Q: Can you talk about stinkbugs? They seem to have a hankerin’ for the south side of our house. Cathy Vogel, Decatur
A: The brown marmorated stinkbug (BMSB) from Asia has been busily invading Georgia for the past few years, feasting on peaches, plums and apples. Unlike native stinkbugs, the BMSB loves to gather on warm house siding and wander about. Many will be found indoors if you have cracks through which they can crawl. Gardeners in the Midwest and Northeast report thousands of them clustering on walls. Most garden insecticides will kill them outdoors. Indoors, sweep them up and kill them outside. Don’t use a vacuum unless you want to enjoy the bugs’ stink for several weeks. I have pictures of this pest at biy.ly/GAstinkbug.
Q: Last April I had TifGrand bermuda installed. According to the turf company, I should mow it no less than 2.5 inches for the first year. According to your recent Q&A you recommend cutting bermuda grass at 1.5 to 2.0 inches. Could you please explain the different recommendations? Alvin Russell, Fayetteville
A: If you have a lightly shaded site, which is typical for a TifGrand bermuda installation, I think a higher mowing height is best: 2.5 inches to 3.0 inches is fine. This gives the sod more grass blade surface to absorb sunshine and fight weeds.
Q: I need to severely prune several ten-foot-tall English boxwoods. When is the best time to do this? Kenneth Morris, email
A: You can do light pruning now but the best time for severe pruning would be in early March, just before new growth begins. Warming temperatures then will stimulate dormant buds to sprout new leaves and cover the plant with greenery.
Q: I am interested in straw bale vegetable gardens but I can’t find clean wheat straw bales anywhere. Several folks have told me that big-box stores sell bales that are full of weed seeds. Greg Lock, Gwinnett County
A: Wheat straw bales inevitably contain a few wheat seeds that will sprout as your bales produce vegetables, but that’s a normal part of the experience. The bales have few other weed seeds. You can scissor off the wheat sprouts when you see them and they won’t come back.
Q: I have some lovely Boston ferns that I keep in the garage over the cold weather. This year, I took the poor, pitiful survivors out of the garage and planted them in the ground. They just did great! Can I leave them in the ground or do I have to bring them in? Nell Summerour, email
A: Boston ferns won’t survive winter outdoors no matter how much you mulch them. If you have room indoors you could get a 23 watt (100 watt equivalent) compact fluorescent bulb and put it in an aluminum dome shop light to keep them happy indoors in winter. I have more information at bit.ly/bostonfern.
Q: Is there anything I can do to prevent the chipmunks and squirrels from destroying my tulip and daffodil bulbs? Eleanor Slater, email
A: The easiest thing to do is to spread chicken wire over the spot and cover with mulch. Make “hairpins” out of old coat hangers to pin the wire to the earth.
Listen to Walter Reeves Saturday mornings on AM 750 and 95.5 FM News-Talk WSB. Visit his website, www.walterreeves.com, or join his Facebook Fan Page at bit.ly/georgiagardener for more garden tips.