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Problem & Solution
May/June 2016

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Row Cover
Problem: I have row-cover fabric covering my tomato cages, which seems to be working well. My question is, when do I remove the row covers? The top is open and the tomatoes have blossoms on them.
Thanks for your help. I have learned a lot from your magazine over the years.

Rosalyn Gohl

Solution: Tomatoes are wind pollinated, so those blossoms are getting pollinated if the top is open. To be on the safe side, row covers can stay on a few weeks past the last average freeze date for your area. Some gardeners leave them on even longer to help control thrips. Just remember that tomatoes need some air circulation to set fruit.

Westside Weigela?
Problem: Will Weigela (I’m considering a new cultivar named ‘Sunset’ in the My Monet series) survive on the west side of my garden in a rather dry spot?

Diana Gribble

Solution: That is a Proven Winner plant from Monrovia, a California grower. They say it needs good drainage and full sun with average water requirements. That sounds like it may not be a good choice for your “dry” west-side spot. There are several native plants that would do well in that spot that are drought tolerant.

Fork or Hoe?
Problem: Is this weed edible? It loves to crop up in my flower beds. It produces yellow flowers on stalky stems. It is so prolific that, if it were edible, I would never have to buy greens again! If it is not edible, what is the best control?


Melissa Aldrich

Solution: With help from Greg Grant, contributing editor, we determined your plant is Asian hawksbeard. We have also seen it called Asiatic hawksbeard and Asiatic false hawksbeard. Regardless, Greg says it is a common nursery and shady bed plant. We found at least one reference that suggests that it is edible, so use your own judgement if you want to sample some at the dinner table.

Getting rid of the plants won’t be easy. First, you should remove the mature plants and place them in a garbage bag so you don’t redistribute any seed that may have formed. Then keep a watch out for new seedlings, and hoe or pull them out before they get large and have a chance to flower and set more seed.

Rugged Beauty!
Problem: Good morning awesome Texas gardeners! Hubs gave me three antique roses for Valentine’s Day. The one I am hesitant to plant is ‘Mermaid.’ Does anyone have any pics they would like to share or advice on how to manage her size in a quarter acre lot in the city?

Francesca Rodriguez

Solution: ‘Mermaid,’ with its rampant growth and vicious thorns, would be a good one to screen the junk pile next door, reinforce a fence or keep burglars from climbing in your windows if strategically placed. Do not plant it near where friendly activity will occur. Keep it away from play areas, entrances and patios. Wear arm-length leather gloves when pruning. Enjoy its rugged beauty at a distance!