Seedcorn maggot on corn kernel (Photo by John Obermeyer, Purdue University)

Seedcorn maggot on corn kernel (Photo by John Obermeyer, Purdue University)

Erik takes time to answer some gardening questions

Questions for the Gardener’s Corner, Erik answers

I received this email: “Help, I have beautiful plants that are dying off with root maggots. Where do they come from? Can I do anything to save them? Can I replant? I had beautiful plants last year.”

This is what I have found out.

Root maggots are more likely to attack in cool weather. The first thing to do is to get rid of infested plants. Dying plants will attract the root maggot fly and can be disposed of in the trash or burned.

Do not compost them. Once a plant is infested, it cannot be saved, but you can do several things to keep the following plants from becoming infected.

The larva will come to the surface to pupate, and then they are adults who will start the process all over again. Eggs can survive the winter in the soil.

Start early plants under an insect-proof cloche. Kohlrabi and kale are the most tolerant of root maggot attacks.

I have read about and have listened to people who had the unfortunate experience of having their garden crop destroyed by various insects. In many of those cases, proper protection was not used. The fact is, if you do not want to lose what could have been a great crop, it is most essential to use the protection measures available.

Floating row covers, companion planting, and crop rotation. The fact is by the time you see the carrots dying, it will be too late to save the crop, and to seed, a new one might not be an option.

Something I just learned. Pyrethrum is a natural insecticide extracted from the daisy-like Chrysanthemum, (Tanacetum cineraria folium), sometimes known as the pyrethrum daisy.

Pyrethrum flowers have been used to control insects for 2,000 years.

Another email: “Could you discuss growing squash in a future article?”

I have personally no experience with growing squash, perhaps someone out there could send me some information to share? This is what I did find out.

There are 23 types of squash in this family. The most common varieties of squash are categorized seasonally, either into summer or winter. They range in a variety of colours, sizes, and shapes. Squash is grown mainly in late spring and early summer and depending on the variety, they take between 50 and 100 days to mature. While there are summer squash and winter squash, both are warm-weather plants.

My apple trees are producing a great crop this year. Some of the apples might not remain on the trees because of their natural way of thinning them. If too many fruits are still residing, manual thinning might be necessary to remove excess fruit to improve fruit size and quality.

I’m wondering if anyone has experience with grapevines? I have attempted several times and purchased grapevines that were safe down to zone three.

The winter has taken a toll on the last year’s growth. Very disappointing.