Gardening Questions

Garden Questions of the Week

“I like using Roundup for killing weeds in my beds, but always afraid I’m going to get some on the good plants!  Any tips to help me here?”   -Yes, and this applies to Roundup, Killzall, Kleenup, etc. – do not use on a windy day.  Zero wind – that way you know that the only over spray would come from a lack of accuracy spraying.  Keep the spray head close to the plants so you direct the spray directly on what you’re trying to kill.  To be even more accurate, take a 2 liter pop bottle or gallon milk jug, cut out the bottom and then place the bottle or jug over the weed.  Spray thru the open end (top) and that keeps all spray within the inside of the bottle or jug, and goes directly on the weed.  Or use a piece of cardboard and place it between the weed and ‘good plant’ to prevent spray drift.  Also, look at the new Roundup ‘Sure Shot’ foam.  Its foam – targets the weed and foams around it – good for tight places.  Last suggestion – hand weed.  J

“My husband keeps mowing the grass into my flower beds.  I say stop, he says it’s good for them. What’s your take?”  -Uh, you’re both right?  J  Grass clipping have nutrients and as they break down return those back to the soil.  And can be used as a mulch.  That’s the good.  They make a bed look untidy by just blowing clippings into the bed, and for some grasses, there is always a chance of blowing in some rhizomes and the grass begins to grow in the beds.  And last, if the lawn was treated with herbicide, that’s not a good thing for the flower beds.  Personally, I would not mow them into the bed.  I’d return them to the turf which would probably appreciate them more.  BY THE WAY:  Speaking of throwing grass clippings, do not mow / throw grass clippings into the street, sidewalk or driveway without blowing them back into the lawn or collecting them.  Those grass blades, which contain nutrients including phosphorus / and possibly herbicides, make their way into the storm water system, and add un-needed chemicals to the runoff water. Plus you’re wasting good organic matter / nutrients that should be returned back to the turf.

“I have tiny green worms eating the needles on my evergreens!  What should I do?”  -Probably pine sawflies – smash them with your hand, blow them off the plant with a strong stream of water and stomp them, or if you spray, use horticultural oil, Eight, or Capt. Jack’s Deadbug Brew.  Good thing is, they only eat last year’s needles, not the new ones getting ready to come out.

“What’s the best way to orient the rows in my vegetable garden?  N-S or E-W?”  -We get this question every year, and the answer is – both can work.  Generally speaking, go north and south, with taller plants to the north of the rows, shorter plants to the south ends of the rows.  That gives the most sun to all plants.  But if drainage is an issue, or you’re planting on a slope, east to west may be the only way you can plant (to prevent erosion).  Or in some cases, you can only plant one direction due to the size of the beds.  You can also plan your garden so that taller plants help shade plants during the heat of the summer, which may mean planting the shorter plants on the north side of the taller plants.  Point being, it depends on the situation and what you’re planting, but as a general rule, run those veggie row north and south for maximum sun exposure. 

“I need to make my blueberry bush containers more acidic.  How?”  -Several ways: Drill vertical channels down into the container soil and fill with pine soil conditioner / sphagnum peat / coffee grounds mix, always add coffee grounds to the surface, mulch the pots with pine soil conditioner, add soil sulfur as directed on the label, fertilize (as needed) with acid loving plant fertilizer.

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Ron Wilson

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