FARGO -- Are you up for an adventure? No, it’s not running with the bulls at Pamplona, nor zip lining at dizzying heights off the Matterhorn. Remember, this is gardening, and I get an adrenaline rush just from growing a jumbo watermelon.
Q: I’m sure you’ve been bombarded with winter damage issues, but here is mine: How far can a hedge be cut back and still survive? I’m not sure the variety or age since we weren’t the ones to plant it. The hedge suffered breakage from the heavy snow and, of course, rabbit damage. — Heide Martin, Fargo. A: Thanks for your great photo that shows what happens as both hedges and singly planted deciduous shrubs age. The branches become old, woody, brittle and bare at the base, and foliage becomes smaller and less lush.
FARGO -- In his biblical battle with Pharaoh, Moses neglected to rain down one of the worst plagues imaginable: If he had sent voles to attack the Egyptian ruler’s well-manicured lawn, Pharaoh would have been putty in his hands after seeing his turf in tatters. Moses should have thrown in an infestation of crabgrass, just for good measure.
Q: As the snow is melting, I’m noticing snow mold. Can I do anything to prevent it now or should I wait until it dries out? — Lauren Thompson, Moorhead. A: Thanks for sending a great photo, showing what is likely gray snow mold. Snow mold is a fungus disease that develops under snowcover, and the longer the snow remains, the greater the risk of spread and damage.
FARGO — This past week I trudged out to the toolshed through a few remaining snowdrifts to reminisce with my old friends. I wanted to reassure my hoe, rake and tiller that I hadn’t replaced them with shiny new models, moved away or gone to that big vegetable patch in the sky. It seems like an eternity since we’ve spent time together. April is a month we transition our yards and gardens from winter into spring.
Q: My Thanksgiving cactus has bloomed profusely in November every year. This past summer I kept it in a shaded corner of our screened porch, and then repotted it when I brought it into the house this fall. It bloomed a little less profusely in November, but then it bloomed again in December for Christmas, and again now in late March. The second and third blooms are less than November, but still quite pretty. Is it common for these holiday cactuses to rebloom like this? — Karen Hornseth, Lidgerwood, N.D.
Rabbits have a good thing going. They distract us by masquerading as the cute candy-toting Easter Bunny or Bambi’s buddy Thumper, while behind our backs their kinfolks are devouring everything in our landscapes from apple trees to arborvitae. I’d be more soft-hearted if their never-ending nibbling didn’t cause millions of dollars of damage to trees and shrubs every year. Rabbit damage appears heavier than usual this winter, based on the high number of emails I’ve received, plus extensive damage in our own yard.
FARGO -- There's a Christmas tree battle raging, and we're all in the thick of it. No, it’s not the neighborhood couple who required therapy after putting up their Scotch pine. Nor does it involve tempers flaring while locating the needle-in-a-haystack loose bulb that made the whole string of lights go out.
Q: I was shocked to see our 40-year-old spruce has developed patches of brown, dead needles. Since it's an established tree and it was a wet fall, I didn't water it. Is this caused by lack of moisture, disease or is this tree nearing the end of its life? — Kay Hogetvedt, Felton, Minn.
FARGO -- People who enjoy tending their yard or garden have much in common. I’ll bet I’m not the only one whose garden hose never kinks within easy reach, but instead knots itself way back by the spigot. We’ve all discovered that rabbits prefer ruining the plants most dear to us, and leave untouched those we value less. We treasure the first ripe tomato of the season as though we hit the jackpot.