Pruning Lilacs & Disinfecting Tomato Cages

Question:

 I haven't had any luck finding out how to prune lavender lilac. I've always taken the old or dead wood off, but I need to find out how to get longer stems with the more abundant blooms?

Answer:

  • Lilacs are not that difficult to prune, and they don't require any unique technique, as they are pruned to shape.
    • I would stand back and eyeball the plant to see what needs to be done. It is very subjective, and they're pruned in the spring after flowering. Lilacs bloom on the current year's growth. 
  •  Pruning and the time of the year it's done shouldn't have any effect on the stem length or the size of the blooms. These are genetic characteristics.
  • Those plants propagated from another plant part will be identical to the parent. Those started from seeds will not. So. long stems and larger flower clusters may not be in this plant future if the original plant didn't have them to start with.
  • To encourage the growth, feed after pruning with an all-purpose organic fertilizer, and then see what develops next spring, as there isn't much else you can do.

Question:

How would I go about cleaning or disinfecting my Tomato Cages from previous years? I want to do this before placing them around my new plants. Can tomato diseases or the 'virus' be on them?  

Answer:

  • I don't believe you should be overly concerned about any plant diseases that might carry over from year to year or the virus.
  • The surface of metal or painted tomato cages is quite sterile, so it's doubtful the right environment exists for any problems. With wooden supports or if there is organic debris still on the cages, there might be issues.
  • Early and Late Blight are the primary diseases you're looking to prevent. Cool to mild temperatures and wet conditions create the right condition for these diseases. The last time this could have been a problem was in 2010.
  • That being said, it certainly would not hurt to disinfect your cages along with any plastic and or wooden containers. You'll need to remove any of the leftover debris from last year, as the Blights requires visible plant residue to over-winter.
  • Next, wipe the supports down with a mixture of water and household bleach. The ratio for this simple disinfectant is nine parts water to one part bleach. You also could apply the solution with a pump spray bottle and then wash it off.
  • The disinfectant should be dripping off the cages. Since your using bleach, it's recommended that you wear old clothes and gloves. The cages should then be left to air dry in the afternoon sun, overnight. 'Clorox Disinfecting Wipes' can be used for those cages already in place.
  • And finally, a thick layer of mulch can prevent the fungal spores from splashing on the plants. With tomatoes, we don't have to worry about planting them too deep as it recommended to plant them so. They will produce roots off the buried portion of the plant.