Gardening Q and A

Mexican Heather – Alternatives

Q: A couple of years ago I bought some Mexican heather and planted it in front of some shrubs. Although the tag said it was perennial, it died over the winter and never came back. I loved the shape and...

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Holly – Using soil amendment

Q: I recently planted several hollies. When I dug the holes I removed the old red clay dirt and backfilled the plants with cow manure and enriched garden soil. Now the plants are withering. I remember you saying some original...

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Fly – Control

Q: I was visiting my daughter and she pointed out that the west side of her house was covered with flies. She said it happens every year around this time. Is there a way to get rid of them? A:...

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Fertilizer Capsules – Identifying in Soil

Q: I’d like to know if the tiny eggs that I see embedded in a pot of soil make it unsafe to plant there. I’m assuming that these yellowish eggs are from spiders. I don’t want to simply throw out...

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Balm of Gilead – Procuring

Q: I’m looking for a Balm of Gilead tree. Over one hundred years ago, a Native American taught my Carolina ancestors how to make a burn salve from wild ginger, Balm of Gilead buds, and hog lard. The batch we...

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Love-in-a-mist – Care

Q: I have a mystery flower, grown from a wildflower seed mixture. I am not sure if the pods precede the flower, but I was hoping you could identify it. A: It’s the fascinating-looking love-in-a-mist, Nigella damascena. The dianthus-like flowers...

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Stumps – Preventing resprouting

Q: How do I kill very large stumps that have been cut down to ground level? A: If you need to keep the stumps from resprouting, chop into the edge of the stump with a hatchet and spray glyphosate (Roundup,...

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Asparagus – Found In Wild, Edible?

Q: My husband and I noticed asparagus ferns growing along a fence row on our property. Is it safe to eat? Is there such a thing as wild asparagus A: My parents made a hobby of transplanting wild asparagus seedlings,...

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Tomato Plants – Plastic Mulch to Increase Yield

Q: Is it true that putting red plastic under tomato plants will increase yields by twenty percent? A: A great deal of research has been done on different color plastic mulches in the last decade. Scientists have tried red, blue,...

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Hydrangea – Damage Nearby Pipes

Q: I recently planted a hydrangea bush next to my house. When I was digging the hole I found a gas pipe and an irrigation pipe directly underneath. Do I need to worry about the roots damaging these lines as...

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Mushrooms – Growing

Q: I want to grow edible mushrooms but I don’t know where to buy the logs and supplies. Can you help? A: Mushrooms seem more mysterious than most garden plants but, in fact, raising them is not very hard. Different...

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Insecticide – Homemade Recipe

Q: Is it possible to make your own insecticidal soap spray? Can you provide a recipe? A: I once tried to make soap from lye and lard. The results ruined a boiler pot, melted the hair on my arm and...

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Beech Tree – Leaves in Winter

Q: What is the small tree that has light brown leaves in winter? I can see several of them clearly in the woods near my house. A: I’ll bet you’re seeing American beech, Fagus grandifolia, trees. They are well-known to...

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Rose – Hips

Q: A friend was on a trip recently and saw these on the side of the road. We are at a loss as to what they are. A: Your friend saw the seedpods (hips) of a particular kind of rose:...

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Hairy Angelica

Q: Could you please tell me what this plant is? A: It looks like hairy angelica to me. See Hairy...

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Puffball Mushroom – Identification

Q: I have found in my yard something which resembles a potato, but I think is some type of mushroom. It is embedded in the ground, round, light tan in color, and when crushed it has a black core. Do...

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Mowing – Mulching vs. Bagging

Q: Which is best – mulching or bagging? I used to be a firm believer in bagging but my son convinced me that mulching was the way to go. My main concern with mulching is the cutting and broadcasting of...

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Landscaper – Finding

Q: I am looking at doing a stone patio and wall in my backyard. Is there anyone you know that does quality work? A: The best way to find a good landscape construction company is to ask friends, and friends...

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