Gardening columnist Tim Daly answers the following questions from readers:
Question: I found a large flying insect on my patio. It appears to be quite large, over an inch, and resembles one of those murder hornets that the news covers. How can I find out if the insect is indeed a murder hornet? — Chris, Lilburn
Answer: Chris, true murder hornets have been in the news of late. The insects are an invasive species from Asia and can grow quite large. However, the only places in North America where they are present in isolated areas of Washington State.
The wasps can inflict painful stings but seldom cause harm to people. The concern is they attack honeybee nests and can wipe out many bees. No murder hornets have been found in any other parts of the nation, including Georgia.
We have some native hornets and wasps that can grow one to two inches that are sometimes mistaken to be murder hornets, the European hornet, and cicada killer wasps. To learn more about murder hornets and those insects that resemble them, please refer to the following weblink from the Georgia Department of Agriculture at http://www.agr.georgia.gov/invasive-pests.aspx.
Q: I am planning to grow vegetable plants in several five-gallon buckets. The ones of interest to me are beans, peppers, tomatoes, and I am considering corn. Will I be successful with this endeavor? — George, Buford
A: George, you can grow vegetables in containers such as the buckets as you have. Use topsoil and potting soil mixed as the growing medium. Mix in some all-purpose fertilizer such as 10-10-10.
You need to keep the soil moist and check on it periodically since being above ground, and they dry out faster. The vegetables you mentioned will work except the corn. This vegetable grows as much as 12 feet in height and will not do well growing in the five-gallon buckets. You need to have many plants to guarantee cross-pollination.
Corn is best grown in the ground where you have enough room to plant in several rows to get the necessary pollination and ear production.
Q: I have a bermudagrass lawn in my front yard and tall fescue grass in the back. I am confused as to how high I should mow the grass. On the internet, I have found many different recommendations. What are the correct mowing heights for these lawn grasses? — Roy, Dacula
A: Roy, when mowing your lawn, do not cut off more than one-third of the height of the grass blades. Zoysiagrass should be cut at the height of one to one and one-half inches. Hybrid bermudagrass prefers a half-inch height to one-half inches, while common bermudagrass should be cut one to two inches.
Centipedegrass should be maintained at one to one and one-half inches, while St. Augustinegrass and tall fescue need to be cut at two to three inches. The white coloring you are noticing after mowing is caused by using a dull mower blade. It shreds the tops of the grass blades causing the off-color and making the grass more susceptible to diseases. Periodically sharpen the blade or replace it to ensure the grass is mowed correctly.