Q: We have a large avocado tree that used to have great fruit but now, as the trees in our tract have gotten bigger, we have squirrels that seem to delight in taking bites out of many of the avocados.
Is it safe to use these avocados if we cut around the bite marks?
Is there something we can put in the tree to scare them away or keep them out of the tree?
A: To answer your first question: Yes, it is safe to eat the avocados that have been bitten into if you cut out the damaged parts. Of course, once the fruit has been damaged it will go bad quite quickly.
Terrier dogs, such as the rat terrier or Jack Russell, are very enthusiastic squirrel-chasers. I have a big black cat that likes to chase and kill ground squirrels, but he’s gotten kind of fat and complacent so he’s not as effective as he was in his hungrier days.
You can also try purchasing a big rubber snake to drape across the tree branches. Depending on how observant your local squirrels are, you will want to move it every day or so.
If you decide to go with the rubber snake, please let your family (and gardeners) know about it so you don’t inadvertently cause panic. We’ve had enough of that already this year.
Q: Help! My beautiful 20-year-old lemon tree is looking distraught! It has green fruit ripening, but this summer crop is “squishy,” and some lemons are turning brown.
This has never occurred before. Could it be extreme hot weather, not enough deep watering or something else?
There are no signs of the Asian psyllid, leaf curl, or other typical citrus problems. We also have it professionally maintained every year. We do not want to lose this lovely tree!
A: Since you don’t mention the presence of pest insects, mold, or leaf discoloration, I will assume that there is a non-pest/disease issue here. Fruit drop in citrus can be caused by improper pruning (not likely in your case), irregular watering, or sudden, extreme temperature change.
Even though citrus trees can thrive in hot weather, they don’t react well to extreme heat (especially when a drastic temperature change occurs practically overnight). Pay careful attention to watering and wait until winter to prune away any dead branches. Your tree should bounce back readily.
Q: Can you identify these trees and let me know what might be wrong with them? The middle one in the cluster has not produced any foliage this year. Random branches on the other two are also not producing foliage. They get plenty of water and occasional fertilizer.
A: Your photo shows a cluster of sad-looking birch trees. These are a favorite landscape tree in the north and northeast, but they really don’t like our hot weather. They normally grow in cool, moist areas, which are hard to come by in Southern California. They may grow here for a few years, but they often decline and die within 10 or 15 years in hotter areas.
Have questions? Email [email protected]
Looking for more gardening tips? Here’s how to contact the Master Gardener program in your area.
Los Angeles County
[email protected]; 626-586-1988; http://celosangeles.ucanr.edu/UC_Master_Gardener_Program/
[email protected]; 949-809-9760; http://mgorange.ucanr.edu/
[email protected]; 951-683-6491 ext. 231; https://ucanr.edu/sites/RiversideMG/
San Bernardino County
[email protected]; 909-387-2182; http://mgsb.ucanr.edu/