Q) Why do you always coil your hose in a figure-eight pattern?

A) I coil it in a figure 8 because it doesn’t “Kink Up” when I uncoil it: each 1/2 twist to the left is followed by a 1/2 twist to the right, whereas rolling it up puts a 1/2 twist to the left (or right) with every coil…when you pull that out, it’s all twisted up!

Q) Can you really use beer to control slugs?

As a means of controlling slugs…they drink the beer and drown. I usually drink the first 11 ounces of a 12 ounce beer, lay the mostly empty bottle in the garden and throw it away tomorrow, slugs and all. Note: I do not use expensive imported beer for this…I drink ALL of that. It is, by the way, not the alcohol, but the yeast and sugar that the slugs go for.

Q) I have a mole or moles working in my back yard. What is the best way to stop them?

Moles are good guys who are messy eaters…They prey on grubs, who eat the roots of your turf grasses. The best way to rid your yard of moles is to destroy their food source…First eliminate the grubs with a soil insecticide such as Diazinon. Second, treat with Mole Med or some other Castor oil-containing chemical to make the soil obnoxious to moles. They are, in my opinion, not Bad Guys, they are just messy eaters. I do wish you well.

Q) Is there a product that you could put in a potted plant that would help hold moisture?

Yes. It’s called acrylamide copolymer, same stuff that’s in a disposable diaper!

   

     

Q) Can you give me any hints on how to help my Christmas cactus bloom? It has a lot of buds on it, but is there any trick that I can do to protect the buds, so that they will bloom? Any ideas will be very helpful.

If it has buds on it, it is going to bloom. The “Trick” is getting it to set buds. It needs 13 hours of uninterrupted darkness to set buds … it is what is called a “short day plant,” that is, it forms its flower buds in response to the normal shortening of the day length that occurs in the fall. Poinsettias do the same thing. In October it must begin to receive only natural day length…to turn on a light will interrupt its period of darkness and inhibit bud formation.

Q) Our neighborhood has numerous cats, all who seem to believe that my garden and flower beds are their litter boxes. I have lost more plants to their digging and feces than I have to anything else. I’ve even enclosed my garden with a six foot fence, to no avail. They just jump over. Is there anything I can do to deter them. It’s time to get the beds ready for spring planting and I really don’t want to have to compete with the cats.

Moth balls can be used to keep cats and dogs out of your garden. Cat feces are not good for the health of your garden (they can spread disease).

Q) Please help me bag worms are eating my tree. Tell how to get rid of them quick. Thank you.

You can get rid of them by the following means: Handpicking the bags of eggs (before June 1st); Spraying with Bt; Malathion; Diazinon; Carbaryl Acephate; Cygon; Good Luck,

Q) I am sensitive to poison ivy that the rash will start within 12 hours. Is there a product to put on before or after which would prevent the rash?

“Tecnu Poison Oak and Ivy Cleanser” is practically a miracle for people like you and me It is a solvent that washes the toxic oil (Urushiol) off our skin before we get the rash. Use it within about 4 hours of exposure. If you get the rash (Maybe you did not know you were exposed), this same product dries it up and relieves the itch better than an ocean of calamine lotion.

Q) How do you get rid of nut grass and keep it away?

A chemical called Banvel is the only one I know of that will rid your lawn of nutgrass without hurting your lawn. Read and follow all label directions.

Q) My lawn has wild onions. How do I get rid of them?

You can stop them with 2, 4 D.

Q) Last summer, I noticed my neighbor’s violets coming into my yard. Nothing I tried did any good. It’s not even April and they’re coming up thru the grass already. What do you suggest?

Q) Violets are the “Invincible Weed”…Mow the lawn as high as your mower will go, spray every ten days with Trimec, and don’t ever expect complete eradication unless you dig out each one individually. Sorry it isn’t better news.

Q) I have lots of roses. Can you tell me when the best time is to cut them back?
Cut the roses before they open fully. Prune roses as needed to shape them and cut them back hard in the fall after a good frost.

Q) We have Raspberry bushes taking over our yard and gardens. We pull them out by the roots and they still come up everywhere. Is there something I can use to destroy the roots of these bushes? I hope so.

You can dig the raspberry bushes out, pull them out with a ‘Tommy Lift’, or cut them down to the ground and apply a systemic herbicide like Tordon to the stumps to kill the root systems.

Q) When is the best time to trim back Lilac Bushes?

The best time to trim back flowering bushes is just after the blooms are spent in late spring.

Q) Does watering the garden with water that has gone through a softening system harm the garden in any way?

Do not use softened water on your plants. Bypass it.

Q) There is an old lilac tree or bush in my parents yard. They have both past away and we are getting ready to sell the property. I have already transplanted three sections of this tree and they have all died. Could you tell me the best time to transplant one of these without killing it, and tell how to take care of it so it will produce lilacs again? It has not produced lilacs in several years.

It probably has not bloomed because it is so old. Humans don’t reproduce when they are really old either. What plants can do though that we can’t is produce new young vigorous shoots that WILL bloom. You need to perform a method of pruning called “Rejuvenation Pruning”, a 3-year process that will restore youth and vigor. However, since you are selling the property, do this instead: Cut the lilac down to about 6-12″ in height. Dig up the whole root wad after a good hard frost and divide it into several pieces. Put one back for the new owners. Transplant the rest to wherever you’d like. None of the pieces will bloom next spring, but they all will the following spring.

Q) Squirrels are destroying my lawn and yard. Is there a humane way to discourage or eliminate them? Any help appreciated.

So do cats & dogs, and for the fun of it, finely ground very hot peppers are always a hoot if you happen to be there when they lick it off their paws.

Q) How do I control Japanese Beetles?

Everyone who lives in “The Japanese Beetle Zone” would like to know the answer to that one. All the experts (professors, entomologists, and state extension agents) can’t eradicate this pest…odds are, you won’t either. There are insecticides for use on the grubs, as well as a biological control called “Milky Spore Disease”. The adults will still fly in and feed on your plants. Diligence, Patience, and Chemicals are your only defenses at this time.