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Fielding Questions: How to grow peas on a patio

Don Kinzler, gardening columnist 1 / 2
2 / 2

Q: I live in a condo without space to plant a large garden. I love sugar peas and I'm wondering if they could be successfully grown in planters and trained as vines up my patio railing. If so, should I plant them soon and what is the best soil to use?—Gen E., Fargo

A: Patio Pride is a great pea variety that won an All-America Selections award for its ability to grow in containers. Sweet, tender pods are ready to harvest in about 40 days from seeding. A short trellis between the pot and patio railing will give good support to the compact vines.

Newer AAS varieties aren't usually immediately available on local seed racks, but an internet search provides several mail order sources selling Patio Pride. Peas can tolerate frost and they thrive in cool weather, so April planting is great. Miracle Gro Potting Mix is a good all-around container mix for flowers and vegetables. Many locally owned garden centers also sell similar high-quality mixes.

Q: We inherited an established asparagus bed when we purchased our home. Unfortunately, it's overgrown with grass. Is there any way to eradicate the grass other than pulling by hand? Or should I look at transplanting the asparagus to a new area? The asparagus produces well but the grass makes it difficult to find. Nancy B., rural Cass County

A: The active ingredient fluazifop selectively kills grasses like quackgrass, while not harming asparagus or other non-grass plants and is being recommended by university research for weed control in asparagus. Fluazifop is contained in grass killers like Ortho Grass-B-Gon. Apply the spray when grass is actively growing in spring. Several research universities indicate the waiting period between spraying and harvesting asparagus is one day. Always follow label directions.

Fluazifop is slow acting, so be patient. Apply when quackgrass is at least six inches tall. You probably won't see any death for several weeks, but the grass slowly turns dull green, then gray, and eventually brown. Repeat applications are needed because quackgrass has dormant underground buds that begin to grow after the first buds are killed. Reapply the product to regrowth through this season, and you should a much cleaner asparagus bed. Transplanting to a new location is also an option, but it would take several seasons before harvest would resume.

Q: How long can a person keep chemical sprays and powders before one should replace them? I take them in the house before winter so they don't freeze.—Marietta Weber, Sutton, N.D.

A: Most pesticide manufacturers recommend their herbicides, insecticides and fungicides not be stored longer than about two years for maximum effectiveness. Liquid pesticides should definitely not be allowed to freeze, and storage conditions of high temperature and high humidity deteriorate products quicker than cool, dry storage. Texas A & M University says most pesticides stored under proper conditions will remain effective for between two and five years. Signs that products are no longer useable include clumping or curdling when mixing with water, rather than smoothly blending. It's a good idea to write the date purchased on product labels.

If you have a gardening or lawn care question, email Don Kinzler at ForumGrowingTogether@hotmail.com. All questions will be answered, and those with broad appeal may be published, so please include your name, city and state for appropriate advice.

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