Gardening Q and A

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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Potato Bugs – On Tomato

Q: I am finding these beetles on my tomato plants in Polk County. The leave behind an orange residue when handled. They appear to be eating the leaf edges. What are they? A: You have Colorado potato beetles, also known...

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Measuring Light and Shade in the Landscape

Q: In my work as a landscape designer, I’m challenged by the different kinds of shade on a site. Shade under a maple tree is completely different from shade on the north side of a house. But both are considered...

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Rose of Sharon – Bud Drop

Q: We have a Rose of Sharon bush. Both this year and last, there have been a considerable amount of blooms on the plant that never fully open. They turn yellow and drop. A: In my experience, two things cause...

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Blackeyed Pea – Sheller

Q: Where can I find a tool to zip open blackeyed peas? My Dad took us to the Farmers Market when I was a kid and we bought all kinds of vegetables to blanche and freeze. Dad had a small...

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Jatropha – Identification

Q: Seven years ago my stepmother purchased a hanging basket with a variety of plants. One plant she removed and planted into a pot. It has grown into a tree with some kind of seed pods and pretty pink flowers....

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Twining Snoutbean – Identification

Q: Can you identify this weed? This is in a pasture near Chatsworth, Ga. A: Sharp-eyed native plant identification expert Shannon Pable says it is twining snoutbean, also known as hairy snoutbean, Rhynchosia tomentosa. (Save these names for the next...

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