Gardening Q and A

Bird Feeding – Seasons

Q: We have been feeding the birds black oil sunflower seeds all winter. Should we continue this when spring arrives or do we need to cut back to encourage them to eat berries, etc? A: Garden coach Daryl Pulis (www.mrsgreenthumb.com)...

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Composting – Nutrient rich food

Q: Are all vegetative items the same for composting or are some more nutritious that others? For example, are orange peels and banana peels basically the same? A: Just as with basic nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, etc), plants can’t tell...

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Loropetalum – Pruning

Q: My Burgundy loropetalum plants are six feet tall and doing well. Last year I cut them down to three feet in early spring. They quickly rebounded and ended the season bigger than they need to be. A: It’s hard...

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Bare Root Seedlings – Proper Conditions

Q: I occasionally get bare root twigs from the Arbor Day folks. These seem to flourish in my yard much more than container-grown trees purchased at a local nursery. Why is that? A: Your experience may not be true for...

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Ring Planter – Tree Trunk Safety

Q: I want to build a ring planter eighteen inches tall around a tree for planting flowers. Does it harm a tree to put dirt up that high against the trunk? A: It can definitely harm the tree to have...

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Propagation of Mangos

Q: Can you tell me how to propagate mangos from seeds? A: Pick a very ripe fruit, peel it, then remove and eat the pulp. Let the flattened seed inside dry for a few days to make it easier to...

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Pet Waste – Composting

Q: I discovered a product that composts pet waste. I have always felt badly about throwing away cat litter. It is safe to compost pet feces? A: It’s not safe to put pet waste in bins from which you’ll remove...

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Coffee – Adding grounds to soil

Q: I am an avid coffee drinker. I dry my grounds so I can store them before using in my garden in spring but am I depleting the nitrogen by doing so? A: You’re not depleting anything by drying because...

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Anise – Spice and Shrub

Q: What is the difference between anise spice and anise shrub? A: Edible plant expert Shannon Pable (www.shannonpable.com) says the spice known as star anise (Chinese star anise), Illicium verum, is the primary plant used as a spice. I. anisatum,...

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Hardy Amaryllis – Basics

Q: Are you familiar with hardy amaryllis? My daughter and I saw some huge clumps last May when we were visiting Douglasville. A: “Hardy” amaryllis, Hippeastrum x johnsonii blooms in my landscape each year in late May as well! It...

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Tree Health – Mushrooms

Q: I have mushrooms growing from the exposed roots of a tree in the front yard. Does that mean the tree is dying? A: It may not be dying but it surely is sick. Trees can usually fight off fungal...

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Papyrus – Living Conditions

Q: I bought a one gallon pot of papyrus back in the spring. Not knowing any better I simply planted it in the dirt. It’s six feet tall, but everything I read tells me it should be in water. A:...

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Exposed Tree Roots – Cover

Q: What do you do about exposed tree roots? A: In most cases, the large exposed roots are near the tree trunk. The all-important slender feeder roots are buried near the drip line and beyond. If that’s your situation, cover...

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Tree Stump – Wait Before Planting a New Tree

Q: How long can I wait before planting a new tree where we have had a stump ground? A: It all depends on how many wood chips are left mixed with the soil. If there are a lot, the soil...

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Phosphorus – Soil Testing

Q: Our garden center is no longer carrying any basic fertilizer with phosphorus. They have 10-0-10 etc. Their explanation is that it’s more friendly to the environment. What is your take on this? A: I think the phosphorus pollution in...

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Norfolk Pine – Pruning

Q: My friend has had a Norfolk pine for 32 years that has grown just short of the ceiling. Should she raise the roof or can it be pruned in some way? A: She can remove the top now but...

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Insecticidal Soap – Commercial vs Homemade

Q: I saw in your email garden newsletter that you recommend commercial insecticidal soap, not home-made. Why can’t I make my own stuff? A: I usually hear of people using dish detergent in their insecticide concoctions, which can burn plant...

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Olives – Growing from Seed

Q: I brought back a few dried olives from Israel. I would like to plant them in our back yard. What is the best way to ensure they will grow and how do I care for them? A: Georgia once...

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