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How Do I Keep Ticks off of My Lawn?


What is the best way of getting rid of ticks? My yard is infested and I have gotten Lyme disease. Question from Kathy of West Rutland, Vermont
Answer: Ticks are the worst and a real worry for people living where Lyme and other tick-borne diseases are a problem. Of course, tiny deer ticks are the carriers of Lyme disease, and they contribute to over 99% of […]

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What Do You Grow in Vermiculite?


“What do you grow in vermiculite?” Question from Sara of Oroville, California
Answer: That’s an excellent question. Vermiculite is one of the most popular growing mix additives. The natural mineral pops up like popcorn when heated. Then it is processed into small pieces for use in potting mix. It provides […]

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How Do I Keep Cats Out of the Garden?


How do I keep cats out of the garden? Question from Richard of Winston Salem, North Carolina.
Answer: Even if you love cats, they can be real pests in the garden, even though they keep a wide variety of other garden pests at bay. Their love of soft mulch and soil for defecation encourages them to treat nice garden ground as makeshift cat boxes. Bird lovers […]

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What’s the Best Midwest Lawn Grass?


“I have a new yard (bought a lot) and it doesn’t have good grass growth. This will be its first spring with its new dirt. Got any recommendations for grass seed that will take root quickly and be strong. I like to keep it 2-3″. Thank you.” Question from Michelle of Dayton, Ohio.
Answer: Tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea) is a good lawn grass for Midwestern homeowners. […]

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When Do I Start My Garden Seeds?


“How early can I start seeds in lower Michigan? Question from William of Southgate, Michigan
Answer: It depends on whether you are growing, annuals, perennials, summer vegetables or spring vegetables. Here’s what I suggest for your USDA Hardiness Zone 6 planting area. (These suggestions may also apply to other gardeners, based on their own specific seasonal planting windows.)
Spring Vegetables: I recommend starting cool-season broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, […]

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What is the Difference Between an Annual and Perennial?


“What is the difference between an annual and a perennial?” Question from Christina of Wheeling, Illinois

Answer: These terms refer to the life cycles of non-woody or herbaceous (leafy) plants. Here are detailed explanations of both.
Annuals
Annuals live once a year, meaning they sprout, grow, bloom, set seed and die within one growing season. It’s easy to remember because the word annual means occurring once every year.
Many […]

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Is it Safe To Reuse Soil for Seed Starting?


“Is it safe to re-use Black Gold for starting seeds, etc.? Do I need to sterilize it the following year before planting? I had several flats of seeds with low germination or die-off last Spring and would like to use the soil again. Thanks.” Question from Piper of Petersham, Massachusetts
Answer: It is always safer to start with fresh Black Gold Seedling Mix. This will ensure […]

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How Do You Get Rid of Nutsedge?


“How can you get rid of nutgrass (aka. yellow nutsedge)? Question from Michael of California.

Answer: What a pain of a weed! Huh? You pull it up, and it just seems to return again and again and again. Here’s why. Nutgrass or yellow nutsedge (Cyperus esculentus) is given its name for the little “nutlet” tubers it produces underground. These nutlets are kind of like little weed […]

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Can You Suggest Native Winter Shrubs that Feed Birds?

American cranberrybush (Viburnum opulus var. americanum) is one of several great native shrubs for birds.
“What native bushes (VA) can I plant that will provide winter food for wild birds?” Question from Dagmar of Virginia
Answer: The fruits and nuts of many Mid-Atlantic native shrubs feed birds in winter. Some of the best for fruit include winterberries (Ilex verticillata), beautyberries (Callicarpa americana), American cranberrybush (Viburnum opulus var. americanum) and witherod […]

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I Need a Subtropical Groundcover for Partial Sun


 
“What would be a good ground cover for a small area in the garden with partial sun for Zone 11a?” Question from Susan of Pembroke Pines, Florida.
Answer: There are many lovely subtropical groundcover plants for partial sun that are easily grown in smaller areas. I’ll supply both native and non-native options.
Non-Native Subtropical Groundcovers
Cast Iron Plant (Aspidistra elatior): This tough evergreen groundcover is hardy in […]

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