Dear Helen: A curious volunteer plant appeared behind my greenhouse this year. It grew about 45 centimetres tall and bore white, trumpet-shaped flowers.
Can you identify it from the attached photos? I'm concerned it might be invasive or toxic. I have kept a few seeds from the spiny pods the plant produced.
Dear H.D.: Your plant is a Datura, probably Datura stramonium (thorn apple), a stout, branching, hardy annual with flowers like yours and prickly, egg-shaped fruits that are very poisonous. I've had these plants volunteer in my garden too. It's an interesting plant, but one best treated with respect - and caution.
Dear Helen: How can I prevent this scab on my apples?
Dear H.C.: The deeply cracked and corky apples indicate an advanced case of apple scab, a fungus that overwinters in fallen leaves. It is important to rake up all fallen leaves and any that remain clinging to the branches. Destroy the leaves. Do not compost them. I'd also lay a nourishing layer of compost under the trees in early spring to help smother any lingering spores.
At the first sign of olive green or water-soaked spots on the undersides of early leaves next spring, spray with sulphur. Suppressing a primary infection in spring will be a great help in inhibiting secondary infections.
Prune the trees to give them open centres for good air circulation and penetration of sunlight to all parts of the tree. Avoid overhead sprinkling.
Dear Helen: Our 40-year old walnut tree has always given us good crops until recent years when the nuts have been infested with tiny white maggots feeding on the husks and staining them black. What is this problem and how can I control it?
Dear Z.H.: This sort of damage is caused by the walnut husk fly, a pest that overwinters as a pupa burrowed into the soil under host trees.
Adult flies begin emerging around mid-July to mate and lay eggs in the developing walnut husks. Resulting maggots feed on the husks, turning them black and spongy. Infested husks do not come away cleanly from the nut shells.
The larvae, after feeding, drop to the ground to pupate.
The nut inside the shell is not harmed by the infestation of the husk, but the damage makes the nuts very messy to deal with. If possible, watch for the first signs of blackening and softening and remove those walnuts and destroy them. This will reduce future fly numbers.
If some affected nuts are missed, and harvested, removing all the damaged husk will help to prevent mould and allow the shell surface to dry properly.
Saltspring workshop. The Harbour House Hotel, Restaurant and Organic Farm in Ganges is hosting Winter Gardening for Beginners on Friday and Saturday, 9: 30 a.m. to 12: 30 p.m. both days, with afternoons left free for exploring the island. Led by in-house farmers, the program will cover planning a winter garden, choosing and planting seeds, weather protection, pest prevention and more on the first day. Topics on the second day include crop rotation, garden design, soil preparation and building structural aids. Cost of $319 includes the workshop, two nights accommodation in a harbour view room and breakfast each morning. www.saltspringharbourhouse.co m/packages/winter-programs.
Holiday wreaths and sprays. The Horticulture Centre of the Pacific, 505 Quayle Rd. in Saanich, is offering these popular holiday courses. For more information or to register please call 250-479-6162. hcp.ca.
? Holiday Wreath Making, at a choice of four times: Nov. 23, 9: 30 a.m. to 12: 30 p.m. or 1: 30 to 4: 30 p.m.; Nov. 24, 1 to 4 p.m.; Nov. 25, 1 to 4 p.m. Using a wide variety of greens, participants will learn the techniques of wreath making and take home an imaginative and unique decoration. Instructor is Lynda Dowling. Cost, including materials, for HCP members $35, others $45.
? Swags and Door Sprays, Dec. 1, 1 to 4 p.m. Floral designer Anne Bowen will help participants take advantage of HCP garden bounty to create beautiful front door, entryway or mantle decorations.
Anne will also demonstrate techniques for turning your existing outdoor containers into holiday decorations. Cost including materials for members $40, others $50.
© Copyright 2013