Doug’s mailbag: Cucumber beetles, hot pepper plants and planting potatoes

Posted on: June 15, 2018 | Written By: Doug Oster | Comments

Gardening editor Doug Oster gets asked a lot of questions. A lot. And he doesn’t mind offering gardening advice. But rather than just limiting those answers to the person who asked, we thought it might be a good idea to share that wealth of knowledge with everybody.

There are three ways to send in your questions:

• Email

• Submit your question on our “Your Garden” section of our site

• Send us a message on Facebook.

(The questions may be lightly edited for grammar/clarity/etc.)

• • •

Kyle R.: Any tips on how to control cucumber beetles naturally?

Doug: Captain Jack’s Dead Bug Brew would work. I also grow resistant varieties like Diva, County Fair and Markemore 76. Planting another crop this time of the year and growing it up a trellis will help, too.

• • •

Hot pepper plants can be grown from saved seeds.

Chris V.: My son, who has never had an interest in gardening, purchased an assortment of extremely hot peppers last year online.
He saved several of them, dried them out and removed the seeds. He threw maybe 20 seeds in 4 small pots (each) never expecting them all to grow. Well, they all sprouted and now he has a cluster of about 15 to 20 plants in each pot.
They are all very small and would be hard to individually transplant. Do you have any suggestions on the best way to separate them?

Doug: Plants actually prefer to be separated when they are small. Turn a pot upside down onto a dry surface, maybe some newspaper. Have some small containers filled with moist planting mix. Gently tease the plants apart and plant them right away into the mix. One plant should be in each container. Get them established and then get them in the garden.

• • •

Janice D.: Hi Doug, I planted potatoes in containers for the first time after watching you on PTL. I planted three varieties in six containers. One has flowers already. When can I harvest for new potatoes? Do I pull the plant out of the container?

Doug: Pretty soon, how exciting. When the plant puts on flowers, that means it’s starting to form potatoes. I’d take a look in a couple of weeks and see what’s down there. Send me a picture when you harvest something.

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Doug Oster is manager and editor of Everybody Gardens with a passion for gardening and a love of sharing is experiences with other gardeners. You will also find Doug’s gardening contributions in the Tribune-Review each week. He’s an Emmy Award winning producer, television host and writer. Oster is co-host of The Organic Gardeners Radio show every Sunday morning at 7 a.m. on KDKA radio in Pittsburgh. Oster’s Outstanding Documentary Emmy was awarded for Gardens of Pennsylvania, a one hour special he conceived and produced for the PBS affiliate WQED. Doug appears every Thursday morning on KDKA-TV’s Pittsburgh Today live at 9 a.m. “Gardening is fun, he says, enjoy every day spent outside tending vegetables, flowers, shrubs and trees.”