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The Rolla Daily News - Rolla, MO
  • Gardening to Distraction: Answering readers’ emails

  • Thanks for your calls and emails. The following are representative of the questions I have been getting recently:
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  • Thanks for your calls and emails. The following are representative of the questions I have been getting recently:
    "I have a hummingbird feeder and there are at least 30 bees around it. Would you like some bees?" — Vanessa
    Charlotte: Bees are raiding hummingbird feeders right now because extended hot temperatures trigger plants to go into survival mode and stop producing pollen. Try moving the hummingbird feeder to another area, or taking it down for a day to encourage bees to move on.
    "I read you article and enjoy most of all you say, but I have a hard time with those awful big green worms. They have (done) a great job on my few tomatoes. I try and pull them off, but they are so hard to see and worse to grab. I think I will keep after them. Not leave them to eat and plant more tomatoes.
    “I saw the hummingbird moth the first time a couple years ago, quite fascinating.
    “I do have something here that I don't really know what I have. It's a tree with small apples and they look just like the old fashioned green apple. They are not crabapples. I have two trees of them and had the old time apple tree that died a couple years ago ... the deer like these as well as all others and peaches. These apples are really small, about the size of a dime. This year there are lots of them. Are the eatable?" — Lena
    Charlotte: Hi, Lena, I do understand what you mean about hornworms. The tomato plant I gave mine to eat is now regrowing quite nicely so if you can set one aside for the hornworms, they should leave the rest of your tomato plants alone. Even little creatures need to eat!
    Without seeing the tree, it's hard to tell what it may be. I would take a photo of the tree and sample to Patrick Greenwald at the Phelps County Extension office, 200 N. Main St. (in the new courthouse on the side closest to the jail) and see if he can identify it for you before trying to eat it. If deer are eating them, it shouldn't be poisonous but I wouldn't try them before identifying what they are first.
    Thanks for writing and good luck wrangling those hornworms!
    "There are a lot of bees outside my place and I would like to get rid of them. Do you know anyone that would be interested in getting them? I live in Rolla close to Wyman school. Since there is a shortage of bees, I thought I would reach out to a beekeeper. The plants they are hanging around are not my favorite and I do intend to get rid of the plants. The bees recently showed up and are really interested in something blooming in my yard. I didn't plant it, so I'm uncertain what it is called. Just know I don't like the plants especially if they are attracting bees. Nothing against bees, just one stung my dog the other day and it was tough on him. — Kay
    Page 2 of 2 - Charlotte: Those bees you're seeing may just be out this time of year looking for nectar and pollen. Not much is blooming right now so bees are traveling farther to find food. Bees can fly up to 5 miles from their home hive so they may only be visiting.
    If something stung your dog, it's probably a wasp, a cousin of bees. Around here, people tend to confuse the two. Bees only sting if they are threatened, and they are only threatened when they are around their hive. They sting once, then die so they don't tend to sting unless absolutely necessary.
    The other possibility is your dog may have found a ground nest for native bees, and a native bee will also defend their hive with a sting. Your dog didn't have to do anything but get close to the hive in the ground.
    Even if you remove those plants, that won't keep bees away. Bees need to eat, too. As we develop more land, we are reducing their habitat. Can you walk your dog in another area? Bees will be settling in for winter shortly.
    "... I have gourds but they are only blooming. I'm not getting gourds. What's wrong with them?" — Alma
    Charlotte: Gourds need at least 150 days of constant hot temperatures to produce fruit. With the odd weather we have had this year, most gourds have not had the weather conditions they need to set fruit.
    Charlotte Ekker Wiggins is a certified Master Gardener sharing gardening tips in a changing climate at http://www.gardeningcharlotte.com. Copyright 2013 used with permission by Rolla Daily News - St. James Leader Journal - Waynesville Daily Guide. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Contact Charlotte at chargardens@gmail.com.

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