Q. We were very discouraged when we heard that the City of Baltimore was going to require residents to bag their leaves for collection. It is too much work. What alternatives do we have?
A. Bagging leaves is a lot of work and is very difficult to do alone. It really requires two people. Also, it adds a tremendous amount of plastic to the waste stream.
The answer, of course, is to compost the leaves and use them as mulch. If residents would recycle leaves back into their yards, there would be very little need for the city to collect them. One of the keys to making leaf recycling successful is to reduce the initial volume of leaves. Shredding the leaves with a lawn mower or a shredding machine is the best way to do this. Finely shredded leaves can be left on the lawn. More coarsely shredded leaves can be used as top-dressing for vegetable and flower beds, or can be used as mulch around trees and shrubs. Using these methods, most people should be able to recycle all their leaves.
Q. Several canes on my raspberries have died. When I cut them out, I noticed that there was a hole running up through the stem. What would cause this?
A. It sounds like damage caused by a boring insect. There are three species of borers that attack raspberries and burrow through the canes. The adults of all three species are small beetles that lay their eggs on or in the raspberry canes. The eggs hatch into larvae that burrow into the stem. Like most other boring insects, it is the larval stage that causes the damage.
There are several things you can do to control this pest. First, all infested canes should be removed and destroyed. Also, if there are any wild brambles in the area, they should be removed. These measures must be taken because the insect overwinters on or in the canes and will emerge to infest new canes next spring. The adults can also be sprayed with an insecticide. Call the Home and Garden Information Center (see the number below), if you would like more information on chemical controls.
THIS WEEK'S CHECKLIST
1. Don't forget to clean out gutters after the leaves fall. Clogged gutters leak water that can lead to damaged wood and peeling paint.
2. If you were using a fall fertilization program for your lawn, this would be a good week for your final application.
3. Are you looking for small evergreens to fill the pots once occupied by your summer annuals? Buy now while the selection is still good.
Dennis Bishop is an urban horticulture educator for the Baltimore office of the Maryland Cooperative Extension Services. If you have a gardening or pest problem, you can call the Home and Garden Information Center hot line (Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.) at 800-342-2507. You can also e-mail questions, order publications and diagnose plant problems by visiting the Web site, www.agnr.umd.edu / users / hgic.