Gardening: Extreme cold may have killed invasive vines

March 6, 2014 

Q. I have a growth of vines in my backyard. They have turned brown with all the cold weather we have had. A neighbor told me a few years ago that they were invasive weeds. Did this cold weather actually kill them? If not, what should I do? I am hoping that Mother Nature took care of them for me.

-- H. L. of Cahokia

A. The plant you are describing sounds like Hall's Honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica), which is a weedy vine up to 30 feet or longer. This plant is a native of Asia. It was introduced into the United States in 1806 and has been spreading ever since. This plant spreads by seed, underground rhizomes and above-ground runners. There also are some native vining honeysuckles in our area that produce red to orange fruits, but the Japanese honeysuckle produces just black fruits.

It has been determined that Hall's species cannot tolerate severe winter temperatures or dry conditions. But 2012 weather was not dry enough in our area to kill it. But the leaves were killed this year in most of our area. Now we have to wait to see and hope that the root structure was damaged as well.

Only time will tell as our air temperatures begin to warm up. If new leaves do not develop, the plant was killed. But be sure to check the base of the plant or any parts of the vine that are touching the soil for bud development forming new leaves. If you notice any new bud and leaf growth, be ready to spray a herbicide containing glyphosate as the active ingredient. Be careful not to spray this herbicide on other plants. This may take repeated applications during the spring. It may be more effective this spring as the plant is already in a weakened condition.

Q. This spring, I want to plant radishes and turnips again, but I want to harvest the roots. For years I have planted both of these and all I get is greens at the top but no developing, edible roots. What am I doing wrong?

-- K. D. of Fairview Heights

A. You are either planting the seeds too closely together or you are fertilizing with too much nitrogen. Radish seeds should not be planted closer than 2 inches and turnip seed should be at least 5 to 6 inches apart.

Do not use any fertilizer containing nitrogen as nitrogen stimulates the growth of stems and leaves, but does not promote root development.

If you used nitrogen last year in the area of the garden where you want to grow radishes or turnips, plant another vegetable there. Do not use a nitrogen fertilizer on the plants this year. Then plant your radishes and/or turnips for next year in this location,

Charles Giedeman is a local contributing writer. Send your gardening questions to Lifestyle Editor Pat Kuhl, Belleville News-Democrat, P.O. Box 427, 120 S. Illinois St., Belleville, IL 62222-0427. Or email to pkuhl@bnd.com

Do it now

SEEDS: Finalize your orders if you have not already done so.

DIGGING: Be patient in working the soil as it will be wet for quite a while this year. It is better to wait than to compact the soil by working it while it is wet.

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