WSU Extension Q&A

March 21, 2013 

Q. What is the best kind of manure for my vegetable garden?

A. Most types of manure can be used for the vegetable garden, but “composed” manures are the best to use. If fresh manure is to be used, it should be applied to the soil and incorporated in advance of planting. Cat, dog, human or pig manure is not recommended to be used in vegetable gardens.

Q. We are thinking of re-seeding our irrigated pasture this spring. Should we include alfalfa seed along with the grass seed?

A. It depends. Alfalfa is a high-protein, highly nutritious forage. It has the ability to fix nitrogen, so when seeded in a mix with grasses such as orchardgrass or tall fescue, it may reduce the nitrogen fertilizer requirement of your pasture. Alfalfa also grows well during the summer months, and therefore maintains production at times when the cool season grasses slow their growth.

For hay production, an alfalfa-grass mixture is a good option. For grazing, caution must be exercised when alfalfa is present in the pasture. Bloat can occur in ruminants, such as cattle and sheep, when grazing pastures containing large amounts of legumes such as alfalfa. It is essential that animals be adapted to the legumes and have ample dry feed before they enter pastures containing legumes.

Q. I didn’t cut back my hybrid tea roses last fall. How far back do I need to prune my roses and is now the time to prune?

A. This winter was mild. Usually after winter temperatures, you need to cut back to where the center of the stems is white. This year, roses did not sustain much, if any, damage from cold winter temperatures. Prune back the canes of hybrid teas to a height of 15 to 18 inches; grandifloras and floribundas should be pruned less severely. Experts recommend leaving only three to five of the healthiest canes and removing any spindly canes; all dead, damaged or diseased wood; and any crossing or crowded canes. The forsythias are blooming, so now is the time to prune.

Q. Are there any fruit trees that can grow in the shade?

A. Lots of sunlight is required for photosynthesis, which produces the sugars in fruit, so fruit trees produce better with more sunlight. There are some fruits like pawpaw, elderberry and currants that can produce light crops in partial shade.

-- Questions should be called in to the WSU Extension offices in Kennewick at 735-3551 or Pasco at 545-3511.

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