Q. Can you grow kiwi fruit in the Tri-City area? What would be the best variety?
A. Hardy kiwi can be grown in this area. The problem is that you need a male and female plant that bloom simultaneously, and it takes several years to produce fruit. You might consider easier alternatives.
Q. What are the insects that make notches on the edges of my shrubs and perennials? They seem to really like my lilacs, peonies and roses. I have looked but cannot find anything but little black tarlike spots on the leaves.
A. It sounds like root weevils. The black spots are their excrement. There are several species of this snout-nosed beetle that feed on garden plants in Washington, including rhododendrons, roses, peonies, lilacs and many more. They feed at night, which is why you don't see them in the day. For the most part, their damage is considered more cosmetic than harmful, although they can occasionally cause significant injury.
You can go out late at night after dark and handpick the critters off the plants. If this is not practical, you might consider applying an insecticide on nonfood producing ornamental plants. Washington State University recommends products containing cyfluthrin, bifenthrin, acephate or neem oil. Apply pesticides in late evening when bees are not present.
Q. I have heard that algae growth in water can be a problem for livestock. Is that true?
A. Yes. Blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) bloom rapidly when the conditions for temperature, sunlight and nutrients are right. Sometimes, blue-green algae produce toxins that can cause serious illness to people, livestock and pets. A blue-green algae bloom can look like green paint floating on the water and sometimes can be bluish or reddish green. It is most common in summer and fall, but has been known to occur at other times when the conditions are right.
Signs of toxic blue-green algae include large numbers of dead fish, waterfowl or other animals. If you see the signs of poisoning, avoid contact with the water, keep livestock and pets away from the water, and contact your local health department or the Washington State Department of Ecology. The water can be tested to determine if the toxins exist.
-- Questions should be called in to the WSU Extension offices in Kennewick at 735-3551 or Pasco at 545-3511.