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HOW CAN I KILL CRABCRASS? CAN I BLANCH CORN IN DISHWASHER? AGENTS HEAR IT ALL

If you talk to a Utah gardener, you might hear about crabgrass. Morning glory is another good possibility.

These lawn weeds topped the list of the most frequently asked questions USU County Extension agents and specialists receive over the course of a year, according to a survey.The survey yielded 200 commonly asked questions. Of this number, 26 percent of the queries centered on yards and gardening.

Besides questions on how to control morning glory and crabgrass, extension agents say they are also frequently asked about dead spots in lawns.

Why after repeatedly watering and fertilizing do these spots persist? Clyde Hurst, USU extension agent in Sevier County, blamed billbugs.

Tomatoes are another hot topic among Utah callers. No one seems to care if they are fruits or vegetables, but they do care if they aren't turning red or if they are turning brown at the bottom.

Bugs and bats are also popular topics. In this category, questions about box elder bug are most frequently posed. Callers are always asking how to get rid of them, agents report. Cutting down your box elder trees is one of the best solutions. But, according to Jay Karren, USU Extension entomologist, other less drastic measures are also available.

And then there are the sticky questions.

What are those small (green, black, white) bugs that are on my (apple, cherry, various ornamentals)? Why are they making the leaves curl and get all sticky? They're aphids, said Diane Alston, USU Extension entomologist.

Answering questions is part of the daily routine of the county agent - faculty members of USU who have offices in every county. And while there is no such thing as a dumb question, they do admit they regularly receive many "interesting" or "unusual" inquiries.

One person called, for example, to ask the difference between a zucchini and a pumpkin. Someone else wanted to know if she could blanch her corn on the cob in the dishwasher.

And here's a question worth pondering: "Since plants give off carbon dioxide at night, is it safe to have a plant by my bed?" One caller asked, "How can I kill my neighbor's trees without them knowing?"

Not knowing Utah's climate can also be risky for trees - and other living things. A man who recently moved to Utah from California called and asked if you need water to grow crops here.

The answer, of course, is yes - unless you're raising crabgrass or morning glory.