Got questions about growing vegetables and fruit in Maine?

Extension experts identifies a plant sample for a client; photo by Edwin Remsberg

Ask the UMaine Extension gardening experts!

With years of experience in home horticulture and commercial agriculture, our experts help beginning gardeners achieve successful harvests, encourage gardeners and commercial farmers to donate excess produce to those in need, and use gardening as a vehicle to develop communities.

If you have a question about growing vegetables and fruit in Maine, you are welcome to

2018 Q&A

Answers are provided by Caragh Fitzgerald, Associate Extension Professor, Agriculture, UMaine Extension Kennebec County; Kate Garland, Horticultural Professional, UMaine Extension Penobscot County; Kathy Hopkins, Extension Educator, UMaine Extension Somerset County; Tori Jackson, Extension Educator: Agriculture and Natural Resources, UMaine Extension Androscoggin and Sagadahoc Counties; Cathy Kloetzli, Agriculture & Food Systems Professional, UMaine Extension Oxford County; Kathleen McNerney, Home Horticultural Coordinator, UMaine Extension Cumberland County; Marjorie Peronto, Extension Educator, UMaine Extension Hancock and Washington Counties; Elizabeth Stanley, Horticulture Community Education Assistant, UMaine Extension Knox, Lincoln, and Waldo Counties; and Frank Wertheim, Extension Educator, Agriculture/Horticulture, UMaine Extension York County.

Spotted Wing Drosophila Larvae in a rasberry
Spotted Wing Drosophila larvae in a raspberry. Photo by David Handley.

Q: I had small worms in my blueberry and raspberry fruit last year. I vaguely remember reading about a new fly pest. Can you give me some ways to prevent the recurrence? Do they also attack strawberries? The fruits softened as they ripened.

A: It sounds like you might have spotted wing drosophila. You can find out more information about them and how to make monitoring traps on this University of Maine Cooperative Extension web page Fact sheet — Insects (scroll down to the bottom). You can also read and sign up for the spotted wing drosophila blog that is available for free on the UMaine Extension Highmoor Farm website. It is a great resource for information and seeing the movement of the pest around the state next summer. If you are planting any new fruit crops, choose the earliest maturing variety you can choose for your area.

Q: Our birch tree is severely bent due to ice buildup and it doesn’t look like temperatures will warm up anytime soon. I am thinking of pruning it back because it is almost on a power line and is covering our walk. Is there anything I can put on the wounds to help it heal and not bleed out sap when it thaws?

birch tree bent under the weight of snow and ice
Photo by C. Eves-Thomas.

A: Don’t ever touch or work on a tree that’s near a power line. Any work that needs to be done near power lines or houses (or any complex work in general) should be done by a licensed Maine arborist. They’re trained to know the physiology of trees and also how to work safely. To find an arborist near you, see this list of arborists by town. Be sure to read “How to hire an arborist” fact sheet (PDF).

Once the ice is off of the tree, it may become upright again, though birches can remain bent permanently.

Regarding your question about applying tar on wounds: it is no longer recommended. Certain trees like sugar maples and birch should not be pruned in late winter or spring because of their sap flow. (Late summer into fall is best for these species, but most others are best pruned in late winter when dormant.)

Here’s more info about care and pruning of trees and shrubs:

Questions & Answers from 2017

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