Gardening Q and A

Chlorine soaked leaves – Compost bin

Q: Is it OK to place chlorine-soaked leaves from our swimming pool into our compost bin? A: Yes, there is not enough chlorine on the leaves to hurt the composting...

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Solarizing soil – Eliminate pupae

Q: I had a horrible time with squash vine borers this year. Will solarizing my soil this winter (clear plastic covering for 6-8 weeks) help eliminate the pupae for next year? A: Solarizing in winter won’t heat the soil enough...

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Water conditions – Aerate soil

Q: I usually aerate and overseed my fescue lawn in the fall. With the current watering restrictions, is this still something I can do? A: Current water regulations allow you to water every other day. But for best germination, fescue...

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Thorny plants – Crime deterrent

Q: What are some of the best thorny plants to grow under windows as a crime deterrent? The house gets full to part sun on all sides. A: Chinese holly, barberry, shrub rose (Knockout, Nearly Wild or rugosa), pyracantha, mahonia,...

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Identifying – Bird at feeder

Q: I need help identifying a bird I have at my feeder. It looks like a cardinal except for the head, which appears to be devoid of feathers! It has normal red body feathers and a head with no crest....

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First garden – Pesticides

Q: This is our first time planting a garden. We would like to protect the garden with natural pesticides. Do you know if there is an effective organic pesticide that can be used? A: The best way to protect a...

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Termites – Company investigation

Q: We just moved to Georgia and bought a split level home on concrete slab. We had to have a termite letter on day of closing. The inspector cleared us but later termites were found. Will the state investigate the...

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Tree replacing – Berries smell

Q: I want to replace a tree that we had to cut down with a ginkgo. I have heard that either the male or female variety has berries and smells bad A: Female ginkgo trees produce primitive seeds covered by...

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Ceramic pot – Fountain

Q: I have a big ceramic pot that I have made into a fountain. What do I need to do for winter? Is it okay to just keep pumping? A: For most outdoor fountains, it’s best to turn it off...

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Boston fern – Naming

Q: I was winterizing my wife’s Boston ferns and became puzzled. How did a fern that will not survive the weather outdoors in Boston become named after that city? Or was it named after someone named Boston? A: Boston fern,...

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Cactus – Bug spray

Q: I have a cactus in a pot that I will plant in the spring. What do I spray it with before I bring it into the house for the winter to make sure I am not bringing in bugs?...

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School garden – Rain barrels

Q: My daughter’s school is trying to establish a community garden. Are rain barrels an option for a school building? A: Rain barrels are perfectly suited for a school once you get permission to cut into the gutters or drain...

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Crapemyrtle – Height

Q: Are there any crape myrtles that grow no taller than 6 or 7 feet? We are landscaping under power lines but don’t want to commit “crape murder” every year. A: ‘Acoma’ (white), ‘Hopi’ (pink) or ‘Tonto’ (red) crapemyrtles would...

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Garden pest – Guide

Q: I’m searching for a good garden pest management guide, preferably one that includes pictures of the pests and organic pesticides. A: Rodale’s Pest and Disease Problem Solver is quite good. I’m glad you are interested in identifying the insect...

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Beautyberry – Poisonous

Q: Are the berries of the American beautyberry poisonous? Should I plant it in an area restricted from small children? A: I can’t find any mention of them being poisonous. Birds certainly enjoy them each fall. There is a long...

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Burlapped ‘Allee’ Elm – Recovery

Q: We bought a healthy looking balled and burlapped ‘Allee’ Elm from a tree farm. After about two days in the ground the leaves started to wrinkle and turn brown. Do you think it will recover by next spring? A:...

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Golf course – Tree planting

Q: I volunteer for a disc golf course. We would like to plant some trees in the park’s big open fields, a former cow pasture with red clay soil. What trees do well in that environment? A: I think some...

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Neem trees – Growth areas

Q: I grew up in Gujarat, India, where I played among the surrounding neem trees. They had many uses: a leaf tea comforted rashes, twigs were used for cleaning teeth, smoke from the leaves kept mosquitoes and bugs away. I...

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