Q: In the past couple of years, we planted several kinds of evergreen and deciduous trees in our landscape. We carefully checked the hardiness zone maps before planting. We are in zone 5, which is supposed to have extreme minimum winter temperatures of -10 to -20 degrees Fahrenheit. During the polar vortex at the end of January, our thermometer ...Read more
Q: My local coffee shop offers five-pound bags of used coffee grounds for free. According to the signs, we can take them home and use them in compost piles, for mulch in our flowerbeds and to prevent insects on the soil of indoor flowerpots. So far, I haven't seen anyone take any, but it seems like a better thing to do than throw them in the ...Read more
"If the thermometer was in inch longer we would have all frozen to death." This may or may not have been said by Mark Twain. In "Following the Equator," he did write, "The captain had been telling how, in one of his Arctic voyages, it was so cold that the mate's shadow froze fast to the deck and had to be ripped loose by main strength. And even ...Read more
Q: I was reading some notes in a garden catalog that said I should be testing my garden soil. I have had a vegetable garden for over 10 years, and I plant annuals around some of my shrubs and perennials. I have never tested the soil before, and I usually have a good crop. Would the soil tester do me any good?
A: A soil test could do you some ...Read more
Last week, we looked at this year's flowering plant winners of the All-America Selections testing program. This week we have the vegetable winners. There is one pepper, as well as two melons and four tomatoes.
When you see the red, white and blue logo of All-America Selections on seed packets or in catalogs, you can expect those plants to do ...Read more
Have your garden seed catalogs started to arrive? I have several so far, and when I see a plant name that I don't recognize, I am always happy if it has the All-America Selections logo in the description. I know these plants have been tested and proved to be excellent. Even AAS winners from several years ago are more likely to prove successful ...Read more
Have you ever had a dream where you woke up in the middle of the night and found yourself talking to the ghosts of all the plants you killed over the past year? Me either. But I do think about why some of the plants that I was trying to grow didn't make it. Usually it is my fault for not putting the plant in the proper location for it to thrive....Read more
Just because Christmas is over doesn't mean your poinsettia needs to be thrown out. The bright red and green leaves can help people cope with the gray days of winter. Many of the newer poinsettia varieties will keep the red bracts (leaves) until spring. The actual flowers are small and pea-sized in the center of the plant. They often fall off ...Read more
Q: Last year, we lost some shrubs to deer or rodents eating the trunks. I hope I am not too late to do something this year. Is there something I can treat them with to stop the damage?
A: There are many sprays, liquids and powders available at the store and created with home recipes, but all of them require multiple treatments, as they ...Read more
More than 82 million Americans feed wild birds. This isn't a new phenomenon. Wild bird feeders and birdbaths date back to ancient Egypt and other cultures. A 120-year history of American bird feeding is documented in the new book "Feeding Wild Birds in America" by Paul Baicich, Margaret Barker and Carrol Henderson. This book gives a history of ...Read more
You still have a couple of weeks to buy presents for the gardener on your gift list. Here are a few more ideas that will be appreciated:
A lot of people grow herbs indoors in small pots over the winter. The small pots are hard to take care of. They dry out too fast and tip over easily. A larger -- but not too large -- pot would be helpful, but ...Read more
With holiday shopping in full swing, I have a few suggestions for the gardener on your list. When I am working in my yard, I am constantly going back and forth into the house. I hate having to stop and untie my boots before I come inside, so I don't. Sometimes (my wife says often) I track some dirt into the house. Apparently, a clean floor is ...Read more
The growing season may be over for the gardener in your family, but the gift-giving season is just getting started. The gardener on your shopping list may tell you that he has all the gardening tools he needs, but I have a few here that he probably doesn't have and would be glad to receive.
I like combining several small items into one larger ...Read more