Fielding Questions: Investigating holes in jade plant leaves

A common complaint with hedges is that the lower part eventually becomes bare and leggy.Hedges will retain their lower foliage better if they are trimmed in an upward-slanting fashion so the lower branches are slightly wider, tapering as you go up. All questions will be answered, and those with broad appeal may be published, so please include your name, city and state for appropriate advice. Jade plants like to dry thoroughly between waterings, especially in winter.Sometimes the soil itself is the culprit, if it holds moisture too long. The best time to begin this shape-training is when the hedge is young or freshly rejuvenated.If you visit the extensive hedge collection at the University of Minnesota’s Landscape Arboretum at Chaska, Minn., you’ll notice that almost all of the dozens of shrub species growing as hedges are trimmed in the wider-at-the-base fashion.Q: I plan to build two three-feet by three-feet   elevated boxes this spring for gardening. Soil mix should be filled almost to the top of gardening boxes. Many leaf problems with jade plants can be traced to moisture troubles.Sometimes the problems are caused by watering too frequently. The Environmental Protection Agency disallowed these compounds, and today’s treated lumber can safely be used.If the gardening boxes are to be freestanding, raised off the ground on legs and built with wooden bottoms, then drainage holes are necessary. Maintaining this shape, where the base is wider than the top allows the lower branches to receive sunlight. Can I cut back our cotoneaster hedge to about a foot high in early spring too? Could you offer an opinion?—Margaret Dahl, Battle Lake, Minn.A: Jade plants aren’t overly insect prone. If desired, landscape fabric can be placed on the ground inside the box before filling with soil mix.The minimum depth for gardening boxes is usually considered six inches. Bacteria or fungi then entered the wounds and caused them to darken and fester, making the spots noticeable this winter.Unfortunately, damaged leaves don’t return to normal. It’s usually best to remove the damaged leaves to encourage new leaves to form and to reduce a source of contamination.Q: We have a cotoneaster hedge that has grown too wide over the past few years. Doyou drill small holes in the bottom for drainage?—David Schroeder, Moorhead.A: Raised gardening has become a successful trend, and last week we investigated the preferred soil mix. 1 / 2Many leaf problems with jade plants can be traced to moisture troubles. Wooden boxes that are placed directly on the ground are usually constructed without bottoms. Jade plants like a cactus-type soil that drains very quickly and doesn’t stay soggy. This helps them retain healthy foliage, rather than being shaded by the higher hedge branches.An easy way to picture the preferred hedge shape is by visualizing a flat-topped pyramid. How deep should the boxes be and how deep should I make the soil? The brown sunken spots and holes on several of the leaves are probably caused by these organisms. They might have first entered the leaves through small damages from an insect that tasted the leaves while the plant was outdoors. The mix will settle after watering, leaving about one-inch of preferred “headspace.”If you have a gardening or lawn care question, email Don Kinzler at The previously available green-treated lumber contained toxic compounds that could leach into garden soil. I was going to do it last fall, but didn’t get it done.—Jerry Anderson, Dilworth, Minn.A: Yes, spring is a great time to rejuvenate a cotoneaster hedge that might have grown too wide, or that has become leggy and bare at the bottom. Rejuvenation is also a great opportunity to develop the hedge into the preferred shape that is recommended for healthiest hedge growth. Special to The Forum2 / 2Q: I have a large jade plant that sits outside during summer and early fall andindoors the rest of the year. Gardeners can also choose 8, 10 or 12-inch lumber to build deeper boxes that are good choices if growing root vegetables like carrots, parsnips or potatoes. Sometimes they’ll attract white cottony mealybugs, but those are easily noticed. Once leaves have holes or spots, they don’t heal enough to revert to unblemished. Cutting it down to 6-12 inches will encourage the hedge to branch freshly from the base. Soil high in aggregate like sand or perlite gives good drainage and aeration.Overly moist conditions can enable bacteria and fungi to thrive, causing root rot and leaf diseases. It has developed some holes in leaves near the

bottom; they look like they might be from something boring through them. I noticed your article recommending pruning in early spring for bushes and shrubs. Pruning in March or early April before it leafs out is preferred over fall pruning.After this rejuvenation, it’ll be easier to control the height and width of the hedge. Wood for construction can be rot-resistant cedar or brown-treated lumber, which are both safe for vegetable gardening.
Don Kinzler, gardening columnist

Minding Our Elders: Evidence of dementia clear to neighbor but adult children in denial

Either way, she needs to see a doctor. She could be forgetting that she hasn’t eaten or she may not want to bother. I don’t think she’d resist a change if her kids would encourage her. Photograph of author Carol Bursack of Minding Our Elders by Ann Arbor Miller, No one should become upset over a dish of food pushed to the back that has gotten old, but if there is a lot of moldy or past dated food, that could be a concern.If she’s lost too much weight, she may not be eating properly. FCDear FC: You are a good friend to care so much and your ideas are excellent ways to evaluate someone for possible dementia, especially since they don’t just test memory but they show whether or not your friend can follow through with a simple plan that would be used in daily living.In addition to your own ideas, I would suggest that they look into how their mom is doing with paying her bills. She forgets what day it is, what groceries she needs and she seems terribly confused when she has to plan anything. Even without a potential dementia issue, it may be time for her to appoint someone to keep an eye on her financial life.Checking for bad food in the fridge is an often recommended test. Photograph was taken on Jan. She can be reached at Your friend shouldn’t be held to rigorous standards, but if there is old garbage around, or the house has hazardous messes, those are issues that could indicate dementia or depression, or both.The adult children are likely falling for the cheeriness that their mom displays when she sees them. Sometimes she seems frightened because of her confusion. At least you will have tried.The problem could be something as easy to fix as a medication change since some medications can cause confusion and/or memory problems. I’ve contacted her grown children who live out of town to let them know what I see, but when they come to visit she perks up and seems fine so they think I’m just the nosey neighbor. Older people don’t necessarily need a daily bath or shower since their skin tends to be dry, but they should still sponge bathe daily and take a full bath or shower every few days. 18, 2011, in Fargo, N.D.Dear Carol: I’m certain that my 76-year-old neighbor, a good friend of mine, has dementia. Both are common and often related.However, if you stress their mom’s fear and confusion rather than memory lapses they many listen. What else can I do to convince the adult children that their mom needs help? I’ve suggested that they ask her to bake something where she has to follow a recipe or give her a list of a few things to get at the store and see if she can follow through. If their mom is lacking good, basic hygiene, this could be a sign of dementia or depression, either of which needs attention.Housecleaning can fall off as people age because of arthritic pain, eyes that aren’t as keen, or simply not caring that much. Ask them to accompany her to the doctor for a professional opinion. Additionally, regular hygiene is also something to be checked. This includes over-the-counter medications. Of course, she could have developed dementia. That way they’d have some reference points.I’ve also told them that I feel that she’d feel safer in an assisted living environment, or at least with in-home caregivers. You can offer to make a list of worrisome issues that you observe which they may or may not accept. They also may be in denial. Bringing your concerns to the family’s attention may be the best that you can do for now.Carol Bradley Bursack is the author of a support book on caregiving and runs a website supporting caregivers at

Growing Together: It’s time for a gardening quiz

Readers can reach him at also blogs at ” target=”_blank”> It’s long been recommended to avoid mechanically softened water for houseplants because it can cause damaging salt accumulations in the soil. Although they can be kept green and growing, the surest way to trigger rebloom is to cease watering, let the plant dry down and remain dormant for eight weeks. Small plants can flounder in a pot that’s too large and be more susceptible to overwatering and rot. February is too early, which increases the risk of plants becoming too tall, weak and spindly indoors.• The northern portion of the tristate region is in zone 3 and the remainder is zone 4, which can be viewed on hardiness zone maps.• Amaryllis bulbs are fairly easy to rebloom. Osmocote slow-release fertilizer recharges the nutrient content of potting soil, giving outdoor container plants a continuous fertilizer supply. Most students didn’t seem to enjoy exams quite as much as teachers enjoyed giving them. 3 / 3Remember when teachers told us tests were wonderful learning opportunities and quizzes were valuable ways to assess our knowledge? It’s better to repot gradually into a slightly larger container with an extra inch or two of space around the root ball.• No. Overwatering means keeping a plant continually too soggy.• The crown of a perennial is at soil level where underground roots meet above ground stems.• Probably not, but they might find gardening therapeutic.Don Kinzler, a lifelong gardener, worked as an NDSU Extension horticulturist and owned Kinzler’s Greenhouse in Fargo. Compared to questions about supply-side economics or Newton’s laws of physics, gardening quizzes are fun and refreshing.Don’t bother cheating by looking up previously published quizzes; today’s questions are fresh and can be answered in a few words.Oh, and keep your eyes on your own paper.Questions• If a tomato is listed as 70 days to maturity, is the number calculated from the date of seeding, or from the date of transplanting into the garden?• To give a small new houseplant in a three-inch diameter pot plenty of room to grow, is it a good idea to transplant it into a large ten-inch diameter pot?• If a home has a water softener, is this softened water beneficial for houseplants?• Can Osmocote slow-release fertilizer be added to outdoor planters whose potting soil is being reused for an additional year instead of replacing with fresh soil?• What does it mean if a vegetable is “direct seeded”?• Is it better to seed tomatoes indoors in late February or late March?• North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota are located within what two United States Department of Agriculture Hardiness Zones?• Will amaryllis bulbs flower again, or are they one-time bloomers?• Can you see spider mites with the naked eye?• What term is used to describe a pesticide that is taken up internally by a plant, protecting it from the inside out as insects feed?• What is the largest killer of houseplants: diseases, insects or overwatering?• What does it mean to leach a houseplant?• Are the terms “potbound” and “rootbound” synonyms?• Two basic types of tree and shrub leaf arrangement along stems are termed “alternate” and “opposite.” Which one describes leaves that are located directly across from each other on the stem?• Does overwatering a houseplant mean you apply too much at one time?• Is the crown of a perennial at the top of flower stems or at the base of the plant?• Is it true the Kardashians spend most of their leisure time tending their vegetable garden?Answers:• Days to maturity for tomatoes, peppers and similar vegetables is from the date of planting “transplants” into the garden, not from the date at which these plants were originally started from seeds. The exact maturity length varies with weather, especially warmth.• No. Shake a leaf against a white sheet of paper and look for tiny, slowly moving specks.• Systemic products are taken up by plants internally.• By far the greatest killer of houseplants is overwatering.• Leaching a houseplant means watering until a generous amount drains out, then immediately repeating several times to rinse salt accumulations from potting soil.• Potbound and rootbound both describe a plant’s soil ball that is almost completely circled and filled with roots.• When leaves are directly across from each other on a stem it’s called opposite leaf arrangement.• No. Then resume watering.• Spider mites are difficult to see without a magnifying glass. Hopefully a non-softened water spigot was installed. Rainwater or melted snow water are good alternatives.• Yes. It helps gardeners re-use high-quality soil in containers for multiple years.• If vegetables are direct-seeded, it means seeds are planted into garden soil instead of using transplants.• To start tomato plants indoors, seed is best planted in late March or early April.
Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor2 / 3Don Kinzler, gardening columnist Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor1 / 3Garden quizzes are fun ways to discuss plant care. Today's quiz helps determine the best pot size for young houseplants.

Phillips: Kindness reminds us there are good people in the world

We are single gals in our young 60s uniting together to get out and have fun. Nicole Phillips, Kindness is Contagious columnistWhen I was in kindergarten, we had a whole lesson about what to do when you find a lost wallet. In our little plays, we got to peek inside the wallet. I was at Barnes & Noble when I got a text that everyone was waiting for me at the movie theatre. We have become a good support system for each other. I’m tempted to buy a board to promote serenity as I’m scrambling around to keep my schedule!Another bit of info: I, along with most of the friends I was meeting, am a widow. You can visit Nicole at ” target=”_blank”> Would it be okay to take a little for ourselves? Or send a letter to Kindness is Contagious c/o Nicole J. Her column runs every Saturday. N., Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107.Nicole J. I hope that ‘someone’ reads this story and accepts my sincere thanks. We acted out make-believe scenarios in which one of us would be the person who drops the wallet, one would be the person who finds it and another would be the officer at the police station. We always took it straight to the police station. Some lost their husbands to long ordeals like cancer and MS whereas my husband died suddenly to a brain hemorrhage. Nicole is married to Ohio University’s men’s head basketball coach Saul Phillips. We are all dealing with a change in our life that we didn’t expect and weren’t prepared for but find comfort in doing things together.”The kindness of a stranger not only allowed Julie to make it to the movie, but it also allowed her to share in the kindness of friendship.Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at I quickly took off and connected with my friends, but when I dug in my purse for my wallet, it wasn’t there. She is a writer, speaker and mother of three kids. Sometimes the temptation to play Finder’s Keepers takes over.A reader named Julie saw the good win out and she wanted to share her story in hopes of thanking the person who did the right thing.”Hi Nicole,I was having a busy afternoon driving around Fargo doing errands before meeting up with friends to see a Friday night movie. Looking at that colorful monopoly money would make our fingers tingle. I was so relieved to get my wallet returned fully intact! I had a panicky feeling, but decided it must have fallen out in my car.After I searched my car with no luck, I concluded that it had to be at the bookstore. I drove back there hoping an employee had picked it up. Funny, we never talked about taking it to the front counter of a store or leaving at the reception desk. Ironic isn’t it? But we all know, that’s not always the case. My credit cards, driver’s license and about $50 in cash were missing. You find something that belongs to someone else and you return it to them. All the money needs to go back to the owner.Thinking back on that lesson of integrity, it just seems so simple. Phillips is a former television anchor for Fox News in Fargo. No, our teacher would gently remind us. Phillips, The Forum, 101 5th St. When I asked if there was a lost and found, the employee asked if my name was Julie. There are good people in this community and often we don’t get the opportunity to thank them personally.By the way, after all the dashing around, I was able to get seated with my friends during the last preview in time to see La La Land, the perfect movie to destress after my ordeal!The funny thing is, I was in the checkout line at Barnes and Noble with a Buddha Board, which is a serenity board based on the Zen concept of living in the moment. When I got the text that my friends were waiting for me, I put the board back and rushed out of the store! When I inquired as to where it was found, he responded that someone found it laying in the parking lot and made the assumption that a shopper from Barnes & Noble had dropped it and brought it in for safekeeping.