Gardening Q and A

Outdoor Container Soil – Information

Q: I limit my gardening nowadays to pot gardening mostly. I have been successful with potting soil, but wonder about the “outdoor container soil” you wrote about using for tomatoes in a pot. I’ve never seen container soil locally. A:...

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Spicebush Swallowtail Caterpillar

Q: I was delighted to discover several volunteer sassafras seedlings coming up in my yard a couple of years ago. I checked on the largest one today and noticed it was being devoured by several bright green caterpillars munching on...

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Azaleas – When to Fertilize

Q: I continue to get mixed messages on when I should fertilize my azaleas. I have three of them, planted last spring. When is the right time to feed them? A: It’s best to fertilize after blooms begin to fade...

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Cleome Seed

Q: How does one collect and plant cleome seed? A: The airy pink and white blooms of cleome (also called spider flower) lend grace to the back of flower beds in September and October. The stems average three feet tall,...

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Wood Chips – Around Playset

Q: We are creating a spot in our back yard for a big wooden play set. We are debating whether to put pine chips down for safety. We had some pines taken down so we have a mountain of chips....

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Ornamental Sweet Potatoes – Big

Q: How big does an ornamental sweet potato grow? I have a Blackie sweet potato planted in a large pot and it must cover 30 square feet of my deck! A: Any gardener who has grown sweet potatoes knows that...

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Suckers – Controlling with Chemicals

Q: I received a gingko tree for a gift but it has lots of suckers (small twigs) at the base. When is the best time to remove them? A: Many trees produce suckers copiously. Crapemyrtle, crabapple, ornamental cherry and maple...

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Soil pH – Lowering

Q: I want to plant azaleas and rhododendrons in a spot where I had a vegetable garden last year. We had the soil tested last year and found the pH to be 6.1. Since azaleas love acid soil, what should...

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Irrigation System – Winter Care

Q: I read in your November calendar that this is the month to drain your irrigation system. Our new house has a home sprinkler system. I haven’t thought much about it in the three weeks we’ve lived in the house....

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Japanese beetle – Nematodes to Control

Q: In preparation for the inevitable onslaught of Japanese beetles, I was wondering whether you had any thoughts regarding spreading beneficial nematodes? I realize nothing is 100% successful but I hate to harm beneficial creatures. A: Nematodes are microscopic worms,...

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Banana – Winter Care

Q: I have a question about my banana tree. In reference to your AGarden Workshop piece two weeks ago, what do I do with a banana tree that has bananas on it? Should I cut them off before I move...

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Mexican Heather – Is it Evergreen

Q: I had thought Mexican Heather was an evergreen and would make it through the winter in a fairly green status. However, these past couple freezes have really yellowed out about 20 mature plants. Does this mean I need to...

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Compost – Tree Roots in

Q: Roots are growing all up into my compost from the ground. Can you tell me how to stopthis and how to kill the existing roots? Also, can you tell me where to get plans to build the most efficient...

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Walnut – How to Remove Nutmeat

Q: I have a black walnut tree in my yard that has dropped copious amounts of nuts this fall. Is there an easy way to get the nut meats out of the hard shells? A: There is a small depression...

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Pachysandra – Euonymus scale

Q: Our prized hundred-year-old oak may be in trouble. Almost overnight we noticed that the pachysandra circling our tree has died in a path leading to the trunk of the tree. Is the tree in jeopardy? A: I don’t know...

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Skunk – Control

Q: My brother in Alabama has a problem I thought you might have thoughts about. He lives in a very nice neighborhood but he and his neighbors have recently been plagued with skunks coming into their yards. They have been...

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Dusky Birch Sawfly

Q: My small ‘Whitespire’ Japanese birch has been defoliated each fall for about the past three years. No permanent harm because it comes right back every spring. I just found these hungry little guys on it and wonder if they...

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Cicada – Skins on Tree

Q: My wife and I found some empty shells of what we thought was some sort of beetle. Our first thought was that they were pine beetles from hell. We looked on the Web and now believe them to be...

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