Friday, October 24, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Garden doctor: Careful, it’s a 100-year decision

Agave americanaW

It's a big job to remove a "century plant" (Agave americana), which has serrated leaves that end in very sharp spines. Avoid skin contact with the milky sap, which can cause burning and itching as long as a year after exposure. Courtesy photo

Question: We just moved into our house, and want to remove a large “century plant” that was planted by the former homeowner. It is very large, a hazard, and needs to be taken out. How should I proceed?
Answer: Agaves are native plants of North America, and are growing in popularity because they require no water once mature. (One agave is very popular with many non-gardeners, too. It was first grown in the Mexican town that bears the name of the famous drink it provides, Tequila.)

Century plants are so called because they are supposed to live a hundred years, then bloom and die. In fact, they may bloom more frequently, and also can produce new plants by vegetative offsets from the older plant.

Remove a live century plant (Agave americana) very carefully, with preparation and precautions. Protect against the serrated leaves that end in very sharp spines; wear protective clothing, including eyewear and gloves. Avoid skin contact with the milky sap that can cause burning and itching as long as a year after exposure. Resist the impulse to try a mechanical device (for example, a chainsaw) that can splash the sap on you and others.

Carefully trim off the sharp outer leaves with hedge trimmers or large pruners until you expose the base of the plant. Using pruners or an ax, cut the main stem. Remove the remainder of the stump to a safe area. Chop the plant into smaller pieces and put into the compost pile or put with yard waste removal after sealing it in bags.
To make sure a century plant does not come back, remove as much of the taproot as possible. After removing the leaves and stem, dig two to three feet down around the taproot. Use the ax or pruners to sever the taproot as far down as you can dig and remove it.
Sunset Western Garden Book says of Agave americana, “be sure you really want one before planting it.” Consider alternative architectural plants that will grow to a more manageable size and not create hazards in your yard. Removing mature plants is hard work and often very difficult. A little homework can save a lot of grief later on.
Question: Usually my summer squash are so prolific, but this year they aren’t doing so well. I have noticed small beetles, only a fourth inch long, that have pretty green stripes. Are these a problem?
Answer: The cucumber beetle (there are both striped and spotted versions) is a common insect that can be found feeding on a number of plants in the home garden — especially cucumbers and melons. The insects live about 8 weeks, and both the larva and adult form feed on plants. They also carry and spread the bacterial wilt organism and cucumber mosaic virus.

Eggs are laid on the undersides of leaves. Eradication of this pest is difficult but you should remove and crush any cucumber beetles you see. At the end of the growing season, be sure to clean up dead plant litter to prevent these insects from overwintering in your garden.
The next time you plant cucumbers or any of their relatives, try a trick from the UC Davis Integrated Pest Management website: http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/GARDEN/VEGES/PESTS/cucumberbeet.html. Cover the emerging seedlings with floating row cover or ordinary cloth until the plants have several sets of mature leaves. At this point, the plants can withstand some damage from chewing insects.
————

Come see us to get answers to your gardening questions! Master Gardeners staff the Farmers Markets in Davis, West Sacramento and Woodland. On Aug. 9, they will assist with the seventh annual Woodland Tomato Festival from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Freeman Park on Main Street.

— Send questions, addressed to the “Garden Doctor,” by email to mgyolo@ucdavis.edu, voice mail to 530-666-8737, or regular mail to UCCE Master Gardeners, 70 Cottonwood St., Woodland, CA 95695. Be sure to include your contact information because any questions not answered in the Garden Doctor column will be answered with a phone call or email to you.

You can request the Yolo Gardener newsletter, delivered by email, and learn more about the Master Gardener program in Yolo County at http://ucanr.edu/sites/YCMG.

Comments

comments

Special to The Enterprise

.

News

A-Z: Downtown Davis is the place to celebrate

By Kimberly Yarris | From Page: C1

 
Courageous Thompson tapped for cycling shrine

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
UC researchers: How low-water can our landscapes go?

By Katie F. Hetrick | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Testimony begins in Winters murder trial

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Hong Kong protesters to vote on staying in streets

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Cloud business lifts Microsoft’s quarterly results

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Scientists work to save endangered desert mammal

By Kat Kerlin | From Page: A3 | Gallery

Host families needed for students and teachers from Mexico

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

 
Halloween Dance set Friday for teens

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Yoga and chanting workshop planned

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Downtown menu: coffee, boba tea, dessert

By Wendy Weitzel | From Page: C3

Can you give them a home?

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Video highlights Props. 1 and 2

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

‘Homeopathy at Home’ program planned

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Celebrate origami at Davis library

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Garden sale and open house features water-wise demos

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: C4

 
Meet Poppenga at dog park Sunday

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Day of the Dead folk art class set

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Flea Market planned Sunday

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Enjoy A Taste of Capay at historic ranch

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Red-hot tunes set at Blues Harvest

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Learn how to fill a cornucopia with flowers

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Bay Bridge art project needs $4 million to keep shining

By San Francisco Chronicle | From Page: A5 | Gallery

Weir honored, a year early

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

 
Explorit: Poison-proof your home with free lecture

By Lisa Justice | From Page: A6

For a good cause

By Fred Gladdis | From Page: A6

 
Americans, internationals make connections

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A6

Sutter auxiliary seeks volunteers

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

 
School board hopefuls discuss homework policy

By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A7

Walkers welcome to join Sierra Club outings

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

 
Project Linus seeks donations

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

.

Forum

The magic is long gone

By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

 
Experience nature’s treasures

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

 
Subs have other concerns

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

Tom Meyer cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: A10

 
What’s next with Ebola?

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

More theories on the abstention

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

 
Rights beget responsibilities

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

Water returns to its source

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

 
A solution to the drought

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

.

Sports

Aggies expect a bonny meeting in Sacramento

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

 
DHS footballers take on Pleasant Grove

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

Bye No. 2 comes at perfect time for nicked-up UCD

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Shhh. Are Aggie women BWC’s best-kept secret?

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

Bump, set, playoffs: Blue Devil girls clinch spot in postseason

By Thomas Oide | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
UCD roundup: Preseason awards roll in for Aggie hoopster Hawkins

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
Sharks suffer from road woes

By The Associated Press | From Page: B12

.

Features

.

Arts

DMTC plans ‘My Fair Lady’

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A11

 
Czech Philharmonic Orchestra to perform

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

Calling all artists for upcoming show

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

 
‘St. Vincent:’ Quite a character

By Derrick Bang | From Page: A11 | Gallery

Rumpledethumps to play at Village Homes Performers’ Circle

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11 | Gallery

 
.

Business

 
Car Care: Five things to ask yourself when shopping for a new vehicle

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B7

.

Obituaries

Lewis Melvin Dudman

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

 
Ann Foley Scheuring

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

.

Comics

Comics: Friday, October 24, 2014

By Creator | From Page: B3