Gardening Q and A

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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Seeding – Topsoil

Q: We are planning to seed our all clay backyard with fescue and know that we will have to add topsoil. Do we need to break up the clay before we add topsoil? Is two inches of topsoil enough to...

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Azalea – Stem growth

Q: A friend’s azalea plant has an odd growth on one of the stems. Should the growth be cut off? A: It looks like someone sprayed Roundup too close to the plant. I got a bit reckless with Roundup near...

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Rain barrels – Pump

Q: How would I use a pump on my rain barrels to send water to a sprinkler? I have two barrels at the basement level but want to send it higher to the yard and shrubs in the front. A:...

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Rescued tomatoes – Ripening

Q: Now that I have rescued my large green tomatoes from the coming frost, what now? How do I ensure that they will continue to ripen? A: If a tomato has just a bit of pink showing on the blossom...

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Crapemyrtle – Pruning

Q: A couple of weeks ago you recommended tree-form crape myrtles for low maintenance. Everyone I know complains long and loud about the annual pruning of crape myrtles. Do you advocate not pruning them? A: You are correct. I advocate...

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Japanses maple – Seed pods

Q: I have seed pods on my laceleaf Japanese maple. How do I harvest and grow them? A: Unlike, say, bean seed, Japanese maple seed germinate sporadically over a two year period. Also unlike vegetable seed, maple seed require three...

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Asparagus – Red berries

Q: Some of my asparagus plants has red berries on them. What do I have? Can the berries be used like seed? A: The red berries contain asparagus seed. You can collect them as they turn red each fall and...

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Magnolia and fir – Feeding requirements

Q: We have several large magnolias and fir trees in our back yard. What are the feeding requirements for them? A: If the trees are large and established, they need little feeding, particularly if they are growing near a fertilized...

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Clay pot seedling – Outdoor survival

Q: Last April we bought a seedling from the Angel Oak on St John’s Island, SC. It is planted in a clay pot and has tripled in size. If I plant it outdoors, will it survive? A: As soon as...

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Watering device – Making at home

Q: I saw a clever slow watering device called “The Plant Nanny” at a shop in South Carolina. Could I make something like it myself? A: The Plant Nanny is a hollow ceramic spike you insert into houseplant soil. When...

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Tree sprouting – Transplanting

Q: Each year, a fast-growing tree sprouts up next to the paved walkway in my backyard and each year I cut it down. I would love to transplant it. Since I’ve continuously cut the tree down to almost nothing every...

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Persimmon tree – Companion tree effects

Q: I have a native persimmon tree at my home and my Golden Retrievers love the fruit. I noticed recently there wasn’t any fruit on it this year. I had a gnarly companion tree cut down this spring and was...

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September bulbs – Early rising

Q: I planted bulbs in September and they are coming up already: way too early! Should I be concerned about this? A: The bulbs won’t be hurt at all; they will flower normally in spring. Early emergence does use resources...

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Camellias – Close planting

Q: I recently purchased several camellias. Each of the camellias seemed to have two trunks. I investigated and was able to separate the tangled roots into two plants. Is it OK to have them planted so close together? A: This...

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