Gardening Q and A

Worm-Posting

Q: For three years I’ve tried to turn my hard-packed red clay into a real garden. I’ve made progress doing “wormposting”. I bury all our fruit and vegetable waste in holes in different areas of the garden. As the food...

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Lawn Grasses – For Sunny Areas

Q: I just had several trees in the front yard removed and now I don’t have any grass. It is full sun. What grass seeds should I plant? A: If you have a sunny lawn, bermudagrass, zoysiagrass, centipedegrass or St....

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Gardenia – Transplanting from Pots

Q: We enjoy several gardenias in large pots, but they are becoming root bound. Is it advisable to put them in the ground next season? A: It depends on the variety. Gardenia jasminoides ‘Veitchii’ (florist gardenia) needs indoor protection in...

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Naked Lady Lily Bulbs – Not Blooming

Q: I planted some naked lady lily bulbs two years ago. Every spring they put up beautiful foliage, but no blooms appear in late summer. Should I give up on them? A: Don’t give up, the unclothed beauties will eventually...

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Shademaster Locust Tree

Q: What are the pros and cons of the Shademaster locust tree? Do you have suggestions for another shade tree that grows fast, won’t uproot walkways, and is easy to clean up after? A: ‘Shademaster’ thornless honeylocust is a nice-looking...

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Spinach – Getting Seeds to Sprout

Q: Can you tell me the best way to get spinach seeds to sprout? I have tried using seed starting pellets and sowing them directly in the ground. Nothing seems to work. A: Spinach is not the easiest vegetable to...

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Distinctive Native Plants

Q: In Boy Scouts there is a requirement to identify ten kinds of native plants found in your community. Can you suggest ten native plants for me to teach the boys? A: Certainly poison ivy and Virginia creeper should be...

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Moths in Ferns

Q: My hanging ferns have been invaded with small white moths. They have just about killed the ferns by eating the leaves. What should I do? A: Moths don’t eat leaves, their offspring (caterpillars) do the damage. Unusually high numbers...

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Tomato Fusarium Wilt

Q: To prevent tomato fusarium wilt, I am in the process of solarizing my garden. Do I need to do anything to my cages and red plastic mulch trays in order to keep this disease from returning? A: Fusarium wilt...

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Raccoons

Q: I started feeding birds several years ago. Then squirrels helped themselves to the sunflower seeds. After a while I began attracting an occasional raccoon. However, I recently saw six raccoons in my yard. Will they starve if I quit...

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Planting Camellias

Q: When is best time to plant camellias? A: My rule of thumb is that mid-September through mid-November is terrific for planting shrubs and trees. The soil is warm enough to encourage root growth but the air is cool, so...

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Ground Covers

Q: What would you recommend as a fast growing ground cover in sunny and shady areas? A: For shade, I like Lenten rose or mondo grass. For sun, spreading juniper and purple euonymus are hard to beat. For more groundcover...

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Caterpillars on Azaleas

Q: My azalea had caterpillars clustered at the tip of the limb. They have red heads and red feet. A: Azalea caterpillar, Datana major, is an occasional autumn pest of azaleas. They defoliate random azalea limbs but they will not...

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Rotenone Insecticide

Q: I have been unsuccessful in finding rotenone, an organic insecticide I have used for many years. Where can I get some? A: Rotenone has been used as an insecticide for more than a hundred years and as a fish...

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Azalea Fertilizer

Q: I have bags of azalea fertilizer that are four years old. Would it harm my shrubs to apply the fertilizer this fall? A: My rule of thumb is to apply fertilizer to a plant when it is actively growing....

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Watermelon – Slow Ripening

Q: I have a hard time telling when my watermelons are ripe. They have been the size of a cantaloupe for several weeks. A: Watermelons can be slow to fully ripen because they depend so much on the right ratio...

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May Beetles

Q: Every August, I hear a distinct buzzing sound when I go outside in the early morning. It sounds like bees of some sort, from the air above me. What could these critters be? A: I think the buzzing comes...

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Pruning Arborvitae

Q: I have two arborvitae that are getting so big they are obstructing the security lights and part of my garage door. I need to take one of them down at least 6 feet. Will it recover from such a...

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