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How Do I Recover Tree Roots Exposed by Erosion?


“I have tree roots that have been exposed near the ground because of soil erosion.  Should I try to recover with soil or leave it be?  Will it kill the tree? I think they are the roots of a very large willow oak.  There is also a very large poplar tree close by, too.” Question from Richard of Winston Salem, North Carolina
Answer: Extensive root […]

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How Do I Find Out My Planting Hardiness Zone?


“How do I know what zone I am in for growing specific plants and trees?” Question from Kathy of West Rutland, Vermont
Answer: The USDA Hardiness Zone map, which helps gardeners determine what perennials, trees, and shrubs will survive the cold in their area, is available online. Click here to view the map. All you need to do is add your zip code, and the […]

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How Do I Remove Liverwort From My Garden?


“Can I get rid of Liverwort by burying it in the ground?” Question from Russ of Berkley, California
Answer: It depends on the site’s soil, soil level, and moisture level. Admittedly, I kind of like the common liverwort (Marchantia polymorpha). Sorry! But, they’re kind of cool. The funny little non-vascular plants are close relatives of mosses and a sign of a very moist, shaded, nutrient-rich […]

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What is Better for Stopping Weeds, Weed Barrier or Newspaper?


“Does laying down newspapers diminish weed growth as well as laying down weed mat?” Question from Barbara of Afton, New York
Answer: It’s an excellent question. They can both work very well. I have a love-hate relationship with mulch cloth/mat that does not organically break down over time. It helps keep back aggressive weeds, like Canada thistle, in the first season, but then it quickly […]

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Should I Change My Succulent’s Potting Soil?


“I am growing little succulents, should I change the soil at some point?” Question from Shelby of Woodsville, New Hampshire
Answer: The soil should be changed when you transplant them into a new pot. Succulents all eventually need to be transplanted and upgraded. Sometimes gardeners just want to place their succulents in prettier pots or mixed plantings. (Click here to read an article about mini […]

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Is Comfrey a Good Natural Fertilizer?


“Have you heard about comfrey as being an organic fertilizer for gardens, and do you have any additional information on it?” Question from Sylvia of Belle Plaine, Minnesota
Answer: The claim is that the old-fashioned herb comfrey (Symphytum officinale) is a “dynamic accumulator,” or a plant that absorbs and retains higher amounts (10 x or more) of essential macronutrients, such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, […]

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How Do I Keep Mushrooms from Growing In My Mulch?

Pine needles or pine straw mulch do not encourage mushroom growth.
“I buy fairly expensive mulch each year but continually experience mushrooms growing in it.  What causes this and is there anything, (non-toxic), I can use on the mulch to stop mushrooms from growing?” Question from Diane of Newark, Ohio
Answer: Traditional bark mulch is the perfect medium for mushroom growth, especially if it’s kept moist. The […]

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Is There a Difference Between Shop Lights and Grow Lights?


“Is there a difference between grow lights and regular lights that you can mount under a cabinet? I started seeds with the latter and everything sprouted but isn’t growing.” Question from Jacqueline of Casa Grande, Arizona
Answer: Yes. There is a big difference between regular shop lights and grow lights. Grow light bulbs cover a fuller light spectrum closer to that of sunlight. Fuller-spectrum lights […]

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How Do You Grow Wormwood?

Here is the growth habit of my single, 4-foot wormwood. (Image by Jessie Keith)
“I was considering raising wormwood to use as pain relief, hopefully in a raised bed. Do you have any suggestions as to the type of soil and fertilizers? Thank you.” Question from Kevin of Bellville, Ohio
Answer: I have grown wormwood (Artemisia absinthium), and there are several things you should consider before growing […]

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Why Do Some Potting Soils Turn Green?


“Why do some potting soils turn green? What is it, and how can I avoid this from happening? Thank you.” Question from Angela of Taylor, Michigan
Answer: Any potting soil can turn green. That is because it is algae, or more rarely moss, that is causing the green color, and excess water on the soil surface is the culprit. A green layer on your soil […]

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