Gardening Q and A

Meat – Composting

Q: Why can’t I put meat in my compost pile? A: You can…but it’s not really practical. Rats, possums, and raccoons will be attracted to the pile and they will make a mess. Smell is also an issue. On the...

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Homemade Mosquito Repellent – Useless

Q: Why don’t you tell folks about the mosquito-repelling recipe using beer, mouthwash and Epsom salts? A: I don’t recommend the recipe because it doesn’t work. Mosquito repellents work by blocking the insect’s “smell” sensors. The materials you list are...

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Drip Irrigation for Vegetable Garden

Q: I have a vegetable garden consisting of tomatoes, peppers and eggplant. The soil is mostly clay. I use a drip irrigation system and was wondering what rate of water you would recommend? A: This is hard to answer because...

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Killing Yucca Plants

Q: I have a few yucca plants in my yard I want to get rid of. I need your expertise on how to kill them. A: My expertise is that it’s really hard to kill a yucca! I got rid...

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Deer – Ultrasonic Repellers Useless

Q: Is there a product that repels deer with ultrasonic sound? A: Ultrasonic repellers are ineffective at detering deer, rats, squirrels and mosquitoes. The University of Vermont says: “Deer quickly become used to stationary objects and sounds. If ultrasonic or...

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Crapemyrtle – Fragrant

Q: You claim crapemyrtles are not fragrant. I have to disagree! I planted several in my garden and I was surprised when I discovered the crapemyrtles were the most heavenly fragrant plant I have! A: I wish you were right...

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Sunflowers-When They Bloom

Q: We are planning an outside wedding for this October. The bride wants sunflowers, and we need to know what type of sunflowers to plant that will bloom during September into October. A: It’s really tough to predict the planned...

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Figs-Are They Ripe?

Q: I’m not sure how to determine when figs are ripe. What’s a rule of thumb? A: Brown figs, like ‘Celeste’ and ‘Brown Turkey’ are ripe when the fruit turns from yellow to brown. The skin will have little cracks...

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Garlic Chives – Killing

Q: Many years ago in a momentary lapse of reason I planted garlic chives in my herb garden. Now I am finding garlic chives popping up all over my new landscape and they are no longer welcome. What can I...

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Wheat Plants on Lawn

Q: I recently had a landscape company seed my yard with centipede grass. They scattered wheat straw over it. Now I have a yard of wheat plants rather than centipede grass. A: It’s time to mow the wheat low to...

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Azaleas-Blooming Times

Q: I have an azalea bed with at least four different varieties of azaleas. For the past two years, the azaleas all bloomed at different times. Is there any way I can get them to bloom at the same time?...

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Peonies-Thrips

Q: My peony plants flower for about a week before something causes the flower buds to not open any more. They are showing some browning around the edges. A: It sounds like a thrips problem. Thrips are tiny insects that...

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Pine Shavings – Don’t Make Soil Acid

Q: I have access to pine shavings with no manure. I want to use it in my rose garden for weed control but I am worried it will change the soil pH. A: Contrary to popular belief, pine chips, pine...

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Aerating Zoysia Grass

Q: When should I aerate my zoysia grass every year? A: You should aerate when the soil is so hard that air can’t get to roots and the roots can’t expand. How to test? A few days after a rain...

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Growing Ginger

Q: Will ginger grow in Decatur? A: Ginger lily (butterfly ginger), Hedychium coronarium, is a beautiful, fragrant perennial that graces many Southern gardens. It’s usually winter-hardy if covered lightly with mulch. This plant is not the same as edible ginger,...

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Garden Books Donation

Q: I am looking for a place to donate a bunch of gardening books. Is a library my only option? A: If you think some of your books might be valuable, submit a list of titles and authors to the...

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Transport Cuttings

Q: I’d like to take a few camellia cuttings from the West Coast back home with me and root them. What is your advice for their safe transport by plane? A: Take several ten-inch cuttings from the plant. Strip off...

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Corn-Crow Problem

Q: My wife and I spend the winter in Georgia but live in Virginia for the summer, where I plant a large garden. Last year I planted 1700 corn kernels but only 17 came up. I dug into several hills...

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