Hank Wessels

Fall is here along with cooler temperatures. I wonder how many of us in the coming weeks would trade the colder temperatures coming, for a few more warmer days. I believe the record book will show we had many more hot days this season than usual, and there were many areas with a shortage of rain. I hope we return to “normal” weather next year.

Why did some of the carrots in my garden turn white before harvest?

These carrots and many other vegetables were affected by higher temperatures and lack of rain this summer. The whiteness may be due to all of the hard water which may have been applied this summer. Did you rotate the carrots and other vegetables this spring? You may want to try a different variety of carrots next season. You always need to plant the freshest seeds available. The older the seeds, the poorer germination and also the weaker the plants will be.

Are there any tomatoes planted this season that didn’t split on the sides?

Here are two varieties that did not split or crack on the sides: Healthkick and Amish Paste. This was reported by a gardener at the recent Farming Of Yesterday Celebration near Kiester. There were many problems with the growing of tomatoes this year, many of which were weather related.

Some of my shrub roses are wilting and dying, apparently due to damage from rose borers. How can I get rid of this problem?

For now at least cut the rose canes nearly to the ground, and burn the canes if possible. Doing this should kill the borer which could still be in the cane. Spray the canes with lime-sulfur — following all listed directions — yet this fall if the remaining canes still appear to have borers. Next spring, once growth appears again, spray the growing shrubs to get rid of any egg masses which may have found the canes. This is a good product to use on other plants such as tea roses and climbing roses.

When should I be cutting back my peony bushes and plants?

This job can be done now if you choose. If the leaves show disease, which they probably do, do not leave the leaves on the stem stubs, as this disease can carry over to the next season. If at all possible, burn these cut-off stems.

I have barn swallows trying to make nests around different areas of my house. What can I do to deter them?

One idea is to get a plastic owl and set it in the area where the swallows are trying to build their nests. Tuck this idea away for use with next season’s birds. Another idea is to attach a string or cord on a aluminum pie plate which will blow in the wind to deter the swallows. I have seen this work.


Hank Wessels is a Master Gardener in Watonwan County. He welcomes questions and comments from readers. He may be reached at 601 1st St. SW, Madelia, MN 56062 or (507) 642-8479.