“Groundwork” column for Sept. 6, 2013

Geckos and figs and tomatoes, oh my! Here’s what the LSU AgCenter expert has to say about all that and more.

What’s with all these geckos running around outside everywhere at night?

The commonly seen Mediterranean gecko with its ringed tail and 4- to 5-inch body are great for organic pest control. They are nocturnal and are attracted to the bugs that fly around outside lights and around windows and doors that light shines through. No control is required.

I have a twin-trunked river birch tree by my walkway. If I cut one of the trunks that is hanging over the house and leave the other one, will it kill the tree?

From a tree health perspective, no. Cutting one of the two trunks will not kill the remaining standing tree. The cut surface will decay over time and there is nothing you can or should do about this — it is natural and expected.

My mother would like to know if you can tell her anything about Goliath tomatoes, and if LSU sells plants or seeds? Can you recommend other tomatoes which may do well? Recently someone told her she can plant tomatoes again in mid-September. Is this correct?

Transplant fall tomatoes during July. The heat-set varieties that have produced well in trials are Sun Leaper, Florida 91, Sun Master, Solar Fire, Sun Chaser, Phoenix, Solar Set and Heat Wave II. Also worth trying during fall is BHN 216. Goliath is not mentioned as this variety is grown only during spring and sold at hardware stores and some garden center outlets.

There are plenty of large figs on our 3-year-old LSU Purple fig tree this year, but some of them have a bitter or sour taste and a golden-colored inside. Any idea about what the problem could be? I’ve noticed tiny brown bugs on some of them.

The figs that soured and have insects were either injured or developed a natural opening to allow entrance. Dry/wet periods and also excessive rainfall/irrigation likely exacerbated the problem. Nothing you could have done would have prevented this from happening.

Got a gardening question? Write to Bob Souvestre, horticulturist with the LSU AgCenter, at Burden Center, 4560 Essen Lane, Baton Rouge, LA 70809, or email to bsouvestre@agcenter.lsu.edu, or call Master Gardeners at (225) 763-3990.