Q: I’ve wondered about purchasing beneficial insects for my yard. I’m particularly interested in ladybugs to combat aphids on milkweed that I plant for butterflies. Machele McCance, Walton County
A: Lady beetles certainly do eat aphids. The problem is keeping enough lady beetles around to eat all of the aphids in short order. In my experience, when you release lady beetles about half of them fly away, never to be seen again, and the others disperse around the garden. They don’t really concentrate on a plant that’s infested with aphids, though they may graze there intermittently. I think you’ll get better immediate control by either blasting aphids off with a water hose or brushing them off with a toothbrush. Milkweed has straight stems and no thorns so I think this technique would be easier and more effective than introducing lady beetles.
Q: We are planting soybeans in a food plot for deer. The seed company recommends 0-70-120 for fertilizer. What does this mean and can we mix it ourselves? Mike Prodehl, email
A: Since fertilizer dealers in different parts of the country sell different analyses of fertilizers that contain different amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, the recommendation is telling you how many actual pounds of nutrient to apply per acre. The seed seller is giving you a “typical circumstances” fertilizer recommendation. You would be much better off to have a University of Georgia soil test done (www.georgiasoiltest.com) so that you know how much lime to apply as well as fertilizer. Good soil pH is critical for soybean yields.
Rather than mixing fertilizer yourself, the simplest option is to march into your local feed/fertilizer store with your soil test report and tell them you are planting soybeans for deer. Most professionals will have the exact fertilizer you need for your plot.
Q: Where in the world is all the white clover coming from this year? My 7-acre plot is solid white. What’s happening? John Ragsdale, Social Circle
A: I drove past a lawn near my Decatur home that is just as you describe: white in all directions. Seed germination can be a quirky thing. Seeds need a particular set of environmental factors present in order to sprout: temperature, moisture, humidity, daylight length, etc. I theorize that there were a lot of clover seeds spread last year and few of them sprouted for some reason. But this spring provided the perfect environment for all of them to germinate at the same time. Many people consider clover to be a lawn weed but remember that it contributes nitrogen from the air to fertilize nearby grass plants. Honeybees also find tremendous amounts of nectar in the flowers. The white blooms will fade in a few weeks. You can mow then.