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Plant late to avoid squash vine borer

When we realized our zucchini were dying of squash vine borer, we tried making the vertical cuts in the stem and fishing out the white grubby worms, but we were too late. How can we never have that happen to our beautiful zucchini?

Plant late and protect. Put out transplants or plant seeds in mid-June. Then keep them covered with floating row cover until flowers open so the adult vine borer (a moth) can't get to the zucchini to lay its eggs. You'll still have time for plenty of zucchini and even more plantings. This year, pull and bag your infested plants so the larvae inside can't complete their life cycle and be around next year. Butternut and cushaw squash are resistant to squash vine borer, and yellow crookneck is more resistant than zucchini.

After years of throwing money at my shady lawn with miserable results, I've finally gotten a decent turf by mowing 41/2 inches high! Any more advice?

One of the biggest mistakes is mowing too short, especially with fine fescue, which is the best grass for shady sites like yours. Mowers should be set on the highest setting. Another big mistake is mowing during dry periods. Fine fescues are even more sensitive to this than tall fescue and can be killed by mowing during drought. Avoid mowing then.

University of Maryland Extension's Home and Garden Information Center offers free gardening and pest information. Call 800-342-2507 or send a question to its website at extension.umd.edu/hgic.

Plant of the week

Pennsylvania sedge

Carex pensylvanica

Unlike most sedges that prefer wet areas, this native groundcover is excellent for dry locations in part shade. It forms soft, grassy clumps of narrow, bright green leaves about 10 inches high with a spread of 12-18 inches. Reddish-brown, thimble-like flowers top the fine-textured foliage in the spring but are not showy. This perennial typically grows in loose colonies with a creeping habit. Plant in large drifts as an understory in woodland gardens, borders, edges or wooded slopes. It provides seasonal cover for songbirds and small mammals and is deer- and rabbit-resistant. This sedge can be semi-evergreen in cold winter climates. Cut foliage to the ground in spring before new growth begins.

— Marian Hengemihle

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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