been in that pot. It is doing very well except the branches are almost all falling down instead of standing up. I try to move it a little bit at a time but it doesn’t seem to help. It looks so heavy dripping down. Is it time to repot? I am afraid I will break some branches in the process. What is the best way of repotting without hurting the branches?

A: The biggest mistake made with jade plants in a home environment is not giving it enough light. This causes the stems to become weak, leaf drop and drooping of the stems because of weak growth along the stems and excessive growth on the tips.

Another problem is not repotting it after a couple of years and not introducing a “fresh” soil. Over time, the soil in the container becomes exhausted of nutrients and organic material. You can add nutrients through fertilizer applications but if the soil is exhausted, you will probably not give the plant the essential nutrients needed for healthy growth and in the right proportions.

Jade plants require at least eight hours of sunlight each day. If it is direct sunlight from our desert sun, it can damage the plant and cause sunburn (bleaching of the leaves and stems). It should be bright but indirect light. Repotting should occur every two to three years.

The plant can be made more branched by pruning. You can see along the stems where the leaves used to be attached. You should be able to cut (with a sterilized knife) just above these spots along the stem and you should get two breaks or two new stems just below your cut at the place where leaves were attached.

If you look closely at the stems, you will see two little bumps or buds at these locations. This is where the growth will come from. If you get excessive growth from a jade plant, cut just above this spot to get it to branch, getting two branches for every one you remove.

So give it more light, repot it and prune it back to encourage branching.

Bob Morris is an associate professor with the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension. Direct gardening questions to the master gardener hot line at 257-5555 or contact Morris by email at morrisr@unce.unr.edu.

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