Q: I have tried for several years to keep houseplants indoors during the winter and then move them outside for the summer. They grow well in the summer, but they nearly die indoors. I thought houseplants should be able to grow indoors. Do you have some tips on what I can do to help them grow better this winter?
A: Of course, all plants ...Read more
Question: Every morning for the past few weeks, we have had a flock of crows sit in the trees above our house. They make a huge racket and wake us up. It is almost like a scene from a horror movie. What are they doing? And how can we make them stop?
Answer: You are not being singled out. They do not care at all that anyone is in the human house...Read more
If you are planning ahead to next year's Halloween and need to repel vampires, it is not too late to plant garlic. Garlic is an easy-to-grow garden crop. It is planted in the fall along the edge of the garden, where it will be out of the way. It will sprout in the spring, grow some leaves and be harvested in the early summer. Check out your ...Read more
Q: I have several walnut trees on my property. I noticed that one mature tree did not produce any walnuts this year. My question is why did that one walnut tree not produce nuts? Is there a way to prevent the trees from producing walnuts? I have a couple of trees that I would rather not cut down, but the walnuts are hard to walk on and stain the...Read more
Q: Everyone in my subdivision uses man-made blocks for the retaining walls they installed on the sloping parts of their yards. I do not like the look of these concrete blocks and want to use natural stones, but I do not want to mortar them in place. How do I build such a wall?
A: The first step in wall building is to measure how long and how ...Read more
Q: A while back, you wrote that a person could mix two fertilizers and that "each active ingredient in one of the fertilizer packages is also an inactive ingredient to the other fertilizer." Does this mean that if I mix two bottles of nitrogen, one bottle will be inactive?
And you also say, "In your case, an equal amount of the 32-10-20 added ...Read more
Q: We have a tree that produces very large acorns. They are a tripping hazard, and the acorns also prevent me from using the mulcher on the leaves. A friend told me there is a spray you can apply to the tree that will prevent it from producing acorns. Can you tell me if there is such a product and, if so, how to apply it? The tree is massive. It...Read more
Sometimes it is fun to look at the differences that gardeners in the northern and southern parts of the country face. As we head into fall, what should gardeners be doing?
Depending on how much protection a northern vegetable garden has from the weather, it may not suffer much damage from a light frost. Crops that grow best in ...Read more
Q: I have a spruce tree that used to be perfectly shaped. The very top of the tree trunk has been broken off. I think a hawk that stays in our area tried to perch on it and broke it. I don't know what to do for the tree. Will it grow a new straight trunk on its own? Or should I tie one of the lower branches to grow upward and take its place? And...Read more
Q: I have been thinking about putting in a rain garden. Do you have any advice on building one? What kind of plants can be planted in the flooded soil?
A: A rain garden is similar to other perennial flower beds you might build: It just holds water for longer. Rather than build a raised flower bed by adding organic matter to get better drainage,...Read more
Twig Girdlers and Pruners
Q: All of a sudden, a lot of small short branches broke off the oak tree in our front yard. The ground is covered with them. There are at least 50. There hasn't been a storm to damage them, and the squirrels don't seem to be in the tree. The oak is probably over 100 years old, and I don't want to lose it. What do you ...Read more
Q: Back in July, you said about daylilies, and I quote: "They ... often bloom better if they are divided after about four years in the ground. Early fall is the best time to do this, so think of it as a job to do right after the kids go back to school."
Well, the kids are back in school. How do I divide the daylilies? Mine ...Read more
Q: We bought a grapevine on a whim at Home Depot. We planted it along a fence. It grew OK for a couple years but didn't seem to produce any fruit. This year, we noticed there are lots of grapes, but the birds are eating them all before we can get to them. What is the best way to beat the birds to the grapes?
A: Birds like any fruit that we like...Read more