Okra tastes best when picked young. You can prune plants to keep the pods within reach CONTRIBUTED BY WALTER REEVES

Prune okra for late summer harvest

Q: In last year’s garden the okra did well but grew way too tall. Can it be pruned to keep it lower and still produce well? Kevin B., Hart County

A: You sure can! As our common okra varieties grow in summer, the top of the plant becomes too tall to reach and doesn’t produce as many pods. When they are too tall to harvest, cut your plants down to a height between 12 and 24 inches. Make the cut above two healthy leaves. In a week or two you’ll see one or two strongly growing sprouts coming from the stump. The new branch or branches will have almost as many tasty pods as the plant yielded in early summer.

Q: Do you have any suggestions on how to get rid of millipedes? J. H. Berry, email

A: The first step is to change the environment in which they thrive. Try to eliminate the moist areas where their eggs overwinter to reduce their initial population. Rake out all of the mulch under plants near the house and replace it with fresh material. Keep your lawn mowed often so the thatch doesn’t become sodden. Fortunately, millipedes are not harmful – only a nuisance. If all else fails, select a landscape insecticide and spray a 2-foot wide strip on all sides of your patio, steps, walkway, etc. Also spray the mulch under shrubs near the house. Dry weather usually causes a precipitous decline in numbers … unless your mulch areas are constantly damp from irrigation. There is no need to treat your lawn.

Q: My tomatoes look very healthy but the flowers fall off. John Peebles, Jackson County

A: Hot weather always causes tomato pollination problems, particularly with varieties that have large fruit. Visit your plants once or twice a day and lightly thump the flower clusters with your finger. This will shake pollen loose and you’ll get better pollination.

Q: There is a rezoning proposal for land behind our neighborhood. It will likely be used for parking tractor trailers. The county recommends a 100-foot deep buffer, with a berm, and the planting of Leyland cypress trees fifteen feet on center staggered in two rows. Is this the best plan for noise reduction? Bernie Morrison, Luella

A: Physics tells us that the only way to reduce sound is to put physical mass of some sort between the source and your ears. The proposed berm will absorb and reflect truck sounds if built properly. Trees and shrubs planted between the parking area and your neighborhood will do more to reduce the perception of sound, since you can’t actually see the trucks. Consider mixing ‘Burford’ holly and ‘Green Giant’ arborvitae with the Leylands to add visual variety. In addition, hiring a sound reduction consultant might be money well spent.

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Listen to Walter Reeves Saturday mornings on News 95.5 FM and AM750 WSB. Visit his website, www.walterreeves.com, follow him on Twitter @walterreeves, on Pinterest, or join his Facebook Fan Page at bit.ly/georgiagardener for more garden tips.

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