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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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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Soil ring – Tree planting

Q: My wife and I watched your TV show where you discussed the soil ring you make after planting a tree. You said that it should not be left longer than the first year. Why not? A: Tree experts say...

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Small farming – Project ideas

Q: I’m on the heart transplant list at Emory – bet you haven’t had too many of us contact you!. When I get out and heal up, I want to do some small farming: animals, orchard, vegetables, etc. on 100...

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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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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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