Q. My gardening friend who knows all about roses says I should deadhead my roses. I think it means cutting off the faded flowers. That sounds like a lot of work. Why should I do this and what is the best way of deadheading roses?
A. Deadheading means to remove spent blossoms of roses and other flowering annual and perennial plants. On modern roses and many flowering plants, deadheading encourages a second bloom period in summer. Other reasons to deadhead is to improve the appearance of garden plants and to prevent the development of undesirable fruits or seeds. It can be a tedious process. That is why plant breeders have worked to make annual flowers and some perennials self-cleaning, meaning they drop their spent flowers without developing seeds so deadheading is not needed.
The rule of thumb for modern shrub roses is to deadhead by pruning back to the first leaf with five leaflets. However, horticulture experts now recommend pruning back to a strong visible bud and not removing any more leaves that is needed to do this. On young newly planted roses, you may only want to prune back to a three-leaflet leaf because the leaves are needed to produce the carbohydrates needed for stem and root growth. The caveat now is to leave at least two five-leaflet leaves and two strong buds when you remove a spent rose.
Q. Can tomatoes be pruned?
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A. Yes. Pruning tomatoes helps reduce certain foliar diseases and will help existing tomatoes grow larger and ripen more rapidly.
Q. This is my first year raising a 4-H market steer for the Benton Franklin Fair and Rodeo in August. My steer seems to be doing well, but I’m not sure if he will attain a good market weight by fair time. If the steer is weighing 1,150 pounds now, will he be about the right weight at fair time?
A. Your steer’s target weight at fair time will depend on his frame size, because smaller framed steers reach the optimum degree of fatness sooner than a larger framed steer (around 0.25 to 0.45 inches external fat at the ribeye). That said, you have a little more than two months until fair time.
With a good ration containing concentrates (grains) and forage (hay), your steer can gain 3 pounds or more per day. At that rate, your steer should gain 180 to 200 pounds. by fair time, which would give a weight of around 1,350 pounds. This seems reasonable for a medium-framed steer. Remember to adjust your target weight at the fair for either smaller-framed or larger-framed steers to attain the desired degree of fatness.