Gardening Q and A

Pine Tree – Burning in a Fireplace

Q: My tree surgeon said pine was OK to burn in a fireplace. He said if it dries for a year in hot sun it will be fine. A: He’s right. It is a misconception that pine wood forms more...

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Composting Kitchen Scraps

Q: We are interested in composting kitchen scraps. Do the tumble composters that claim to make compost in 14 days really work? A: In my opinion they are not very useful. In winter, the tumbler cools off too much to...

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How to Calculat the Amount of Water Coming Off of a Roof

Q: How do I calculate the amount of water coming off of a roof? A: The amount of water collected by a roof is easy to calculate. Multiply the length times the width to get the area. Multiply this result...

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‘Drake’ Elm – Peeling Bark

Q: I have two eight-year-old ‘Drake’ elms. Their bark is splitting and peeling on the main trunk. Is it normal for these trees to shed bark like sycamore and crapemyrtle? A: It’s normal. ‘Drake’ elm is a very attractive Chinese...

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Leave Dcomposition – How to Speed it Up

Q: We have an abundance of hardwoods on five acres. We blow leaves off the driveways 2-3 hours every day into a temporary area but after December 15th we’ll have to move the piles again. Is there something we can...

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Oleander Plants – How to Grow

Q: I have two oleander plants I purchased in Florida a few years ago. Each winter they are killed by sub-freezing temperatures. They come back from the ground but bloom late in summer. What is the secret to growing oleander...

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Radishes – Not Growing Bulbs

Q: A friend of mine has radishes that are not forming bulbs, only straight roots. He is planting them like he’s always done. Any ideas? A: The most likely reasons are too much fertilizer or too much shade. My bet...

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Trumpet Vine – Removing Left Behind Vines

Q: What is the best way to remove the left-behinds from a trumpet vine that once grew on my stucco? I’ve tried brushing with a wire brush, which surprisingly doesn’t ruin the stucco, but also isn’t very effective A: There...

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Private Pesticide Applicator Training Classes

Q: I am looking for the schedule for private pesticide applicator training. Where can I take it? A: By law, a homeowner desiring to buy or apply restricted use pesticides on their own property must take a pesticide applicator training...

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Moist Soil – How to Determine if Soil is ‘Moist Enough’

Q: I can’t find a definition for what moist soil is. When I see a plant description that says it requires moist soil, what exactly does that mean? A: “Moist soil” is as undefinable as “It’s too cold in this...

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Cannas – Transplanting

Q: I have cannas near my window that are tall and unsightly. Can I transplant them now without harming their blooming next summer? A: October is a great time to dig and transplant canna roots. Cut off the stalks at...

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Moss – How to Grow

Q: We recently put in a koi pond and want to grow moss on some of the stones. If you pour milk on the rocks, will moss grow? A: Some folks have reported success at growing moss on stones by...

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Bird Nests – Keep or Throw Away

Q: I have 4 ferns hanging on my front porch that all have bird’s nests in them. When the ferns die and get thrown away what can I do with the bird’s nests? A: It’s not legal to possess bird...

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Mulch – Grass Clippings with Weed Killer on Them

Q: I have been told not to use grass clippings sprayed with weed killer to mulch around plants. Can I use them after they sit in a compost pile? A: Some plants, particularly tomatoes and young flower sprouts, are extremely...

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Ficus Tree – Ants in the Dirt

Q: I have a ficus tree in my office that is doing very well. When I watered it I noticed a gazillion ants in the dirt. Will this hurt the ficus? A: The ants may be finding aphids or mealybugs...

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Gladiolus – Store or Replant

Q: If I dig up my gladiolus now should I store them until spring or re-plant immediately. A: Gladiolus corms (bulbs) are usually winter-hardy if left in the ground but it’s a good idea to dig them up every couple...

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Mexican Petunia – Pruning

Q: My Mexican petunia is huge and needs to be cut back for the winter. Do I cut it flat to the ground? A: Yes, ruellia will freeze to the ground naturally after the first frost. You can clip stems...

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Pest Insects – Cold Enough to Kill?

Q: Has it been cold enough, long enough, this winter to kill the larvae of ants, fleas, ticks and mosquitoes? A: Whenever we have a cold winter, gardeners wishfully hope that the frigid temperatures will diminish the insects they’ll face...

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