Gardening Q and A

Potted Plants – When to Water

Q: What do you recommend for determining when to water potted plants (indoor or outdoor)? A: I recommend using a digital moisture gauge, the one that you have on the end of your hand: your index finger. Push it into...

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Pyrethum Plants – Will It Harm Bees?

Q: I am planning to grow pyrethrum plants in my garden to cut down on pesticide use. Do these plants harm bees and diminish pollination? A: Pyrethrum insecticide is produced from a particular chrysanthemum, Chrysanthemum cinerariifolium. A bug-killing dust can...

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Red Currant Tomatoes – Good Pest Control

Q: I have heard that a weak bleach solution is a good pest control to apply to soil during the winter. I grow red currant tomatoes which reseed each year. Will applying bleach have an adverse affect on the reappearance...

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Clemtine Oranges – Seeds

Q: I am an 11 year old gardener. I was wondering if clementine oranges have no seeds how do they grow more? A: Clementines are a hybrid variety of mandarin orange that originated in China. A flower of this orange...

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Red Currant Tomatoes – Good Pest Control

Q: I have heard that a weak bleach solution is a good pest control to apply to soil during the winter. I grow red currant tomatoes which reseed each year. Will applying bleach have an adverse affect on the reappearance...

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Emerald Green Arborative – Spacing

Q: I took down a couple of huge Leyland cypress and have a few ‘Emerald Green’ arborvitae for replacements. How far do I need to space them to make a screen? A: ‘Emerald Green’ arborvitae makes a nice substitute for...

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Fern – Needs Humidity

Q: I have a large fern-type plant in my living room on which the edges of the leaves turn brown. What could cause this problem? A: My bet is that the plant doesn’t have enough humidity around it. Indoor air...

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Vegetable Garden Preparation – Tilling in Shredded Pine Needles

Q: I am preparing our vegetable garden for next season and need to know if tilling in a mix of oak leaves and pine needles will be of value. A: It’s fine to use pine needles to amend soil, but...

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Soil Mixture – Recipe

Q: TV show you had a recipe for a soil mix for jade plant, cactus, etc. Can you send me the portions? A: Mix one part potting soil with two parts of a coarse material that encourages drainage. This could...

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Blueberries – Aluminum Sulfate

Q: Are you supposed to put aluminum sulfate on blueberries at this time of the year? A: Aluminum sulfate is used to lower the pH of the soil around blueberries because they prefer a relatively acidic soil, pH 4.2 to...

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Thanksgiving Cactus – Pruning

Q: I have a thirty-year-old Thanksgiving cactus. A few years ago it fell down and is now badly lopsided. Is it possible to prune it by cutting back the large thick branches? A: Because it is such a treasure and...

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Red Lion Amaryllis – Will It Bloom Again?

Q: I have a Red Lion amaryllis that I bought in bloom. Can I get it to bloom again now? A: You can’t make it bloom again right now because it has exhausted its internal energy while making the big...

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Leyland Cypress – Fertilizing

Q: I have twenty Leyland cypress, twelve feet tall. When do I fertilize and what do I use? A: The first question to ask is if the Leylands actually need fertilizing. Do you want them to grow much over twelve...

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Mulch for Vegetable Gardens

Q: We keep a large vegetable garden but we have little time for weeding. What would be a good mulch? A: Pine straw makes a fine mulch; it does not acidify the soil. You could used shredded leaves if you...

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Dogwood – Blooming Troubles

Q: I bought a Celestial dogwood four years ago but it has never bloomed. It is twelve feet tall and looks very healthy. A: In my experience, kousa dogwoods are slow to begin flowering. Your ‘Celestial’ is a cross between...

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Vegetable and Herb Garden – Available Seeds

Q: I am tackling a large new vegetable and herb garden. I want your opinion on the different varieties of seeds available, particularly heirloom seeds. A: You can find heirloom vegetable seed locally and online, but remember that there are...

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Variegated Aspidistras – Care

Q: I have two large variegated aspidistras. This year they look dreadful. They get quite a bit of sun. Is there anything I can do to make them happier? A: In my experience, aspidistra (also known as cast iron plant)...

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Vegetable Garden – Making it Work in Heat

Q: I’m unable to have a backyard garden due to all the wildlife. This year I want to grow vegetables on my deck. However, the site gets extremely hot in the afternoon/evening sun. Do you have suggestions on how to...

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