Gardening Q and A

Squash Protection

Q: My squash needs your help! Where can I buy sabadilla dust for squash bugs and borers? A: Sabadilla dust is derived from the seeds of Schoenocaulon officinale, a South American lily. It was once sold as a botanical insecticide...

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Soil Contamination from Mosquito Spray

Q: Over the years we have had a lawn and pest control service and used a mosquito spray around the house. Have the plants or soil been permanently contaminated? A: I don’t believe there is any contamination. Most modern pesticides...

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Oak Sap – Causes

Q: For the past two years, the water oak over our deck has been raining sap in the spring. It creates a horrible sticky mess that turns black and dirty. What causes this? A: I think you have lecanium scale...

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Fruit Trees With Fruit Big Enough to Eat

Q: I love to eat green crabapples but the trees aren’t around anymore. What type of tree grows the fruit that is big enough to eat? A: Technically, crabapples are apple trees that bear fruit less than two inches in...

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St Augustine Lawns – Waiting to Mow

Q: I have a St Augustine grass lawn. There are tall spikes with seeds on them appearing now. Should I mow it after the seeds fall off to help thicken my lawn? A: St Augustine grass produces very few viable...

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Earwigs – Getting Rid of Them

Q: How can I rid my yard of earwigs? They are at my house by the thousands. A: Earwigs mostly feed on plant debris but if numbers build large enough they will consume living plants. The damage isn’t considered major,...

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River Burch Trees – Roots Are Appearing

Q: Our river birch trees have roots coming up all over our yard. They are ruining the grass. I’d like to replace them but what would be a good tree to plant? A: Roots appearing on the surface indicate hard...

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May Night Salvia – Not Blooming

Q: I planted three May Night salvia a few weeks ago. They looked great for a while but now they’re not blooming at all. A: ‘May Night’ is a great reblooming salvia but faded bloom spikes must be removed regularly....

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Zoysia Sod – When to Fertilize

Q: How soon after planting zoysia sod should it be fertilized? A: Feed new zoysia sod once it starts growing vigorously, typically after you’ve had to mow it once. I recommend two half-strength applications a month apart. Do not apply...

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Creeping Fig – Brick Decoration

Q: I would like to grow creeping fig to give the brick on our house a more “aged” look. Is there any problem with this? A: I’m not a big fan of fig (or ivy) growing on a wall. The...

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Pepper Plant – Crinkled Leaves

Q: My pepper plant has very crinkled leaves. Could you tell me what’s going on? A: Four things can cause distorted pepper leaves: sucking insects (aphids, whiteflies), cold soil, excess moisture, and herbicide damage. If you don’t see insects underneath...

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Okra Seeds – Soaking In Bleach

Q: Your vegetable book says that some gardeners soak okra seeds in pure bleach for five minutes to speed up sprouting time. Won’t that hurt the seed? A: Like you, I was doubtful so I did a test recently. I...

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‘Lady in Red’ Hydrangea – Producing Blue Flowers

Q: Why is my ‘Lady in Red’ hydrangea blue? The flowers were red when I bought it but now they are blue. A: The flowers of ‘Lady in Red’ are normally pinkish-white but they turn more lavender if the plant...

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Bermuda Lawn – Care

Q: My front yard was sodded with bermuda ten years ago. Pine trees now shade most of the yard. What can I do to make the lawn more lush and pretty? A: Bermudagrass is not very shade tolerant but I’ll...

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Plasticulture – Garden Improvements

Q: I read an article about gardeners using plasticulture to triple the yield of their vegetables. How can I use plastic to improve my backyard garden? A: As the word implies, plasticulture is the process of using plastic to increase...

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Virginia Creeper – Killing the Vine

Q: Virginia creeper has invaded my azalea beds. What can I do to save my azaleas and kill the vine? A: Mix a small container of diluted glyphosate (Roundup, etc). Put a rubber glove on one hand and use it...

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Soapy Substance – Identify the Plant

Q: When I was a boy during the 1930s in Savannah, I found a wild plant which, if the leaves were rubbed, yielded a soapy substance. What was that plant? A: Wild plant expert Shannon Pable (shannonpable.com) says you likely...

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Weeds – What To Do With Them

Q: My husband and I are having a minor disagreement. He has become obsessed with weeds. He has learned their names and spends hours picking them. However, he pulls them and simply throws them back down. What is the best...

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