Q. I noticed the weather has been abnormally warm in the past month, and I want to start planting my vegetables. My friend says that it is a bad idea to plant things like tomatoes and melons. I plan to cover my plants if frost is predicted, so why should I wait?
A. Plants like tomatoes, peppers, melons and squash are warm-season plants, and grow best when planted into warm soil when the daytime and nighttime weather is warmer. Even if protected from frost, they will not prosper unless a device like a Wall of Water provides extra heat and warms the soil. Your best bet is to plant frost-sensitive, warm-season veggie crops after May 1, which is the average date of the last frost in the spring for the immediate Tri-City area.
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Q. Last year, I cut down my cherry tree because I was tired of spraying. Now it keeps sending up lots of suckers. How can I keep the suckers from coming up?
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A. In the home and garden section of the hardware store, find stump killer. Treat your stump according to the label directions.
Q. How can I attract some beneficial insects to my garden in the Tri-Cities?
A. There are numerous beneficial insects like lacewings and ladybugs, but there are also small parasitoids that attack specific pests. The best way to attract them is to offer a diversity of food. Plant flowers or vegetables that bloom from early spring to fall, and try not to kill all the pests with insecticides. Predators need prey.
Q. I have larkspur in my pasture. Is it toxic to my cattle?
A. Yes, larkspur is a common poisonous plant in western rangelands. It can cause death losses in grazing cattle because it is highly palatable during the flower stage. Larkspur’s toxicity is highest in the vegetative and bud stage, and the toxic substances are alkaloids.
The signs of larkspur toxicity in cattle include weakness, nervousness, staggering, falling, rapid pulse, tremors, diarrhea, bloat and convulsions. Death may occur within three to four hours of a toxic dose. There is no treatment for Larkspur poisoning. Find more information about larkspur poisoning from Washington State University Extension personnel or your veterinarian.