Ask the Expert

How can I grow tomatoes without them getting blight or other diseases?

Question: I have raised beds. The last two years my tomato plants, started from seed, have developed what we think is septorium (the fungus. It could be blight, I guess) starting from the lowest leaves and moving up the plant till all the plants are decimated. I have tried using different beds, digging out the […]

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What caused Patterson onions to rot from the top down?

Question: Thrips ruined our Gladiolus entirely. The Patterson onions that were growing nearby looked healthy. We harvested the onions and placed them for storage in the cool cellar. Now it seems, 100% of the bulbs are rotting from the top down. The Ebenezers seem unaffected.  What is the issue? Answer: Jonathan Foster, Community Education Assistant […]

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When do you prune crabapple trees?

Question: When do you prune crabapple trees? Answer: Jonathan Foster, Community Education Assistant Crabapple trees should ideally be pruned in very late winter or early spring–during their dormant period to minimize risk of the pruning stimulating new growth in the wrong time of year. Plus, it’s a lot easier to see what you’re doing before […]

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How can I remove bittersweet from my yard that is killing trees?

Question: How can I remove Bitter Sweet from my yard that is killing trees? Answer: Jonathan Foster, Community Education Assistant I’m sorry to hear about your bittersweet woes. Left to its own devices, the plant can really cause some damage in the home landscape and is quite a nuisance, as I’m sure you’re aware. I’m linking […]

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What are some low maintenance groundcovers to replace a turf lawn?

Question: In front of my home on a city street, there is a smallish patch of lawn facing south and east that I would like to get rid of. Can you recommend a few low-maintenance, easily spreading groundcovers and flowering perennials? What is the easiest way (and the best time) to remove the grass? I […]

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Does soil matter to native plants?

Question:  Does soil matter to native plants? Answer: Jonathan Foster, Community Education Assistant As explained in our UMaine resource, Soil and Plant Nutrition: A Gardener’s Perspective, soil is a critical resource for all plant life, providing plants with anchorage, water, and critical minerals and nutrients, among other things. So, in that sense, soil is just as […]

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Should I prune Anne raspberry plants now?

Question: I bought two Anne raspberry plants.  Should they be cut down now? Answer: Jonathan Foster, Community Education Assistant I recommend first familiarizing yourself with the plant’s life cycle in our our Extension video (Growing Raspberries), by Extension Specialist David Hanley; the last part of the video specifically deals with “ever-bearing” varieties like your ‘Anne.’ Then move […]

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How do I rejuvenate an old apple tree?

Question: I have an old apple tree that is a family landmark. It is very overgrown and produces tiny apples. I would like to rejuvenate it. Are there any resources about pruning and care? Answer: Jonathan Foster, Community Education Assistant You’ll find all the answer you need for pruning your apple trees in our UMaine […]

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What are the spots on my bell peppers?

Question: I grow King of the North bell peppers each year and for the last several years, some of them have spots. The spots start from the inside of the peppers and eventually are on the outside skin and form dark rotted spots.  There is no insect damage that I can see, no holes or […]

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