Doug’s mailbag: Mystery bugs, lavender plants and watermelons

Posted on: August 6, 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 askdoug@535mediallc.com

• 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.)

• • •

Plant Hoppers

Frauke: These bugs were on raspberry plants and weeds in our backyard, close to the woods. What are they and what should we do about them?

Doug: Those plant hoppers are not a big deal, they don’t do a lot of damage. You can actually blast them off the plant with a hose or spray them with an organic control called horticultural oil.

• • •

Lynn: I have lavender in a pot. It is growing but all green with no purple. There are no flowers, just foliage. What should I do?

Doug: The plant needs full sun and good drainage; if it has that, it’s time to fertilize. There are certain fertilizers that promote blooming. There are three letters on all fertilizers. N-P-K. N is for Nitrogen, P for Phosphorus and K for Potassium. You want a fertilizer high in the last two. If you go to the nursery and just say you want something to help the plant bloom, they will point you in the right direction.

• • •

Sue: How can I tell when my Sugar Baby watermelons are ready for picking? I’ve read about the skin turning from shiny to dull green, but it seems to us like they’ve been dull green the whole time!

Doug: I like to look at the underside. When it turns from white to a creamy yellow, it’s ready. Another thing to look at are the tendrils close to the fruit. When they turn brown, that’s a good indication, too.

• • •

Previous mailbags

Strawberry plants, cool-weather crops, pumpkins and more

Tomato issues, zucchini struggles, lilacs and more

Hosta seeds, garlic, Alternaria leaf blight and more

Moving a hydrangea, hibiscus and succulents

Lilies, Brussels sprouts and septoria leaf spot

Garlic harvest, cucumber beetles, spindly tomatoes and more

Bladdernut, fungus gnats, rose black spot and more

Poison ivy, black-eyed Susans and container mix

Cucumber beetles, hot pepper plants and planting potatoes

Zebra grass, pale vegetables and yellow nutsedge

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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.”